Restaurants

L'Patron Tacos' homemade tortillas help Logan Square taqueria stand out

Friday, March 15, 2013

There are dozens of taquerias in Chicago, but the Hungry Hound says only a handful make everything from scratch, including the tortillas.

He says a new option in Logan Square is right off of the Kennedy Expressway, and while they sell tortas and burritos, it's the tacos that truly shine.

When you hear a former cook at Topolobampo has opened a taco joint, you tend to pay attention. And, after spending an hour or so watching him and his band of brothers marinate, sauté, grill and plate, you quickly realize this isn't your typical taqueria.

There are only a handful of seats at the tiny L'Patron in Logan Square, just a few blocks west of the Kennedy, but that hasn't deterred the faithful. They've been packing it in for the homemade Mexican street food.

"Tacos, tortas, burritos, and our only platter that has rice and beans would be the gringas," said Raul Gonzalez, one of the owners of L'Patron.

Those gringas and gringos - essentially a quesadilla of Chihuahua cheese with either beef or pork, stuffed into a homemade corn tortilla - are quietly addictive. But the secret at L'Patron is to request those homemade tortillas on your taco for an 80-cent upcharge. They make a world of difference.

"It's kind of like explaining to people the difference between buying store-bought bread and fresh bread. You get that instant gratification from something that's been made that minute," Gonzalez said.

Tacos al pastor feature pork, marinated in guajillo chiles, onions and citrus, plus pineapple.

"And he dices fresh pineapple and he adds the onions and he lets all that marinate in a container and from there it goes straight onto the flat iron," Gonzalez said.

It's griddled until charred on the flat top, then assembled with fresh onions and cilantro. Fish tacos feature battered-and-fried tilapia.

You could amp up the heat with one of two homemade salsas if you choose, or go for the carne asada: freshly-butchered beef is given a fresh lime juice shower to tenderize it, then it's seasoned with salt, garlic and paprika. Onto the grill it goes for just a few minutes, then it's chopped up to-order, stuffed into tortillas immediately.

There are also thick, two-handed tortas here, plus burritos, but it's the tacos that have rightfully gained a following for their commitment to fresh ingredients; it's also the brothers' work ethic that seems to engender respect.

"My brothers are all hard workers, there's four of us so, we're here, day-in, day-out, just trying to get people fresh, made-to-order meals," he said.

Also, be sure to try the fresh guacamole, which usually comes embedded with pomegranate seeds.

L'Patron Tacos
2815 W. Diversey
(773) 252-6335

Also mentioned:

Good Food Festival
March 16 at UIC Forum
725 W. Roosevelt
9 am to 5 pm
http://goodfoodfestivals.com/

  • 150 Exhibitors - Local and sustainable products from farms and artisanal producers
  • Good Food Court - lunch and snacks from a sampling of Chicago's local eateries
  • cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs Rick Bayless and Carrie Nahabedian
  • Preservation Kitchen - canning and pickling with Paul Virant, Perennial Virant
  • Kimchi Challenge: chefs face off in a contest to find Chicago's best kimchi.
  • Good Food Commons - twenty-minute informal sessions with experts on a variety of Good Food topics, from backyard bee and chicken care to home composting
  • Sausage Making and Gardening workshops
  • Kids' Corner, family-friendly activities

Admission: $10 online, $15 at the door
(includes exhibit hall floor, chef demos, Good Food Commons, Kids Corner, Kimchi Challenge)
Workshops are $35 online, $45 at door
Urban Farm Bus Tour is $75 online, $90 at the door

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