Type: Fancy-white-people tacos
My friend and colleague had been bugging me about reviewing Antique Taco in Wicker Park, so I finally caved and took him up on it. I had been wanting to review and discover more secret hidden gems, but it really does not take very much to get me to eat tacos with anyone, so of course I said yes. You won this round stomach. Actually, you win every round.
I am going to start with the bad. First off, during weekend dinner hours, this place is packed. I was there with a couple of friends, and we could only find a two-person table to seat the three of us. You order up front, and they give you an empty paper towel roll with a number on it and bring the tacos out to you. There also seems to be a family-style seating thing going on, so it’s possible you might need to share your table with some Wicker Parkians. Second, these tacos come two per purchase, and you cannot pick and choose. I wanted to try at least two different kinds, so naturally I ended up ordering four tacos, which cost me $18. And unless they are filled with unicorn meat and the tears of our Lady of Guadalupe, four tacos should not cost you $18. Luckily, my amigos were kind enough to trade a couple tacos with me so I could try all four. I would recommend doing the same.
After trying them I understood the line and exorbitant prices; holy guacamole these tacos are good! This place makes Big Star taste like Taco Bell. And I really enjoy Big Star (and Taco Bell for that matter). I had steak, chicken, fish, and shrimp tacos. The balance of ingredients and proteins in all of these tacos was just right. The steak, a ribeye, was adorned with avocado, cilantro, pickled onions, and cotija cheese. Seriously, it was salsa your pants good. (Note: the current menu online is not accurate.) It had that grilled flavor to it, and, as we all know, grilled is the most delicious of flavors.
The fish taco might have been the best fish taco I’ve ever had. They clearly put awesomeness spices in the batter, which meant it really didn’t need to be drowning in sauce to taste good. It had a Sriracha tartar sauce, chives, and cabbage (which was apparently smoked, but I couldn’t tell). I’m not really sure what kind of fish it was, but after the first bite I didn’t care and just wanted it in my stomach.
The shrimp taco tasted good but wasn’t anything special. It got cold pretty fast, probably due to the corn relish. They were marinated or cooked in some kind of chipotle deal, which was noticeable but maybe got a little bit lost with the flavors of the relish. Really, the shrimp just didn’t hold a candle to the steak and fish tacos.
The chicken taco was tasty and going for an Indian vibe. It was slathered in turmeric/curry and a ton of other spices, and topped with cucumber, pickled jalapeños, onions, and yogurt sauce, definitely on the mark but not the best of the four. However, you will not be disappointed.
The staff is very friendly. Our server/food-bringer-outter told us he would keep an eye out for an open table, but we told him we were cool where we were. People were nice and mostly filled with smiles. The register guy seemed a little annoyed, but we all have our bad days, and seriously who enjoys working at a register. (Well, I actually did.)
My only question was what the heck do antiques have to do with tacos? Clearly nothing, but one of my friends explained to me that one of the owners enjoyed antiquing and the other owner enjoyed tacos, and voilà, a nonsensically named taco joint was born. Parking can be tough and expensive because it’s in the heart of Wicker Park. I recommend public transportation, especially since they have margaritas and canned beer available for consumption. Yum. I added a poll below!
I give Antique Taco 4.0 out of 5 chiles.
Antique Taco can be found at 1360 N. Milwuakee Ave., Chicago IL (773) 687-8697
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