I was on the train last night and realized that there is something so inspiring about cities in winter: the slush, the concrete, the asphalt, the public transportation. I would add chaos, but Chicago is more about institutionalized privilege, corruption and discrimination that crowds, so, there wasn’t much to work with on that front (Pro tip, Toronto: if Chicago can have a card reader system you can load with your credit card in any station, so can you). There was a lot to work with on the taco front.
I went to Xoco, a restaurant by Rick Bayless, a couple of times while in Chicago, but they do not serve tacos. This famous chef (who I spotted cooking in the restaurant) makes tacos at his other restaurant, Frontera Grill, that had a wait time of too many hours on Saturday for me and my friends. So, on Sunday I took myself on a taco tour. I do not recommend doing this. Because so. many. people. are coming out of mass or nursing a hangover, so they also want tacos.
I do recommend going to Pilsen. While walking down 18th street, I spotted far too many hipsters and the first place I ever ate good Mexican tacos, Birreria Reyes de Ocotlan. I stopped in at Carnitas Don Pedro, El Milagro, and a Mexican grocery store. I almost managed to buy some music on the street, but while I was in the store, the cops must have come by because suddenly the men were no longer there. I assume the cops are ok with illegal street food though, because that was everywhere. No puestos de tacos (taco stands), but puestos de atole (corn pudding/hot beverage stands), and someone selling alegrías (peanut brittle, my favourite snack outside of Mexico City subway stations) and images of San Judas.
Tomorrow, I will review the places I went. They weren’t all amazing, but they all were better than any tacos I’ve eaten in NW Ohio. So, in the spirit of doing things on the road that I can’t do at home, I will also discuss my plans for a taco tour, complete with a flag and matching t-shirts, for LASA.