Well, maybe this meets the Teevy challenge. Do paleterias count?
First up is La Aurora, a small little storefront on Irving Park just east of the expressway. The sign is pretty well covered by trees and the place is so close to the expressway that it?s quite easy to miss (south side of the street, by the way). The menu proclaims ?Nuestra Especialidad En Antojitos Tradicionales Mexicanos?, which of course means things like tacos, sopes, and quesadillas. But what drew me in was the signage advertising pambazos. I don?t know the genus-species relationship between pambazos, pambazos ahogados, torta ahogados, et al. My knowledge of the taxonomy of Mexican/Latin sandwiches is somewhere slightly above Indian breads. But some recent discussion of this particular sandwich on the board, and my own introduction to said sandwich at Maxwell Street recently, drew me in. Truth be told, the Maxwell sandwich didn?t win me over. This may be because it?s sold so far from where I enter the market that I?m full by the time I get there. Also, it?s large and unwieldy, especially in the hot crowded market on a paper plate and with a plastic fork. But La Aurora delivered a really tasty sandwich. I ordered mine with potatoes and chorizo (chicken is also available), and the ratio of filling to spice to bread to sauce (in which the bread is dipped) was excellent. My wife?s flauta was fine, and I didn?t care for the salsas. But we?ll go back for the pambazos for sure.
Returning home, we stopped at one of two paleterias in close proximity to where we live. Previously, I had never been to a paleteria, and I?m not sure I had ever even had a paleta, the Mexican popsicle or creamsicle sold in the ubiquitous carts. I always assumed that the carts sold corporate-produced goods, and so was pleasantly surprised to walk into Paleteria Jalisco and see maybe 5-10 deep freezers chock full of made-on-premises paletas. (I hope not to raise the ire of the ghost of Harry V as I continue to forsake my native tongue by using the word ?paleta.?) There were also a handful of carts parked in the store and several family members, one of whom assured that all the goods were made in back. I purchased a milky mango, which was quite good with nice bits of mango throughout. The offerings were quite broad, maybe 35 flavors in all. I was not convinced of the varying qualities of paleta until visiting Carnaval de Sabores. Much smaller place, fewer freezers, fewer flavors, and my milky mango just wasn?t very good. Less fresh mango goodness and a bit of a soapy taste that did not exactly complement the fruit. Plus, the stick was too short. And the actual mango bits seemed more scarce. VI, in his recent ice cream opus, declined to include paletas, because they are mostly a transient treat, and perhaps because of an uncertain quality/source relationship. I?m curious now about other particularly good paletiers and where the motherships might be located. I?ve noticed one on Foster (I think) a bit east of me (Western?), but haven?t had a chance to try.
4027 W. Irving Park
Carnaval de Sabores
(on Elston, east side, a couple blocks north of Irving Park)
(on Kedzie, east side, a couple blocks north of Irving Park)