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Feb 3, 2001 07:27 PM

Forget the rabbit, where's the goat?

  • b

In search of cabrito. Seems as if the waskily wabbit has escaped us, so anyone know of a mexican rest. that serves goat?

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  1. I asked this question, months ago. Let's hope someone finally responds...

    Erik M.

    1. If you go to La Villita/Little Village (W 26th St between about Kedzie and Pulaski) you’ll find a number of restaurants serving goat. Birrieria Ocotlan might be of special interest since they serve almost nothing but goat. The menu is very simple: goat tacos, plates of goat meat (large or small), goat consome (don’t miss this!) and only a few other items. The restaurant is simple as well: an open kitchen of sorts and several formica tables. Order a taco at the counter and the guy will take a couple tortillas, fill them with shredded meat, drizzle on a little juice, top it with onion and cilantro, then wrap it in waxed paper, all fast enough to make your head spin. Pretty good stuff, especially at $1.25, though maybe a tad greasy. Even if you’re not interested in goat, there are many, many other worthwhile food-related stops in this mile of 26th St.

      Also, there is some pretty good Mexican street food at the New Maxwell Street Market (Sunday mornings on Canal St around Roosevelt Rd). Rick Bayless (Topolobampo, Frontera Grill) did a piece on the market for Saveur a year or two ago. A couple stalls sell goat tacos and at least one has consome. I have no idea if they are set up in the winter but if they’re not there now (usually about a block south of Roosevelt), I bet they’ll be back when it warms up.

      But let’s not forget the rabbit! There are a couple of Mexican restaurants that I think still serve conejo. Not the famous El Conejo on Western (which is definitely closed) and not on 26th St. Hate to keep everyone in suspense but I’ll wait to post on this until my research is more complete.

      By the way, for the real do-it-yourselfer, there is a shop on 26th St that sells conejo vivo. You can pick out your bunny and they’ll kill and dress it for you.

      Birrieria Ocotlan
      3809 W 26th St
      Chicago IL

      Chicago Live Poultry House
      2601 S Ridgeway (about 3700 W)
      Chicago IL

      2 Replies
      1. re: Rene G

        Thanks very much for the detailed response. I'd read the Bayless article. Last time I was at the new Maxwell, I didn't see any goat on offer. I'll definitely try Birrieria Ocotlan.

        Erik M.

        1. re: Erik M.

          I tried to go to La Birrieria Ocotlan last night and met with an experience that has surely plagued other similarly disorganized chowhounds. After a long drive though desolate neighborhoods, after discussing at length my excitement about the prospect of eating cabrito for the first time, after speculating extensively about the similarites and differences between the Ocotlan method of goat prearation and other internationally accepted goat conventions, after salivating, and getting all worked up, we arrived finally in La Villita, were thrilled by the bright lights and bustling street life, and parked in front of the Birrieria, only to discover that it was closed. There were two men sitting inside at a table behind a metal grate, but my spur of the moment decision, without planning, or phoning ahead had ended in tragedy.

          Dejected, near tears, my friend and I wandered the streets, going from Tacqueria to Tacqueria asking in pidgin Spanish for Cabrito, always hears "No No tengo Cabrito", "Does somewhere nearby have Cabrito? Otro Ristorante", "No No, Maybe Ocotlan", "It's closed!". We asked men on the street, who recommended Lalo's, Laurel, The Gutierrez Brothers, etc, but none of htese places had goat.

          After twenty minutes of fruitless searching, we decided to go to Lalo's. I had remembered seeing the name on these boards (though could remember nothing about the quality, and had I remembered bruce's scathing indictment of Lalo's on this board (link below) I would have abandoned La Villita and headed down to Lem's), and the men we stopped on the street insited it was "The Best". The meal started with weird overcooked chicken soup with macaroni (macaroni!), continued with pretty good chips in unexciting salsa, and concluded with two bland burritos al pastor, dolloped with unpleasant guacamole and sourcream, no where near the quality that can be found within three blocks of my front door in the Ukrainian Village.

          So all in all, a disappointment. What's worse, I was unable to determine whether Ocotlan was closed because it was too late, or because of health inspection problems, or because ot was monday, or because it was lent. So not only did I not get my goat, I can't even help my fellow hounds by providing information about when they might get theirs. I'll try again soon.

          Rene, you indicated that there might be other places on that strip of 26th that serve cabrito--any specific joints come to mind?