Today I finished off tastings at the remainder of the "Nabe" taquerias. The Nabe being roughly Lincoln Park & Lakeview from Fullerton to Addison and west to about Sheffield or so.
One quick note to mexican "snobs". I subscribe to the theory that tex-mex, southwestern-mex, haute-mex, and all other forms are legitimate cuisine. Mexican cuisine has just migrated so much with the mexican people that I'm no longer looking for an "authentic" taste but an "interesting" taste. So, I have a very "open mind" when it comes to mexican: just about anything with chili, cilantro, jalapeno, some mexican cheese and a mexican name is fair game for me.
The tasting benchmarks are guacamole and a chicken taco with eberything.
1) El Burrito Mexicano 936 W. Addison at the Wrigley Field EL. Taco: Lovely spice to the lean chicken. Nothing not to like but a bit too "plain". Just meat/lettuce/ and nearly invisible dash of cheese. No sour cream, no onion, etc. Salsa didn't add much. A great "starter" taco to add a few ingredients to, might be awesome. Perhaps a more complicated preparation here (like a burrito?) would be more flavorful. As is just a bit too tasteless to make it to the finals. Guacamole: wouldn't serve a side order.
2) Taco / Burrito Express (Clark s. of Addison). Taco: Fatty chicken, very tasteless despite the mountain of cheese. Nothing interesting. El Burrito Mexicano above is definitely more interesting for the immediate area around Wrigley but the Taco Bell at the corner might beat them both.
3) Tradicion. 958 W. Belmont at the El. Even a 3 dollar taco & side order here gets a complementary basket of chips and interesting cilantro-infused salsa. Taco was not remarkable. Guacamole was beautiful, easily the most interesting "looking" I've seen on the crawl, but quite tasteless as is. Needs cilantro, onion & fresh lemon then might be really great. Better "starter" guacamole than the place mentioned in Crawl Phase Two. Not "mayonaisey" at all...just needs to kick the flavors up. Nice medium & smaller chunks of avocado.
FINALISTS: The finalists for final head-to-head tasting will be announced shortly.