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« Tonight's Slow Food Chicago Potluck POSTPONED Imani's Original Bean Pies »

Review Mon Jun 21 2010

Estilo D.F.

"I'm hungry. Let's get a taco." - Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Reservoir Dogs.

Growing up occasionally my sisters and I would get excited because it was "Taco Night!"

Mom would breakout the yellow Ortega box (replete with pre-fried shells, a packet of mildly spiced meat seasoning, and taco sauce), pan fry some ground beef, add the spice packet, stuff the mostly salty/slightly spicy beef into the shells, and top them with the taco sauce, some cheese, chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce. It was an exercise in removing all the ethnic influence (and flavor) from one of the greatest ethnic dishes ever created.

Scary, no?

That's why when I needs the flavor, a trip to the local taqueria is just what the doctor ordered, and only three blocks away is Huraches Dona Chio (1547 W. Elmdale).

Going to Huaraches Dona Chio feels a little bit like going to a speakeasy. It's just off the corner of Clark and Ridge right before the alley. If you're not actively looking for it, you'll miss it, and if you are, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's anything other than a restaurant. Hell, for the first year I lived in Edgewater, I swore it was a hair salon.

As you enter, it's almost inevitable that the AC unit above the door will drip water on you, and if you're not careful, you'll stumble down three steps into the restaurant; much to your chagrin and the amusement of other patrons.

The first thing you'll notice is how small this place is. No joke. There's probably only room for about 18 folks so long as everyone is being friendly. Really friendly, if you catch my drift. Seriously, more than 12 folks and the place starts to feel uncomfortably small.

But you don't go to Huaraches Dona Chio for the ambiance or the elbow room. You go for the food. We're talking huraches as big as your face, and topped with fresh Chihuahua cheese and other delicious toppings like chorizo, carne asada, al pastor, tinga, lengua, huitlacoche, et al.

While the huaraches are amazing, and definitely worth trying the first time you visit, I would heartily recommend making it a point to order a couple of tacos. Starting with a big-ass tub of masa dough right next to a tortilla press, you can tell that the owners are all about making food right. Unlike some taquerias where you see the cook toss a couple of pre-made tortillas on the griddle, at Huaraches Dona Chio your tortilla starts as fresh dough, is worked by hand, and then pressed when you order it. Then it's loaded up with the fillings of your choice and brought to your table piping hot.

You can get other toppings (like cheese and avocado), but I would encourage you to keep it simple and get your tacos with the traditional onions and cilantro.

Lengua Tacos.JPG

I'm a sucker for the lengua tacos, and from the earthy and sweet corn tortilla to the big beefy flavor of the lengua, the tacos here are awesome. Add a bit of the salsa verde if you want a hint of tart and tangy to compliment the onion and cilantro, or you can add a bit of salsa roja for a smoky, sweet, and spicier compliment to the lengua. Hell, I'd pull a Mary Poppins and put either on a spoon just to make the medicine go down.

Salsa Roja 1.JPG

Did I mention that these tacos are zoggin' huge? As you've seen from the pictures above two of them just about cover a plate, and both are loaded with plenty of meat. For only $3 a pop (for the lengua, two-fiddy for all others), you can fill up here for less than $7 including a beverage. I would suggest the Horchata. Cinnamon/almond/cream deliciousness without a hint of dairy. Good for the lactose intolerant and vegetarians among us.

So if you find yourself on the North Side and in need of some taco lovin', make your way to Huaraches Dona Chio. The food is tasty, filling, and inexpensive. And if the place is packed, take your order to-go, stroll east and enjoy your food in the park next door. It'll be worth it.

 
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Matthew / June 21, 2010 9:59 PM

It's HuAraches.

Abigail / June 25, 2010 12:06 PM

One of my favorite places to eat!

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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