cafe el tapatio

Cafe El TapatioIf anyone ever asks you to go to May Fest in Lakeview, kick them in the knee caps and never talk to them again. It’s the worst festival in the city. There are three food vendors and the porta potties take up twenty percent of the grounds. We went on one of the first nice sunny days of the year and nobody was having fun. Everyone seemed depressed. I had to ask the beer vendors if they were even open because nobody was in line or drinking.

So, what do you do when you hit up a bunk festival? That’s right, look for the nearest taco joint.

Maybe this was as blessing in disguise, because we stumbled on Cafe El Tapatio. El Tapatio has some nice outdoor seating, perfect for our beautiful, terrible day. I ordered a margarita and ordered four tacos: a carne asada, an al pastor, a deshebrada and a pollo.

I really like all four. The carne asada is grilled nicely, is juicy and flavorful. I’m not ready to put it up there with L’ Patron or La Pasadita, but it is still a very good taco. The al pastor is similar. You can taste the sweet, spice and smoke in each flavor-packed bite.

The other two tacos are of the pulled-meat (he he) variety. The deshebrada is pulled beef and the pollo is pulled chicken. Both would be easy to dry out. Neither are dry, though. They each have their own adobo-style sauce, which helps keep the meat moist. They are seasoned nicely. Also, with the onions and cilantro, in the case of the deshebradahave, or the lettuce and tomato, in the case of the pollo, they have a nice crunch.

On a couple side notes: I really like the other food on the menu, too. The refried beans and rice are very good, as are the enchiladas. Also, they give you a handful of Chews with your bill. That’s definitely a nice finishing touch in my book.

My only regret is that I didn’t get a chance to try more tacos on the menu. I guess that gives me a reason to go back.Cafe El Tapatio tacos

Here are the details:

  • Location:  3400 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL (Lakeview)
  • Tourists:  Josh, Julia, Paul
  • Tacos sampled:  carne asada, al pastor, deshebrada, and pollo (also have chorizo, papas con chorizo, carnitas, pollo, picadillo, pescado, camaron, huevos, and bellos)
  • Toppings:  onions and cilantro/lettuce, tomato and cheese; lime
  • Salsa:  salsa roja
  • Extras:  chips and Chews (with your bill)
  • Tortillas:  corn
  • Atmosphere: busy, social, gringo-friendly, margaritas, outdoor dining
  • Price:  $2.75-3.75/taco
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