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Oct 15, 2003 02:09 PM

Taquerias that grill the steak while u wait??

  • j

Can anyone suggest a northside taqueria where they grill the carne asada for tacos/burritos while you wait? Most I've been to are warming up previously grilled asada on a griddle which doesn't compare to fresh grilled. I've been to a couple places in the distant past but don't think they still exist - Las Americas on Belmont/Sheffield and a place that used to be on Augusta and Damen. Would very much appreciate any suggestions.

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  1. I'm sure I'm mangling the name, but Taqueria Las Asaderos (?) on Montrose between Lincoln and western: I have had steak tacos there and they've grilled the meat while I waited. I don't know if it's a blanket policy or if I've just been lucky, though. Excellent steak tacos, in any case.

    2 Replies
    1. re: SC

      Love this place. Steak tacos are excellent but the salsa is one note: thin, green, slightly spicy but, to coin a phrase, "no oomph". I bring my own sauce there and am quite happy then.

      1. re: SC

        Thanks! Will be sure to check it out this weekend.

      2. This is a suggestion with reservations. I patronize the taqueria Leon at the corner of Ashland and Blackhawk. Should one hit them at the serendipitous moment you will recieve your taco fresh-chopped off the grill. Otherwise, steak tacos will range from awesome yummy exhileratingly char-perfect to inedibly gloopy and fatty or overly-dry and under-marinated. I always liven mine up with the complimentary hot salsa verde. It's an auspicious day when the marinade and char combine with good timing on my part to enliven an otherwise decent(read: no revelation)carne asada lunch. Supermercado Guanajuato just a street over provides middling steak tacos(well-preserved) ALL of the time. So, takes yr chances w/ Leon(expediantly) or mosey on over to the supermercado and wait in a squished line for half an hour.

        10 Replies
        1. re: malcarne

          That's a good point. Tacos are all about sizzly meat. One of the reasons they're so good in Mexico is they keep the meat constantly moving around the hot grill, never allowed to just sit in a clump and cool and die.

          This is seldom the case in America (perhaps with an abundance of cheap meat, places feel obliged to offer too many choices?), but one workaround is to time your order to fit what's currently sizzling.

          I do the same...I walk into taquerias, see what the chef's currently pushing around the grill, and say "I"ll have that!" Sometimes flexibility is the key to deliciousness!

          One other point. Re: that supermercado... Guanajuato is a state of Mexico, and a fairly obscure one. I'd go early on a weekend and ask what's "tipico de Guanajuato" to try to score some unusual regional specialties. Perhaps some major chowhound plunder...this is not a known-about state (unless I'm the only one in the dark)


          1. re: Jim Leff

            Guanajuato isn't really that obscure : it is host to the International Cervantes Festival every year and the city of the same name is a destination point for many tourists. Mexican president Vicente Fox was the former governor of Guanajuato state.

            As far as specialties, Tacos de Nata come to mind. These are almost like enchiladas, stuffed with (usually) chicken and cheese and covered in salsa. I've never seen these outside of Mexico but I guess it would be worth asking for. They also have special tamales guanajuatenses and various chicken dishes. Guanajuato is located in central mexico, NW of DF and is in a mainly agricultural region therefore chicken is popular, and it is said that Guanajuato produces some of the best chiles in Mexico. Incidentally I really enjoy the queso fundido in Guanajuato more than in other places in Mexico.

            1. re: Don Knotts

              Here's a good link about Guanajuato food in english.


              1. re: Don Knotts
                Vital Information

                Calling RST, I am sure he can add much more to this, but it is my impression that there is a signigicant population in Chicago from Guanajunto.

                Nearly everyone loves the stand, el Colonial, at Maxwell St. for its deep fried empanadas, and other fresh masa products. The family running this place are from Guanajunto.

                1. re: Vital Information

                  Until Señor RST makes his way to the table, I will confirm that the states of Guanajuato and and its neighboring state Michoacan are two of the major sources of Chicago's Mexican migrants. Both Leon and Guanajuato are sizable cities in the state. Guanajuato is also the state that Diego Rivera was born in.

              2. re: Don Knotts

                Don, sorry, I was being gringocentric. Up here we don't hear about it much, I meant. And that's zero reflection on the place itself....I'd hoped I'd telegraphed that, if not, I apologize. in either case, I'm TOTALLY psyched to get your input (tacos de nata! Wow!).

                Can we maybe catalog where to find some of this stuff locally? I've eaten a bunch of Michoacan food, and never anything like the stuff you're describing. If this is a serious strand in Chicago-area Mex, that's info worth smoking out and cataloging...and maybe tying into a General Topics thread (so others can learn about the cuisine, and perhaps be enticed to Chicago for a bite).


                1. re: Jim Leff

                  You need to come out to Chicago and eat Guanajuatense! There's gorgeous brain empanadas to be had here!

