Type: Mexican spaceship tacos
I decided to give the West Loop another shot and visit this little Mexican restaurant called Perez. I remember having a couple tacos from there once before, but my memory is fuzzy once again, this time due to the fact I quickly scarfed them down in my car before attending a paid market research session up the street for Budweiser.
What immediately struck me about this place was the room. The walls are shiny and metallic, and you feel like you are about to dine inside a Mexican spaceship. There is some cool art, but it doesn’t really hide the fact it looks like a giant meat locker. I really didn’t mind; I actually thought it was kind of cool. They really should have played up the spaceship thing. Estos tacos son de Mars, amigo!
When I finally looked at the menu, I was excited to see they had goat tacos, in addition to the standard taco fare (steak, al pastor, chicken, and chorizo). So what did I do? I ordered all of them except the chicken. Looking back now, I probably should have just ordered the chicken and not angered the taco gods, but at the risk of over-ordering (and overeating), I stuck with the four.
I am getting a little ahead of myself here, because I forgot to mention the salsas. They put out a basket of chips and two bowls, one with pico de gallo that was tasty and surprisingly spicy, the other was a roasted salsa that was so black and delicious I think it might have been made by Satan himself. I even ordered an extra bowl of it after we ran out.
After some lively discussion, our server brought out our food. My tacos came out four in a row, with cilantro and onion, on a plate with some lime slices. Let’s start with the goat. It was tender and delicious, albeit incredibly fatty. Not just, like, fatty pieces of meat, but a good part of it was actual large chunks of animal fat. You know, I can appreciate a fatty piece of meat; if done right it really bolsters the flavor. But this was just too much. At times I was wondering if there was Jell-o in my taco. No bueno, Perez.
The steak taco wasn’t any better. Even though it was filled with actual meat, it really lacked any kind of seasoning or flavor altogether. What exactly was the cook doing back there? Clearly navigating the Mexican spaceship and not seasoning my tacos. I’m not sure what cut of meat they used; it actually wasn’t bad, but the taco could have been way better if properly made.
Their al pastor taco was okay. It seemed like they got the flavors right but did not marinate it long enough. It didn’t really have that strong of a flavor, did not seem spit roasted, and lacked pineapple. I wouldn’t kick it out of bed, but I won’t praise it either.
I started wondering if they actually had other salsas, so I asked the server, who informed me that they have red and green salsas. Why didn’t they bring these out initially? After ordering the green, I had come to find out why. Too sweet and viscous and missing an important component (possibly garlic), the tomatillo salsa was a swing and a miss. I didn’t even bother to ask for the red because I had already annoyed our server enough.
The chorizo taco was probably the best one. My tortilllas (two to a taco) started dissolving, and I found it best to pick up a fork and get to shoveling. I did not eat them consecutively, which might have been my downfall, and I admit my palate might have gotten lost along the way. The chorizo had a good flavor and wasn’t too greasy, which is not easy to accomplish with chorizo. It tasted great but lacked an accompaniment, such as potato or another vegetable.
I hate to say it, but the best thing about this place was that dark salsa. If they could fill one of those beer helmets with that salsa in it, I probably would have ordered it. The service was friendly and timely, but for $3 and $3.25 a pop, the tacos were nothing to write home about. If you want throw down that kind of money I suggest walking up the street to De Cero.
I give Perez Restaurant 2.5 out of 5 chiles.
Perez Restaurant can be found at 853 W. Randolph St., Chicago IL (312) 421-2488
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