Well rats! When Ed and I found Mykonos in Niles too crowded on Sunday night, the only way I was able to talk him into trying the scary-looking Sphinx was to remind him of the Teevy Challenge. But it turns out Zim had already written it up last December. Oh well, I suppose it's some consolation that we at least got a fun time and a great meal out of it.
But I also want to submit Los Sombreros Taqueria in Des Plaines. Typical little storefront in a typical run-down strip mall. But someone in the family has an interest in design, because the interior is not your typical tanqueria at all. Cool blue tables with wire mesh chairs, lime and white walls, a few photos of food and a clock with a transparent back so you could see the lime walls through it.
You order at the counter from a very cool and competent 12 year old who is happy to explain dishes and make recommendations. They bring the food to your table and you pay after you eat. The menu is classic taqueria choices, but the toppings for the burritos ($3.75 to $4.25), in addition to chicken, steak, ground beef, and chorizo, include sombreros (pork in a moderately spicy sauce), carnitas, lamb (called barbacoa on the sopes menu), pork legs, tripe, and tongue. They also offer zincronizadas, which is a grilled ham, bacon and cheese sandwich, for $3. They squeeze their own orange juice and offer a "Mixed" drink described on the menu as "apple o beet" which I haven't tried. But there's also clearly a more expansive menu, because the photos on the wall include things not listed on the menu, including a chicken mole, an entree based on nopales and an anonymous seafood cocktail that I know is usually called vuelve a la vida.
The food is great. Nothing is cooked before you order it except for the rice and beans, which come from the refrigerator to a microwave before they go to your plate. If you eat in, you get thick fresh chips and excellent salsa (I love the green) to eat while you wait. The 12 year old recommended the carnitas burrito or the steak torta. My daughter liked the burrito. I wasn't wild about the torta, but I cheated by telling them to leave off the mayo, so I didn't get the full torta experience. On the other hand, I could eat the sopes every day of the week. You get three with an order for $4.75 to $5.75. The barbacoa was great--real lamb flavor--and the chicken was good too. The tacos are also excellent ($1.35 to $1.75) and last night I tried the enchiladas ($6.75) which I can also recommend without reservation.
Los Sombreros Taqueria
9370 W Ballard Rd
Des Plaines, IL 60016