bullhead cantina

This guy is calling the taco police.

This guy is calling the taco police.

There are some really fantastic things about Bullhead Cantina. It’s in a great, multi-cultural neighborhood in Chicago. It’s one of those innovative neo taco joints that tries new ideas and different ingredients on their tacos. They really know how to cook their meat. And, there are a ton of choices for the taco consumer.

Let’s focus on those for a minute.

Humboldt Park is an ever changing neighborhood. It’s been known as a high crime area in the past, where the Latin Kings call home (you down with the crown?). But, as of late, it’s seen a lot of new residents move in, and is considered an up and coming neighborhood. Since hipsters (of course) started to infiltrate the land, things have certainly gotten whiter (that doesn’t mean better in my opinion, but it does mean things are changing), and got the ball rolling for others to move in. The predominantly Puerto Rican community has given way to all sorts of new people. For now, things like living quarters, bars and food, are still relatively cheap.

Bullhead Cantina boasts a wide variety of well cooked meats on their menu (see below). The choices obviously aren’t very traditional, which provides some appropriate symbolism for the direction in which the neighborhood is going.

I tried the hanger steak, the brisket, and the fried chicken tacos. All are accompanied by various toppings to match the meat. I really like the way each of the meats is cooked. The hanger steak, a very underrated piece of meat (that’s what she….nevermind), is cooked to perfection. It has a nice crispy sear on the outside, contrasting the juicy tender meat on the inside. The brisket, which needs to be heated completed differently (low ‘n’ slow) is also very tender. You can tell it’s been cooked with care, allowing the normally tough connective tissue to break down and create a nice juicy hunk of meat (that’s what….). I also really like the fried chicken. Normally taco places serve dried out, pulled chicken. This isn’t the case with Bullhead’s fried chicken. It’s golden and crispy on the oustide, and full of juicy goodness on the inside. All are cooked to near perfection.

So, are there any negatives?….Unfortunately, yes. Let’s just list them to save us both some:

1. No chips waiting for you at the table. What?!? When you sit down at a taco joint, you expect some chips and salsa to snack on. You can do that here, but it’ll cost you. They don’t even give you salsa with your tacos. You gotta pay… I know. I know.

2. The taco toppings don’t really add much to the taco. While the meats are cooked very well, they’re barely seasoned, and the toppings don’t provide much added flavor. They look great on the menu, but don’t work out so well once they hit your taste buds.

3. If you order guacamole, it’s $6. It says $2 on the menu, but that’s just for a small side that could be eaten on two tortilla chips.

4. The tacos are $3 each. That may not seem like much, but the tacos are very small. Plus, they really don’t compare to the other spots they are trying to mimic, such as my personal favorite, Big Star.

5. For a humble (Humboldt) neighborhood, the prices don’t match. My princess, her brother and I went and our bill was over $60. Not really what you expect going out to lunch for a few tacos in a hipster-infested neighborhood.

While all of this may seem picky and petty, you gotta remember, I’m a taco diva. I take this stuff seriously serious. Seriously.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this place, and there is plenty to boast about. I’m sure I’ll go back, but I’ll still wish things were done a little better, and for a little less dough. You know?

Looks good, donut?

Looks good, donut?

Ok. On to the spot!

  • Location:  1143 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL (Humboldt Park)
  • Tourists:  Josh, Julia, Johnny
  • Tacos sampled:  hanger steak, brisket, fried chicken (also have al pastor, grilled chicken, grits & kale, carnitas, grilled tilapia, avacado, pulled pork, grilled portabello and roasted beet)
  • Toppings:  various
  • Salsa: salsa roja (gotta pay for it)
  • Extras:   none
  • Tortillas:  corn
  • Atmosphere: muchos choices, bar, gringos, gastro tacos, expensive chips and guock
  • Price: $3/taco
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