The Lincoln Park Taqueria Finals continue with the Al Pastor Taco Category.
One mention of methodology: 13 taquerias were originally selected in the target area. They were first sampled for excellence in their basic house Chicken Taco. The reasoning being that because chicken is about the most tasteless meat, the shop that can do a great job with chicken is truly making an effort to do so. If the 13 taquerias were initially screened were also tasted for al pastor, carne asada, etc., there might well have been a different group of finalists. But many of those tasted in the early rounds did such a poor job on the chicken taco as to eliminate that place on that basis alone.
All tastings were done "head to head" against at least one other competitor, in some cases (including the Finals), against 2 other competitors.
And the winners are:
2nd Runner Up, No Medal: La Baguette Panaderia. An unusual "burnt" taste that gives way to a "greasy" taste. Greasy, fatty meat. Somewhat slimy to handle. Red salsa doesn't add much...accents the grease if anything. Too burnt & greasy to rate.
1st Runner Up (near tie), Gold Medal: Angela's Burrito Style (2546 N. Clark, just south of Wrightwood). Without salsa, more distinctively flavored than La Bamba. Salsa adds something, not much. Just overall very tasty. Should be first choice if you're looking for the "least fiery".
The Winner (near tie), Gold Medal: La Bamba Big as Your Head (2599 N. Halsted at Wrightwood). Very mildly flavored without salsa. The "driest" of all the meats. Not a bit of noticeable grease. Almost appears "cut" or "rolled" in cornstarch or other grain. Salsa definitely contributes to the overall flavor and heat index. The La Bamba salsa is unquestionably our first choice among all taquerias for their salsa. While it is unpalatable as a "chips and salsa dip", it is a tremendous meat seasoning agent that really allows the underlying flavors to come through. The overall accent is more "southwestern" than "tex mex" or "mex mex". Emphasis on chili powder & cilantro.
We had similar experience with the salsa on their chicken taco. La Bamba wins, but only with the salsa (not dry, which goes to Angelas). So if you don't mind the extra chili & heat, this is our Overall Winner in the Lincoln Park/ Lakeview AL Pastor Taco category.