Great torta at Maxwell Street - Green House
Great torta tasted today at Green House/Maxwell
I am guessing, that in some ways, connoisseurs avoid the Green House stands for a couple of reasons. First, all the stuff is well labeled in English, and maybe the lack of mystery makes it not as good. Second, they sell an eclectic group of food, that again seems a little less than authentic. There are fried bananas and Chicago Polish sausage and burrito's (about the only place in the Market with burrito's). Finally, you see everything frying away, and maybe the forward presence of so much grease scares people too. Only one thing has tempted me at Green House, terrific looking steak torta's. I finally tried today, and guess what, they were terrific.
More terrific than first appearances. What always got my eye was a sturdy toasted roll and fine looking steak. Under closer examination I learned that the total filling of the torta included thick cut bacon, steak slices, melted cheese, and well cooked onions and bell peppers. The whole mess gets a wallop of sour cream and several spoonfuls of a very California like green salsa--heavy on the tomatilla and cilantro. The Condiment Queen stated it a, whole greater than the parts, kind of thing. I just wish we ordered two as one of the Chowhoundita's ate most of the filing (including pretty much all of the bacon). Just another excellent Mexican sandwich in Chicago.
Green House Steaks has two stands at Maxwell, both well recognized by their long facade of frying contraptions facing the shoppers and their well labeled items, but as far as I can tell, only the more northern Green House stand has the torta's. In addition, Green House has an actually restaurant at 2700 S. Millard. The restaurant menu includes torta's, but nothing sounding anything like the cheesesteak-ish item enjoyed today at Maxwell.
The Green House Steaks
2700 S. Millard
I do not think that purity of offerings (solely Mexican)is indicative of anything other than a failure to really understand the commercial aspect. The fact that they feature Burgers, Polish and such out front is smart marketing, to a degree. The best, basic, Mexican food joints out in this corner of the west (ByBy's in West Chicago, and the newly discovered Los Dos Hermanos in Aurora which I will post on tomorrow) offer all the Gringo foods, and heavily feature Gyros and Hamburgers, as well as Tortas, Sopes and Huaraches. I have never seen anyone order the gringo food, but I suspect they sell quite a bit at lunch time. And it increases the customer base significantly with little added work since the gringo stuff is definitely fast and easy to make (and some of it probably gets them marketing help, too).
While I certainly look for places that scream, "we make authentic, regional food, and are totally serious about it," a food place does not have to be a commercial drop-out to make good, authentic, food. This is something I have observed repeatedly out here and been thinking about.
I was at Green House today, too, with some Floridians. They have a chowhoundita of their own, who since their visit to Maxwell St. last Xmas, has spoken many times of the delicious Green House flautas. So we had the flautas, beef and cheese, which were good, but by far the best thing I had was the chicharones taco at Rubi's. The challenge with taco de chicharones is that the pig skin can become soggy and insipid; not today at Rubis: the skin stayed crispy and bacon-y in a salsa of green tomato, and it was just delicious.
I saw the tortas at Green House, and they didnt look special (as you noted) so I just wrote them off (my mistake). Of some interest to me were the plantanos machos, which were slathered with what the serving person said was lecheria (we were communicating in Spanish, so I may have misunderstood), which looked like a milky and probably sweet creamy sauce. The plantano was covered with this sauce and some salsa verde (which sounds good: a fried banana with a hot and sweet covering).
We came late in the day (about 1:00), and Oaxaca Tamal was already sold-out, unfortunately, which underscores the importance of hitting the market before noon. However, at around 2:00, Bossmans puts a whole table of stuff on sale for 25 cents (I bought four Holiday tea cups, each of which had a $25 dollar price tag on it!).
A gorgeous and very windy day on Canal Street.