taco joint: urban taqueria & cantina

More like Stinkin' Park.

More like Stinkin’ Park.

As a rule, I basically try to stay as far away from Lincoln Park as possible. It sucks. From the haves to the have mores, I generally don’t think I have a lot in common with the people who hang there…other than our pasty exterior.

One reason to put on your big girl panties and go, though, is Taco Joint. Taco Joint isn’t just another one of these fancy pants, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink taco places that are popping up. Well, it is, but they have a few intricacies, a nice tequila selection and some perty darned good tacos to help differentiate themselves.

Taco Joint has an array of tacos on the regular menu. They also have a special taco each day of the week, and most of them sound delicious (listed below). They have a drink special every day as well, although the margaritas on Mondays aren’t very good. That is, unless you prefer no tequila in yours and for it to taste like a bitter lime peel. In that case, dive right in.

One other cool thing, is they have a lady who hand makes their tortillas. They are made with the normal masa used in traditional tortillas, and then they add a twist, which changes from time to time. The day I went they had black bean tortillas. They are warm and soft and delicate. Kinda makes me want to be the tortilla tourist. Ok, maybe not. But they are very good.

The first taco I tried was the barbacoa. It’s a braised brisket topped with onion, cilantro and a roasted red jalapeno salsa. Sounds good, huh? Well, it is. It’s very juicy and tastes like a home cooked pot roast. The onion provides some crunch and the salsa adds a nice smoky kick. Me like.

The camaron taco comes with an avocado salsa and some flash fried spinach. The shrimp themselves are quite tasty, but as a taco, this one doesn’t quite work. The spinach clashed with the shrimp and I found it a little awkward tasting. I think if they replace the spinach with some cilantro, it would work nicely. Easily said while typing from my living room in my underpants, I know.

Next I had the papa con chorizo. This is on the sope menu, but they let you order it as a taco as well. It’s pretty simple, (chorizo, potatoes, guacamole and salsa) yet very good. The mixture creates a spicy, creamy potato that is worth coming back for.

My final taco was the Monday specialty taco, the crab cake. Like it sounds, it’s a crab cake in a tortilla. They don’t shape it any special way, so it eats a little awkwardly, but it’s still very good. It is topped with pickled red onions, watercress, and a jalapeno tartar sauce. I’ll admit that this one didn’t feel too much like a taco, but my liberal side is letting it slide (am I a rapper?).

I hope I’m not back in Lincoln Park for a while, but if I am, I’ll have to stop by this place again. I just hope it’s not on a Monday so I can try another specialty taco and drink deal. I’m also wanting to see what the other tortillas may be like.

Until the next stop:Taco Joint - Urban Taqueria and Cantina tacos

  • Location:  1969 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL (Lincoln Park)
  • Tourists:  Josh, Glen
  • Tacos sampled:  barbacoa, camaron, papa con chorizo, crab cake (also have cochinita, ceviche, al pastor, fajita, estile baja, rajas, tinga and vegetariano – plus a special taco every day including: quesa, arabe, chile relleno, carnitas, pancita and pozole verde)
  • Toppings:  varies with each taco
  • Salsa:  no salsa
  • Extras:  none
  • Tortillas:  they have different rotating tortillas, all made with corn masa – they served a black bean variety the day I was there
  • Atmosphere:  bar, white, friendly, knowledgeable staff, tequila
  • Price:  $2.50-$3.50/taco
  • OVERALL RATING:   8.75
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