Over the past year of my taco adventures, the one constant that I've noticed is that most of my favorite taquerias specialize. Instead of trying to cover all the bases and be everything to everyone, the best places focus on a few quality options. But flying in the face of this preconceived notion is La Chaparrita in Little Village, which has a menu of 12 or so tacos, all of which are outstanding.
Why is La Chaparrita so good at so many things? Nothing about the location is particularly special. Just like a hundred other taquerias, it's attached to a grocery store, even if this feels more like a restaurant with a store tacked on. And sure, this place is distinct for using a charola—a circular pan, slightly raised in the middle, where most of the meat bubbles away to together, mixing fat and flavor. But that's not the whole story. La Chaparrita also steams many of the meats, grills others, and even has a small griddle.
Regardless of the preparation, this is a taqueria that sincerely cares about each filling. So even though there is no spit, the al pastor is cooked in such a way that it is still juicy and caramelized.
In short, La Chaparrita is not only one of the best taquerias in town, it's a Chicago dining experience unlike any other. The only way I felt like I could celebrate it properly was to try every single taco on the menu. Click on the slideshow to view them all, or check each filling out individually below.
- Crispy Tripa
- Soft Tripa
2500 South Whipple Street, Chicago, IL (map)