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Maxwell Street

Vital Information | May 27, 2002 11:14 PM

With sunday school over, we took our first trip to Maxwell Street in a while this weekend (also partially spurned by Gary's report). Today, my mom asked what we bought. Ms. VI and the chowhounditas each prattled off their various purchases and great buys. I said I bought taco's.

Which was not entirely true as I also had an empanada and a bit of some quesadilla and about 1/2 of the gigantic Oaxcan tamal. Oh and several bites of the tandoor chicken colored sweet tamal. I know this seems modest, but I was saving room for the fresh made churro cart, but I never ran across it.

After Gary's post, I tried to pay attention to post numbers, but with the sensory overload that is Maxwell, I lost track. I can only identify some of the places I ate at. Our first stop, one of our constants at the market is right past the Dominicks/porta pottie's. I believe the name has colonial in it. It is on the east side of the street and features a big cauldron of frying empanadas. They also fry fresh made gorditas, and make fresh sopes and huraches. Interestingly, if you want a taco, you get a factory-made tortilla. I enjoyed a ground beef (picadillo) empanada here. Hannah ate a cactus sope with a very spicy green sauce.

The Oxacan tamal place is easy to find, it is a few shops up from the Colonial place. I always try and eat the Oxacan tamal walking, but it never quite works out. I should really sit down one day to enjoy the bananal leaf wrapped, massive chicken stuffed tamal. It comes with an edgy green sauce that is especially hard to appreciate walking around.

Later, Hannah got an elote from someone also selling one of my favorite Maxwell Street treats, the rice pudding stuffed empanda (which I passed). Hannah made her mother very proud by removing every last corn kernal in the process of finishing the elote.

Moving south, I found some great taco's de cesina with a salsa about as thick as bbq, I'm sorry I forget the exact location of this place.

I passed on the tacos de birria when I saw the smoke from one of my favorite asada stands. You will know this is the right place by not just the thick smoke, but the constant sizzle of steaks over live charcol and mostly by the constant shouting of customer numbers. The demand for these tacos necesitates numbers. Most customers work through at least three if not more tacos here. I modestly ate two.

This stand is on the far south end of the market. The birria place was nearby. I also, with great sorry, passed on the red chili soaked torta someone was recently talking about, the thing they eat at Chivas futbol games. At this place, next to the birria stand (augmenting the Jalisco section of Maxwell street), they painted the torta loafs with the chile de arbol sauce, fried the bread in a shallow vat of oil and then stuffed it with mexican home fries (also chili colored) and steak. God that looked good, but filling.

Beside the missing churro, and the other things I passed, I also missed my absolute favorite taco stand. This is probably the same one Gary described because of the mole and fresh quesadillas. This stand, about midway between Dominicks and the Metra yard, on the east side is the only place that makes fresh tortillas for the tacos AND grills the asada over charcol, the ideal combination. Plus, the hunk these huge slabs of cheese for the quesadillas and mix up a great chunky salsa.

Believe me, I can go back next week, and if I do, I'll try and take better notes.

VI

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