Taco Review: De Cero, 814 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL


Type: Fancy-White-People Tacos

Price: $$$


So for my first review I decided to visit De Cero in the West Loop. I’ve been there before, and I remembered that they have fancy tacos that I liked last time I was there. 

First we ordered some chips and salsa. It’s, like, eight bucks, but they give you three different salsas that the chef’s own children slaved over and cried into the night before. The tomatillo was creamy and delicious. Personally, I like my tomatillo a little chunkier and tomatoey, but this was still good. The red salsa was pretty garlicky, thin (not watery) and good, but lacked salt, which was surprising with all those kids’ tears in it. The mango habañero tasted weird, like they were experimenting with putting some herbs in the salsa. Let me give you some advice: Mexican food is awesome because it’s simple. Leave the weird shit out of it, unless you’re gonna blow my sombrero off with how awesome it is. And FYI, the chips were still greasy from the fryer.

Okay, on to the tacos! I ordered four tacos: rajas (veggie), steak, al pastor, and crispy whitefish. Let’s start with the rajas. It seems to me that they put all of their energy into making a good veggie taco. Maybe they didn’t want their veggie tacos to suck, since there aren’t usually too many veggie taco options, and they usually do suck. Whatever it is, it was pretty damn good. They were a little juicy with a soft texture and chunky consistency, not too salty. It also had some chipotle flavored sour cream type concoction on it that tasted good. 

photo (3)Next, the steak tacos. Hmm, is this the same cream they used on the veggie taco? That’s okay because it’s delicious. And potato in my steak taco? Okay, I can work with that. But really, nothing else exciting here. I felt like the cream was covering up for the fact that steak and potato was not well seasoned, and without it, the taco would have sucked. Not having a good steak taco at a taco place is a sin in my book, but I like creamy stuff so nom nom nommmmm. Yum. Burp. 

Crispy whitefish taco … MORE cream? Jesus. Are they milking a goat back there? What’s with all the cream? Okay, maybe fried fish tacos deserve some cream, but at this point I was wondering if i should have taken a Lactaid before my dinner. The fish was too big for the tortilla, and they splattered a little pico de gallo on top. It tasted all right, but it was messy, pretty much just like most mediocre fried fish tacos. At least there wasn’t cabbage, which i’m okay with, but it seems to be the go-to for fried fish tacos, and pico’s a nice change.  

Al pastor tacos: What. The. @#$%. Are you just trying to piss me off De Cero? I remember last time I was here they boasted about having a spit roasted al pastor and devoted a whole paragraph to it on the menu. Now, it’s just another taco. Really, they should have just removed it from the menu altogether and spit roasted their chef to atone for this great sin. Had I been someone with anger management problems, I might have lit this place on fire. They were bone dry. And they tasted like roadkill. No I imagine roadkill tastes much better. Hardly any flavor (al pastor is supposed to be marinated), and a smattering of pineapple, which did not help. I would have preferred a pineapple taco at that point. Which is really a shame, because I love al pastor tacos. 

So that’s it. The service was good, attentive, and not annoying. For the prices (around 3 dollars a taco), I have had way better.  There is valet parking, but I never seem to have a problem getting a spot on Halsted just north of Randolph and hoofing it half a block.

 I give it 2.5 out of 5 chiles. 

De Cero can be found at 814 W Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 455-8114