Since moving to Los Angeles in 2013, we’ve eaten a lot of tacos. There aren’t a lot of places where we’ve returned to eat twice, but one place I like is Lotería Grill—specifically their location at the LA Farmers Market. It has a taco stand feel, the hustle and bustle of an open air market, a whimsical lotería board wall and the tacos I’ve eaten there are consistently good. I recommend this taco de carnitas, pictured below, which is made with Michoacan-style carnitas, salsa de chile morita (which is really not that spicy—although it says spicy on the menu—but is perfectly smoky), and is garnished with a slice of avocado, onion and cilantro. A few weeks ago I enjoyed lunch here with some girlfriends and couldn’t resist snapping a few photos to share.
Quick and easy meals for weeknights are essential in most households, mine included. But if you’re like me, you still want to put something at least semi-homemade on the table to please your family at dinnertime. Longaniza en salsa verde is one of my go-to dishes that’s both easy and quick to make and can also use homemade or store-bought ingredients depending on how much time you’ve got to cook.
If you have the time, you can make my salsa verde recipe from scratch (but I suggest that you leave out the salt until after it’s cooked; longaniza can be rather salty so you may find you don’t need to add any salt in the salsa). If you don’t have time to make the salsa, you can use your favorite brand of store-bought salsa verde. I often serve this dish with a side of black beans diced onion and chopped cilantro as garnish….
I haven’t written much here about my favorite taquería in Chicago, La Lagartija, but have always widely recommended the place to anyone who asked me in person, on Facebook or Twitter about where to get an authentic Mexican meal in my hometown. I wasn’t exactly trying to keep it a secret, but it’s definitely a gem and I always appreciated the neighborhood charm and the way that the meseras and owners always remembered us and greeted us like family. I have so many photos stowed away of memorable meals we ate there, and it was the only place in Chicago where we’d regularly eat tacos al pastor.
But one of my favorite standby meals there, the alambre de la patrona, is both succulent and super easy to recreate at home. The owners are from Mexico City, and this dish on their menu is actually a version of a popular dish at one of our favorite taquerías in Mexico City, El Charco de las Ranas. This dish is sometimes known as alambre de chuleta and is best served with warm tortillas, but you can skip the tortillas if you like and just eat it with a fork.
Because we love you, and because October 4 is National Taco Day, here are some of our favorite taco recipes from The Other Side of The Tortilla and our friends.
See below the slideshow for the links on where to find each of these 10 recipes that will make you say “Que rico.”
Happy National Taco Day
I’m always on a quest for a good taco in my city, and thanks to the fact that there are tons of Mexican immigrants here, it’s not too difficult to seek out the best changarros for the most authentic tacos.
A few months ago, my friend Steve told me he knew this awesome place for tacos. Given that I have an incredibly high standard for what meets my expectations for a “good taco” or an “awesome taquería,” I usually nod and say something nice when someone tells me they had a good taco somewhere. My circle of trusted taco advisers is admittedly small. Yes, I’m a self-admitted taco snob. I bet you are, too.
But he was persistent about these tacos inside a little Mexican grocery store in his neighborhood. I’d been there before because I liked the butcher but the produce wasn’t great, so I didn’t shop there very often. And I knew I’d eaten at the taquería inside the store but I couldn’t say that I remembered it one way or the other. So we went out one Saturday morning for tacos with Steve to give it a shot.
This was the taco I ate. (OK, I ate more than one…) Mmmm, carne asada.
While not perfect (I’m not a fan of the double tortilla, for starters, and their salsa was a bit weak for my taste), I can’t list any other complaints because this taco de carne asada really hit the spot.
Two other factors won me over this time, despite being underwhelmed by my previous experience eating here. First, they’ve renovated and expanded the eating area so it’s no longer terribly cramped trying to eat lunch there (which can get pretty busy). And second, although they’ve usually got several different kinds of aguas frescas to choose from, the grocery section sometimes carries glass bottles of Yoli, a beloved Mexican lemon-lime flavored refresco. I admit I’ve been back there several times just looking for Yoli and have grabbed a taco on my way out.
There are plenty of other tacos on the menu, of course, and we’ve tried most if not all of them. José really liked the cecina. But I personally only return for the carne asada.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
1436 N. Ashland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
- Have you been to Carnicería Guanajuato? What’s your favorite taco there?
Over the weekend José and I had dinner at Fogón, an upscale Mexican restaurant that opened this spring in a neighborhood near where we live. I’ll write more about it another time, but I had to share a photo of this earthy-tasting, perfectly over-stuffed quesadilla I ate as an appetizer—it had cheese and huitlacoche (also known as corn smut or corn truffle), epazote, salsa rustica with black beans and was topped with a small dollop of creme fraiche and light greens. It’s the culinary equivalent of black gold! (More on the topic of huitlacoche soon, I promise!)
- How do you like to eat huitlacoche? Have you ever had it before?