Friday, July 12, 2013

Antique Taco

Tacos are very simple and taquerias are everywhere in Chicago.  They are like hamburgers in that most people like them and you can find them everywhere.  Just about anyone in Chicago could easily walk to at least one taco joint.  At their most basic, a taco is simply some meat in a tortilla.  Because tacos are very basic though, it leaves a lot of room for creativity.  A couple of places that serve what are essentially gourmet tacos have opened in the same neighborhood (Wicker Park) within the last couple of years.  I wrote about Big Star previously, I will talk now about the other, Antique Taco.  When Antique Taco opened (it opened several months after Big Star), an article asked whether there was room for two gourmet taco joints in Chicago.  I would argue yes, because while the tacos served at both places may be similar, the restaurants are very different.  While Big Star is a Honky Tonk that plays a lot of classic country music (on vinyl) in a converted garage, Antique Taco is a vintage store front that has a lot of antiques.  The storefront is located on a corner and has windows on two sides.  There is a patio on one side that consists of several long picnic tables surrounded by a fence made of old pallets.  Inside, there is a "passageway" that leads from the front of the restaurant to the rear where the counter where orders are placed is located.  The menu is written on a board behind the counter as well as printed on cardboard takeout menus.  The space has a tin roof which is painted white and hanging lights as well as exposed ventilation.  There is a bookcase next to the counter that looks like a shelf that might be seen in an old general store that holds a variety of  small antiques.  The counter looks as if it is made from recovered wood.  The tables are old heavy wood and the seats are backless and made of very heavy wood.  I made my order at the counter and since it was a very nice day when I went, I decided to eat on the patio.  As is the case in other restaurants, my drink (or should I say "drink") arrived first.  I got a Horchata Milkshake.  Horchata is a sweet rice milk drink served with a lot of cinnamon.  It is not normally frozen though.  This was not completely frozen, it was frozen like a milkshake is supposed to be.  The fact that it was frozen is not a complaint, it was a milk shake and is supposed to be frozen and it was very good.  It was sweet and creamy and had a lot of cinnamon and tasted as I would expect a frozen horchata to taste. 

For my dining pleasure, I ordered two types of tacos, Carnitas and Market Mushroom.  The Carnitas tacos arrived first.  There were two tacos per order.  The Carnitas Tacos came with Carnitas Taco with  an Adobo Rub, Tamarind Glaze, Spinach, Red Onion, Avocado, and Queso Fresco and were topped with a nice and crispy piece of Bacon alomg with a slice of lime to provide some citrus brightness.  The adobo provided some spice, the tamarind added some tanginess, the spinach and avocado provided some vegetal flavor as well as some color, and the bacon provided bacon because everything is better with bacon.

I finished things off with my Market Mushroom Tacos.  While I like mushrooms, these were a lot better than I expected.  The mushrooms were whole cooked button mushrooms.  Because whole mushrooms were used, smaller mushrooms were used than those that you would normally find in a package of mushrooms in the grocery store.  They were tender, well seasoned and perfectly cooked.  In addition to the excellent mushrooms the tacos had Guajillo Cream, Arugula, Radishes, and a Spicy Tamarind Sauce on the side.  The ingredients of the tacos were crisp and fresh and it was like eating a mushroom salad by hand.  

Antique Taco is nice and friendly and they use flavor combinations that provide a tasty variety with each bite.  The food here is good and I would be happy to return.

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