Type: Hole-in-the-wall tacos
At the end of a long strip of Mexican joints on Clark Street in Rogers Park, kitty-corner from Deluxe Diner, is Taqueria El Chorrito. I have been to this hole-in-the-wall taco joint before, but I was under the influence and was not able to properly take note of how decent the tacos actually are. So I decided today to revisit this tiny place and see how it fared. I would like to stress that this is a very small restaurant, maybe only a hair larger than the old La Pasadita (RIP) on the east side of Ashland. There is a television in the corner with the Spanish channel on and an actual pay phone.
After sitting at the bar, I ordered three tacos and a glass of water. You have to specify cilantro and onions or lettuce and tomato.They have a fairly large menu for such a small place. I ordered a steak taco, an al pastor taco, and a taco with chorizo and potato. A few minutes after sitting down, my server gave me a tiny bowl of chicken soup with rice that had jalepeños, corn, and cilantro in it. I must say, it was pretty damn good, not exquisite, but for a complimentary bowl of soup it wasn’t bad. I’m sure high school cafeterias around the country are serving much worse. I wasn’t expecting it from such a small operation.
On to the tacos. They didn’t take long, maybe five minutes tops. First I tried the steak taco. Now here is a perfect example of a restaurant using less than top-quality meat but marinating and cooking it perfectly so that it didn’t really matter. It was incredibly flavorful and juicy without being too greasy, heavy on the spices, but boy did it taste good. The tortillas (they give you two per taco) seemed like they might have been a little on the stale side, but the steak tasted so good I didn’t even care.
The al pastor taco was almost as good as the steak taco, albeit a little overcooked. Now I don’t mean overcooked as in dry, I mean overcooked as in a little too crispy. Sure, some people may like this crispiness (I’m looking at you Big Star), but you’re really cheating yourself and not eating the best taco you could possibly be eating. You really lose a lot of flavor of the pork. In spite of this, their al pastor was super delicious, made with traditional marinade, and just as juicy as the steak taco. No pineapple, but still pretty impressive.
Their chorizo and potato taco was good but fell short of the other two. “Why?” you ask. Because the pieces of potato were too goddamned big. I don’t just want a mouthful of potato, it should be a well-crafted ensemble of different flavors, textures, and ingredients. The chorizo was little more than a mere stowaway on the good ship taco, when really it should have been first mate. The marinade pervaded the taco and really overcame any other flavors that might have been inside the damned thing. All I really tasted was the chorizo marinade and a whole lot of potato, which is too bad because a potato and chorizo taco can be a beautiful thing.
I’ll admit that I should not have been hungry because the tacos were pretty huge, but I’m a classic overeater and was about to order another taco when I found out they have a $5 credit card minimum and I had no cash on me. This was clearly a sign from the good lord to chill the @#% out, thus sparing another contribution to the thick veneer of fat that covers this slammin’ beach bod I have underneath.
To sum it up, this place is good, definitely on the higher end of the taco spectrum. It is open super late for all of your North Side drunk taco needs: 2 a.m. most nights, 24 hours on weekends, and for some reason until 5 a.m. on Wednesdays. You’ll have an easy time finding parking on Devon west of Clark.
I give Taqueria El Chorrito 4 out of 5 chiles.
Taqueria El Chorrito can be found at 6404 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL (773) 381-0902
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