                  The whole of the Bajio is a rich source of Mexican immigration to Chicago. I once pegged the city of Celaya (Guanajuato) as one of the "hubs" for this stream. Or rather, I think that it may be an imaginary "arc" stretching from Celaya down through Acambaro (of the ubiquitous "pan de Acambaro") and Salvatierra (in the state of Michoacan) to Maravatio and Ciudad Hidalgo (the area of the monarch butterflies). If you go to one of the many bus companies in the Pilsen/Cermak/Little Village areas you will find buses making daily/weekly runs to cities like Celaya (the bus company on 22nd near La Quebrada ends at Celaya and provides onward connections). From Celaya (or from other "hubs" in this area), people go on to their homes in Moroleon, Morelia or Uruapan to the south (Michoacan) or Salamanca, Leon, San Miguel de Allende (Guanajuato) to the north. Two of the biggest stands at Maxwell Street market (El Colonial and Green House Steaks) are owned by sanmiguelenses. The Michoacano presence in Chicago has its source in this area just south of the border of Guanajuato state. (The state of Michoacan is divided by the mountain range; the Michoacanos in San Francisco are from the other side of the sierras-from villages like Apatzingan and Aguililla).

                  I am not sure about the route that Jaliscienses take to get to Chicago. It may be possible that they also use Guanajuatense cities as hubs (it's not that far to the east: look at map) but I imagine that folks from towns like Atotonilco, Ocotlan, Arandas, La Barca (all familiar names to this board as these are also names of food businesses: Tortilleria Atotonilco, Birrieria Ocotlan etc) head instead first to the city of Guadalajara. From either Celaya/Salamanca/Irapuato (Guanajuato) or from Guadalajara, the stream gathers force as it collects more immigrants in the states of San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas (large presence of Zacatecans in Berwyn + specially from towns near the city of Jerez), Aguascalientes and Durango (specially from around Santiago Papasquiaro and Torreon in Coahuila). In the US, the stream disperses to various cities in Texas and the midwest. If you go to the bus station in Celaya or similar towns, you get a sense of where exactly the "stream" is headed for: you will be surprised at the amazing range of midwestern cities (St. Louis, Akron etc) and cities on the Mississippi (even tiny tiny towns) listed on the boards as destinations.

                  The other great source of Chicago-Mexican immigration is the triangle formed by Toluca, the state of Morelos and the Taxco/Iguala/Teloloapan area of Guerrero. I am not sure if the route taken is through the Bajio or "around"-through the state of Hidalgo, perhaps on a route shared by Pueblan Mixtecs on their way to New York City.

                  I have no statistics to back me up, just observations but then it is funny how the "observations" on this board anticipated a lot of the scientific findings of Rob Paral's recently published census on Chicago! We knew where there were Iraqis or Serbs (down on Ewing in the 100s!) or where Koreans have moved to just from pure sniffing and from following the call of the stomach!

                  1. re: RST

                    What a great posting! I'm just drinking it all in...and assuming many Chicago lurkers are doing the same!

                    We have some Michoacan places here in NYC (actually, Westchester county), but I haven't yet penetrated to the heart of the cuisine. Seems like good sopes are a constant.

                    Guanajuatense, though, is absolutely absent from anywhere hereabouts. But I'd love to be proven wrong. And, meanwhile, I need to get to Chicago. You've made me hungry!


              3. re: Jim Leff

                That's a good tip for Guanajuato Supermercado. I once googled it but only found untranslated mentions of the Carnaceria and Guanajuato Supermercado's apparently good standing with their bank. what I've had at Guanajuato has been pretty good. The quality at least is invariable unlike the better, but squirrely, Taqueria Leon. When I've got a taco, etc lunch jones I just don't have the time or patience to wait in an extremely hot, packed(and it IS packed) line. BTW: guys behind the counter are friendlier than the relatively gruff ones at Leon. Oh, and the Supermercado has a much larger menu than Leon.

                1. re: malcarne

                  "what I've had at Guanajuato has been pretty good"
                  Not to be a pain, but have you tried on a weekend? Many/most places (as you prob. know) reserve their best cooking and most regional specialties for weekends-only presentation, and present a more "all-things-to-all-mexican-immigrants" menu during the week.
                  If I was going to get obsessed with Guanajuato food (and, obviously, that's in the works), I'd ONLY search it out on Sats/Suns.
                  Tuesdays are for tacos.

            2. v
              Vital Information

              A lot of places "grill" the steak to order, for instance El Milagro--fan friendly located on Belmont near Ashland. What I'd like to know is, are there any places that grill their steak over live coals, not over a gas fired "grill".

              Obviously two great choices for real grilled steak taco's are at Maxwell St. First, the Wiv favored, number giving steak specialist on the far south end of the market. This is surely the place for someone who wants their steak tacos RIGHT off the grill. RST's designated "best taco" also grills their steak over live coals, but does so in batches. The batches do sit in a pot waiting taco construction. On the other hand, they have the most amazing tortillas as so many of us know, and their salsa is incredible too. The best taco place is on the south end of the market too, but not quite as far south. It is recognized by its format: two ends of masa wielding madonna's and tables in between.


              1. There's a tiny place on Lincoln, south of the the Starbucks at the Paulina intersection. I think it's called Lucy's.

                Stopped in there for the first time a week ago and pleasantly surprised. I've had both the steak taco and burrito and they were both very good.

                1. La Pasidita on Ashland, just south of Division at the intersection of Milwaukee/Ashland/Division. Kind of weird, but there's 3 of them that go by Pasadita 1, 2 & 3, same owner. The blue line subway stops on that corner. They do a ton of business, so the steak doesn't sit around long and it comes straight off the grill. They also chop it up right in the store. They make an awesome salsa verde to go with it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Peter

                    Used to regularly get the carne deshabrada at one of the Pasaditas, east side of the street. Carne deshabrada is like the Cuban ropa vieja, and makes a great burrito. Also used to like it at El Cid on Milwaukee by the Jewel, but haven't eaten there in years.