Nuevo Leon is one of my all-time favorite restaurants. It’s not just the food; the no-worries attitude at an authentic Mexican restaurant; the tremendous amount of food you can eat before ever even ordering; the fresh feel to all of their dishes; the great price; or the fact that it’s been at this same location in the heart of Pilsen since 1962 (25 years before Frontera Grill opened, when Rick Bayless was at the ripe old age of 9). It’s all of these things.
For this special occasion on the Taco Tour, I needed an equally impressive dining duo to accompany my princess and me on our endeavor. Whom did I come up with? Michelle and Barack Obama? Snoop Dogg (Lion) and Dr. Dre? Ashton Kutcher and that little fat kid on “Two And A Half Men”? Nope. More impressive… My parents.
When you arrive, you are greeted by a large amount of chips, along with three kinds of salsa. They also have a bowl of pickled veggies, which are tasty and surprisingly mild. THEN, some lady swoops in out of nowhere and gives each guest a small tasty snack from the kitchen. It changes daily, but I’ve had a mini burrito, a cup of soup, a steak taco and a taquito on my recent visits. You can consume a nice amount of food before you get your water or charge anything to your bill.
BUT, this isn’t the appetizer tour. SO, how are the tacos?
Very good. I tried the carne asada, the picadillo and the tacos de sabinas. The first thing you notice is the tortilla. You have to. It’s so fresh, it comes out still cooking and piping hot. You have to continue snacking on the extras and give the tacos time to breath.
Then, you can dig in, and it’s worth the wait. If you have to order carne asada, as I do, then you’re going to be pleased. They have a nice grill flavor and the juiciness of the meat holds up to the freshness of the tortilla. The picadillo is also tasty, as long as you are ok with your tacos a little salty.
The star of the show, though, are the tacos de sabinas. They are served on a flour tortilla and are loaded, starting with the ribeye steak, which is seasoned and tastes like meat right off the grill. The tacos are also filled with grilled onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, refried beans and topped with chihuahua cheese. Deeeelish!
Here are the juicy deets:
- Location: 1515 W. 18th St., Chicago, IL (Pilsen)
- Tourists: Josh, Julia, Dave, Linda
- Tacos sampled: carne asada, picadillo, tacos de sabinas (also have pollo, machacado shredded, barbacoa, aguacate, frijoles, chorizo, and bistec)
- Toppings: lettuce, cilantro, onions and tomato; lime
- Salsa: salsa roja, salsa verde, pico de gallo
- Extras: one small item from the menu – varies
- Tortillas: corn (flour on tacos de sabinas)
- Atmosphere: authentic, traditional, historic, lots of food, fun
- Price: $5.00/3 tacos. $1 extra for mix ‘n’ match. $8 tacos de sabinas
- OVERALL RATING: 8.5