Thursday, March 15, 2012

Camela's Taqueria Keeps Me Coming Back and Back and Back... By: Brian

Brian Gersten is an Advertising Copywriter from Uptown. He enjoys dining out because everyone wants to experience something new and different and eating at restaurants is one of the simplest ways of doing so. He loves trying new cuisines or dishes and is willing to travel two hours to go out to eat. He likes focusing on the food and people in front of him and escape everyday stresses. He believes when dining with others, everyone should provide their undivided attention since it is a communal activity, although he's guilty using his phone.

Some restaurants are so utterly addicting that they make me reconsider the notion of ever cooking again. These places simply put my cooking to shame. Why go through the trouble of cooking an unsatisfying meal and then cleaning all the subsequently soiled pots, pans, and plates 3 times a day for 7 days a week?  There’s no joy in that.  Why not just pay others to do a much better job?  This is the inevitable thought process that I have whenever I eat at Carmela’s Taqueria.

Truthfully, one of the main reasons I frequently eat at Carmela’s Taqueria is that I live about 2.5 blocks away from the place. However distance is not the deciding factor for me when it comes to Carmela’s.  I only live 2 blocks away from Subway, yet paradoxically; I have never set food inside of it.  Carmela's, on the other hand, serves up some of the best Mexican food in Uptown.  It has come to a point where I have to stop by this inconspicuous taqueria at least once a week just to get my fix.  

Now, I must warn any fine dining purists that may be interested Carmela’s.  This place is probably not for you.  Carmela’s is quite literally a hole in the wall.  The restaurant only seats about 20 people at the most, the kitchen is the size of my bedroom closet, the building is a bit rundown, and the interior of Carmela’s is comparable to a gritty diner. Nevertheless, the food that they serve here is authentic, affordable, unpretentious, and unbelievable.

Essentially, this modest taqueria is just good old-fashioned street food, pure and simple.  I don't think there's anything on the menu that's over $5.  Patrons at Carmela’s basically have their choice of tacos, tortas, or burritos. There are 6 different choices of meat for each of the previous categories (marinated roast pork, skirt steak, chicken, Mexican sausage, ground beef, and tongue).  That’s everything.  That right there is the entire menu other than a few drinks and a couple of appetizers.

At Carmela’s they cook the Al Pastor meat on a traditional spit.  The Al Pastor (marinated roast pork) meat is so tender, succulent, and flavorful that it seems like it was brought here from another pork-loving planet.  They simply serve the Tacos Al Pastor on a warm corn tortilla, with fresh cilantro, chopped white onion, and a lime wedge.  Of course, they also provide a mild green salsa and a hotter red salsa, which are both excellent. 

Carmela’s is a prime example of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.  There’s nothing fancy about Carmela’s, and that’s why it’s so wonderful.  It’s simple and authentic Mexican food that leaves you wanting more, I certainly sleep well at night knowing that Carmela’s Taqueria is open everyday.  It is truly a savory savior.

Carmela's Taqueria 
1206 West Lawrence Ave.
Chicago, IL. 60640
(773) 275-5321 

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