Who needs denture-friendly filet mignon, artery-clogging mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, and out-of-season asparagus stalks as big as your left arm? In these uncertain economic times, if you can’t afford to pony up for a big fat prime hunk of cow, it ain’t no big thing. After all, the way I see it, Taqueria El Asadero in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood is the poor man’s Smith and Wollensky.
Amble in to this north side taqueria and you’ll find a sinewy man brewing fresh carnitas in a wobbly, ancient kettle filled with deep fryer fat. Next to him a wiry dude works the griddle, searing off marinated skirt steaks one at a time. They let the steaks rest for a few minutes, sprinkle them with salt, and slice them to order. Then they pile the caramelized meat, fat, and drippings into a fresh corn flour tortilla from local Pilsen spot, Tortilleria Del Rey. The crispy bits featuring a touch of pink interior basted in their own peppery juices. The cooks add a final sprinkle of onion and cilantro, and wrap the whole thing up in foil. Unwrap, sprinkle a touch of tomatillo jalapeno salsa and lime, and you’ve got yourself a portable steak dinner that’s as satisfying as and one fiftieth of the price of a night at your favorite beef emporium.
Taqueria El Asadero
2213 West Montrose Avenue, Chicago IL 60618 (map)