Chicago: Great Taco Encounters of the Unexpected Kind

20090521fishtaco.jpgChicago has an authentic taqueria on almost every corner, and at least half of those are authentically bad. But, with so many good options left over, the last thing you’d ever do is go snooping around sport bars and brewpubs for a good taco. And, I guess it’s true, I wasn’t looking for good tacos in those places, but in the course of my regular eating, err research, I’ve come across two extraordinarily good tacos.

The first is the fish taco at Goose Island Clybourn, the flagship restaurant of Chicago’s local super-brewery. As of last year, the state of the fish taco in Chicago was so miserable, that Tribune scribe, and its current Cheeseburger Bureau Chief, Kevin Pang, launched a full blown viral marketing campaign replete with rubber teal blue Lance Armstrong style solidarity bracelets to support his efforts to find the best version. His findings were meager to say the least, and since then, few folks have answered his call. Now along comes Goose with a warm corn tortilla filled with freshly fried crunch tilapia nuggets coated in smokey chipotle mayo, zingy pico de gallo and a sprits of lime, maybe the best version in the city.

The second taco in question is from the downtown sports bar Theory. Filled with overworked investment bankers and more flat screens than a Best Buy showroom, you expect a decent wing or a crispy chicken finger, but not a particularly sound steak taco. But, that’s precisely what you get, an incredibly soft corn tortilla filled with perfectly salted juicy beefy nuggets featuring crispy caramelized bits girded with sweet smoky chopped peppers drizzled with a creamy velvety smooth tomatillo jalapeno puree. Maybe the best part of this new trend is after you throw down a few too many beers, you don’t have to go to a separate spot for your late night taco craving.

Goose Island

1800 North Clybourn, Chicago IL (map); 312-915-0071;


9 W Hubbard Street, Chicago IL (map); 312-644-0004;

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