Craving Mexican Food? Head to Chicago (Really!)


Welcome to Eat Like a Local! From late-night burgers in Nashville to a life-changing date shake in Palm Springs, we traveled across the U.S. to find the spots that are really hitting home.

Chicago’s most iconic foods—hot dogs, deep-dish pizza, and Italian beef—are well-worn (and fiercely debated) topics of discussion. But if you really want to know what makes this one of the best eating cities in the world, well, I hope you like to talk about regional Mexican food. Since the early 20th century, most of the Mexican immigrants to Chicago came from the country’s central and southern states, bringing with them the meaty braises and stews of Jalisco (most famously pozole), fiery salsa de molcajete from Guerrero, and golden-fried pork carnitas and fresh-juice paletas from Michoacán.

Today, there are nearly a million Chicago residents with Mexican backgrounds, and as you might expect, there is a seemingly endless variety of regional Mexican cuisine to be found at mom-and-pops everywhere from the southwest-side neighborhood of Little Village to, increasingly, suburbs like Berwyn and West Chicago. Many of the dishes that are common here are unicorns outside of their Mexican birthplaces, so I visited the kitchens of a few of my favorite restaurants to learn the secrets to re-creating them at home.

Pambazos at La Cocina de Maria

The sandwich alone is worth the trip to this five-table restaurant in the western suburbs. Chef-owner Tony Schmidt grew up in the Guerrero state, and his wife, the namesake Maria, is from Mexico City, which accounts for the menu’s array of antojitos, i.e., “little cravings.” Among them is her time-tested family recipe for pambazo, a not-so-little torta filled with potatoes and crumbled chorizo, the whole of which is basted in salsa, then griddled until it’s got a lightly crisp finish.

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Source:: Bon Appetit