Type: Cookies and Tacos
Price: $$$$$, BYOB
As soon as I heard about a place that specializes in cookies and tacos, I knew I had to get on that ASAP. I came hungry, because when you have to cram numerous tacos in your face for the sake of posterity, you have to have the eye (and stomach) of the tiger. Just outside of Loyola in Edgewater, Cookies and Carnitas is off the beaten path, but is a nice oasis in the otherwise mostly dry landscape of North Broadway. The red walls and wooden tables provide a warm and homey feel. There is art on the wall from local artists, it is good to see the art and restaurant community supporting each other.
Cookies and Carnitas does not have a website, but let me tell you folks, the tacos aren’t cheap. Antique Taco managed to win me over in spite of their inflated prices, so I wanted to give Cookies and Carnitas a fair shake. In turn, they gave me a fair shake and shook all the money out of my pockets! If that old adage – you get what you pay for – was true, I would have gotten four tacos made of solid gold. Not to sound like a cheap-o or anything, but when 4 tacos costs me over 20 dollars, I expect maybe a table side mariachi band or a bag of cheap magnets to come with it.
All their tacos come out on El Milagro tortillas (two per taco) and are served with ‘smokey’ beans, chihuaha and cotija cheese, pineapple, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, and shredded cabbage. Holy extra toppings Batman! Look… I enjoy all of the above ingredients in tacos, but more does not always equal better. It’s like when you’re a kid and you decide to mix all the different soda available at the fountain, and then you try it and you realize it tastes like complete shit. The salsa verde was wonderful and tasted genuinely homemade. The smattering of charred pineapple was a nice touch that had some brilliant moments. But Cookies and Carnitas has a heavy hand that would make Guy Fieri look like Giada DeLaurentis. The subtle flavors were drowned out by the amalgam of all the toppings.
Of course, you can always ask to have your tacos served the way you want. I ordered an aged skirt steak taco, a pork shoulder taco, a goat taco, and a fried portabella mushroom taco. I have a confession I should probably make here: If there are two tortillas per taco, I try to eat my taco with just one tortilla. For me, two is unnecessary, unless it begins to fall apart, which I assume is why they do it in the first place. Cookies and Carnitas doubles up their tortillas, and right on cue, the first layer fell apart into the safety net of my second tortilla.
On to the meats! The pork shoulder was excellent. It took me a little while to warm up to it, but mid-taco I realized these guys know what they are doing when it comes to pork. Hence the name Cookies and Carnitas. The pork was juicy, flavorful, and tender. Well done, boys.
The goat taco was similar to the pork shoulder: moist, soft, braised in beer and their own special blend of herbs. It did not taste gamey, but tasted like goat, if that makes any sense. Not a home run, but good nonetheless.
The aged skirt steak taco was…..interesting.This is not meant to be a dis, but whatever seasoning they used on the steak reminded me of those little taco seasoning packets you buy at the grocery store. It tasted exactly like that! Take that information and do with it what you will. Some people might really like those taco packets. Also, the texture and flavor of the steak seemed to be a little off for skirt. I was thinking maybe they braise the steak a little, which obviously would change the texture as well as the flavor profile. Maybe the aging has something to do with it. I can only assume I will get softer as I get older. That said, the steak was tender and delicious, despite the McCormick Taco Seasoning packet they maybe didn’t use.
Now to address the fried portabello taco. I knew this moment was going to come. You know, even when I feel it is justified for me to completely rip apart a taco or a restaurant, I feel bad because it is still somebody’s livelyhood. The purpose of my blog is not to keep people away, but to encourage them to go and find out for themselves. What I might think is a terrible taco might be the perfect taco for somebody else.That being said, this was the worst taco I have ever eaten in my entire life and any past lives I might have lived. I would not wish this taco upon my worst enemy. I’m fairly certain these tacos were served at Guantanamo Bay. I don’t know what they did to those poor portabella mushrooms, but I can make a taco out of the sole of my shoe taste better. It’s amazing how just the wrong seasoning in a batter can turn something beautiful into a horror show. Suffice to say, the taco went unfinished.
That’s pretty much it. Ease up on the toppings, make your own tortillas, and maybe experiment with some different recipes for the steak and portabella mushrooms, and you guys at C&C will have tacos worthy of the prices. Not that you will listen to me, I’m just a guy who writes about tacos. What the hell do I know. Parking is fairly easy on Broadway, and if you’re lucky enough to get a spot right in front, you won’t have to pay a meter. The place was fairly empty when I went, but it was early on a Tuesday, so it might get busier on the weekends. I should mention that the guys that worked there seemed like pretty nice and cool dudes. It’s also BYOB, which helps take some of the sting off the prices. Don’t forget to take the poll below!
I give Cookies and Carnitas 3.5 out of 5 chiles.
Cookies and Carnitas can be found at 5757 N Broadway, Chicago IL (773) 769-2900