Type: Classy Mexican Restaurant Tacos
Wholly Frijoles is a family owned Mexican Restaurant in Lincolnwood opened by former Lettuce Entertain You veteran chef Carmen J Villegas. If you’ve ever been to Wholly Frijoles, you know this dude has been saving the good stuff for himself, because the Mexican food at WF is a million times better than any LEY establishment I’ve partronized. However, if I’ve learned anything from this ridiculous and delicious taco blog, it’s that high scale Mexican restaurants do not always make tacos a priority on their menu. Will the tacos at Wholly Frijoles live up to the high standards of Señor Villegas? We shall soon find out.
Much of WF is decorated in fine Mexican art, that I must say is quite impressive. I was seated in a corner near a painting of a ghostly woman making stew. In the very back of the restaurant there is a painting of a Native American that appears to be mourning a woman laid out on some boulders in the shadow of snow peaked mountains. Let’s hope she didn’t buy the farm from eating the tacos at Wholly Frijoles.
Upon being seated my server informed me her name was Duvy, wrote it and underlined it on my table. So I guess there will be no mistakes about who my server is. I ordered the taco dinner which comes with soup or salad, so of course my fat ass opted for both. She brought out chips and salsa, and I have to say, the salsa was so good I was ready to hold someone hostage for more. Red and chunky with onions and garlic, they loaded that salsa with everything under the Mexican sun.
The salad was also quite delicious, a nice departure from a typical house salad, with finely chopped iceburg lettuce coated in a light, viscous sour cream dressing. The salad also was generously adorned with chopped tomato, onion, and little tortilla strips, adding a lovely texture that made it fun to eat. Face it, we all want Doritos in our salads, we just don’t know it yet. The tortilla soup was also fantastic. Drizzled with sour cream and a light touch of cilantro, the soup also had some of those delicious tortilla strips. I have to say, I love a chef that knows the awesomeness of crunchy food.
Alright, the real reason I came here: the tacos. My tacos came out with a small bowl of beans (no rice), each on two handmade tortillas. Since there was a rainbow of delicious animals at my disposal, I ordered chicken, steak, and al pastor for my taco dinner. One thing WF did that was hella splendid is they put the toppings under the meat. That way things don’t go falling all over the place and you are sure to get a mouthful of both the meat and toppings in each savory bite. No more scooping stuff back into my taco, that’s clearly for losers. I would also like to mention the fact that there was a substantial amount of meat in each taco, making them a tad difficult to eat. This is not a terrible thing.
Clearly, they marinate the chicken in crack here and throw it on the grill before serving it, because that sh*t tasted so good I wanted to move into the back room to keep up my habit. Taco meat tastes so much better when it’s grilled vs cooked on a burner. One taco in and I was ready to have J Carmen Villages cater my Big Fat Mexican Wedding, and I’m not even Mexican. The chicken taco sat upon a bed of lettuce and tomato, and had a nice drizzle of sour cream on top. I used the salsa they brought out with the chips to dress my taco properly.
The carne asada taco was just as exquisite, offering a delicious grilled flavor to a fine cut of skirt steak, cut into rather large slices. The steak was tender and was not at all difficult to eat, except for maybe just fitting the damn thing into your pie-hole. This taco also sat upon a bed of lettuce and tomato, which for some reason was not offensive to me at all, and worked perfectly to balance out the taco. I prefer cilantro and onions on my steak tacos, but everything worked so well together you could have put twigs and berries in that sh*t and I probably would have scarfed it down like it was Thanksgiving.
The al pastor taco was the only real, sort of disappointing taco of the bunch. And it wasn’t even that disappointing, it was actually pretty good. It just had that ‘reheated in burnt oil on the griddle’ flavor, which I am not a huge fan of. Look, I totally understand it’s not always easy to have meat cooked to order, especially when it’s supposed to come fresh off a revolving spit, without having it completely dry out. Sometimes these things can’t be avoided, but special attention should be paid to the method of reheating, a lot of times oil burns and taco lovers no likey.
Reheating methods aside, this place is extraordinary. They manage to avoid the fine dining taco curse, and it makes me happy I can eat awesome tacos and not be price-gouged by places like Antique Taco and Cookies and Carnitas. With the soup and salad, the whole thing cost me 13 dollars. If you’re stuck anywhere on the north side near Lincolnwood, I recommend you stop here for lunch or dinner and melt your Mexican loving faces off with this amazing food. If you live up here, I’m sure you already know about it. Parking can be a little tough, but if you’re lucky you can find a (free) spot on the side or behind the building. Whatever you do just don’t let yourself get sucked into going to the Long John Silver’s across the street.
I give Wholly Frijoles 4.25 chiles.
Wholly Frijoles can be found at 3908 W. Touhy Ave Lincolnwood, IL