Restaurants & Bars

Chicago Area Taqueria

Get thee to Taqueria Puebla

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Get thee to Taqueria Puebla

Seth Zurer | May 9, 2004 08:45 PM

During the long ago age when RSTs stalked the board, he and others spoke with intense affection of a tiny taqueria/laundromat at North Ave and Lawndale that serves a fascinating selection of authentic pueblan food - chileatole, tacos arabes and orientales, mixiotes, tacos de moronga (pueblan blood sausage) and cemitas. I went once about 3 months ago to make an initial foray. The taco arabe was very good, although the arabe sauce was a little sweet for me, the chileatole was a taste that I couldn't acquire on one sampling.

Tonight, driven by visions of sesame seeds and Calvin Trillin's article in the latest Gourmet about eating while standing in the streets in Puebla, I finally got back to Taqueria Puebla to check out the cemita. I wish I'd gone there sooner: I'd have 3 months worth of cemitas to think back fondly on, instead of only one.

What a sandwich! The bun is light with a crumbly crisp crust and toasted sesame seeds liberally scattered on top. I had a milaneza - gooey melting cheese, deep fried meat and intense sweet/smokey chipolte chiles in syrup. This is the best sandwich I've had in a long time. Really incredible. If you haven't been yet, go now...if you've been before, go again...if you're new to the board, go back to the ancient times, and seek out RST's encylopedias. They will guide you well.

Here's a jonathan gold article about cemitas in LA: http://www.laweekly.com/ink/04/09/cou.... he does a much better job describing the pleasures of the milanesa cemita than I can.

"beef pounded to the thickness of a playing card, dredged in flour, and fried in clean oil to a sort of bronzed, leathery crispness that is closer in every way to a really large Maui potato chip than to anything you might call steak. The barbacoa cemita is delicious, but the elements of a cemita really come together with a cemita de milanesa, an essay in contrasts between the heat of the fried beef and the rubbery coolness of cheese; the searing heat of the chiles against the bland smoothness of the avocado; the solidity of the roll against the fragility of its filling."

The only thing missing from tonight's sandwich was the papalo: the saopy herb that is supposed to be an essential element of the sandwich. I inquired after it, and was treated with an introduction to tony (who I take to be the son of the owner) who described the family's valiant (if ultimately tragic) efforts to raise papalo in window boxes in their apartment over the winter. He said they typically buy the herb, when the home-grown stash runs out, but by the time sunday night rolls around, the weekends supply of store-bought has usually gone slimey. Once the weather heats up the papalo will return. And so will I. For more cemitas, to try out the mixiote and the pepian verde. So should you!

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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