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Janitzio Burrito

Chicago IL (Lakeview)

2933 n broadway ave, chicago IL 60657
mon-weds 10am-2am, thurs 10am-3am, fri-sat 10am-5am

Janitzio (Chicago IL Lakeview) - taco review

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Rating: 83
Price: $$

The only real holidays recognized by the mainframe are those based around numeric patterns. No disrespect intended towards Hanukkah or the Day of St. Valentine, but 11/11/11 was a once in a century highlight. After celebrating the Crowning Moment, 11:11:11, in Logan Square, my business associate Vince and I returned to his Lakeview neighborhood for a post-celebration meal. Unfortunately, at this point, it was no longer 11/11/11 (having recently become 11/12/11); fear not! It appeared that most people were still in a celebratory mood, and the atmosphere was celebratorily festive.

The first thing one notices after entering Janitzio is that everyone in Chicago wears fancy black clothing. Of the approximately 12 denizens during our visit to Janitzio, I believe it was only the review party who happened to be wearing anything colorful (and I was, admittedly, wearing black pants, though they were not of a fancy variety, and would perhaps have been considered a detriment to the atmosphere of Janitzio). 11/11/11 11:11:11 had rolled in with cold breezes and followed by just a few days the first snowfall of the year, so it appears that black is here to stay - the proprietors of Janitzio will have to wait until spring to catch their first glimpses of color.

After a brief wait in line, we approached the front. I decided on two tacos: one carne asada and one al pastor. They came out quickly. The stratigraphy was as follows (bottom to top):
-Two corn tortillas
-Selected meat
-Cubed tomatoes
-Shredded lettuce
-Cheese shards
Available on the side were two salsas, one green and one red. No limes were offered, and none requested.

Both of my tacos had exceptionally finely-chopped meats. Perhaps this is a matter of aesthetics, regionalism, or simply personal preference, but I have always preferred meat chunks to be about 1 cm in their largest dimension; Janitzio brought it down to about half that. My main problem with fine meats is that you never get a big ol' hunk to really sink your teeth into and taste. Here, two days later, I'm struggling to remember much about the character of the meats themselves. By plumbing the depths of my brain's taquerial cortex, I can recall that the al pastor was fairly mild - neither particularly fruity or particularly spicy. The asada was also hard to get a firm grasp on, but I do recall it being satisfying to a hungry man. Both salsas were tasty but not mind-blowing, and both tacos ended up being best served by a layer of each.

A brief note: Janitzio (you'll note) advertises themselves as a burrito vendor. Well, if there're two things I know, it's that (1) burritos need both rice and beans; and (2) I like rice and beans together. Thanks to my business associate Vince, I managed to acquire a few forkfuls of rice and beans, and I can report that they were beyond delicious - in fact, while perhaps this is due to a couple years' absence from Southern California, I would say that they are approximately 90% as good as the beans at Juanita's (note: this is high praise).

At this point, my mind is so boggled that I don't even know whether I've ranted about lettuce on before. Now, before all you lettuceheads light up my Disqus-themed comment section with diatribes (please comment!), keep in mind that: I understand texture is important. People like texture. Lettuce provides texture. My only real problem is that, as served in most cheap (meaning inexpensive, not shabby) food establishments, the lettuce does nothing but provide texture; and, by providing this texture, it also provides an excuse to take up an inordinate amount of foodspace with a cheap and flavorless item. Everyone knows that the #1 way Subway-brand franchise restaurants get you is by subconsciously steering you towards lettuce (as soon as they [the faceless 'they' of a multinational corporation] ask what you want, the hand immediately starts hovering over the lettuce until you politely correct them), and the only way to get a good deal is to either avoid leafy greens altogether or have the good fortune to patronize a Subway with spinach as an option. While Janitzio didn't overdo it on the lettuce (and the texture was, admittedly, nice), my visceral reaction was one of outrage and vitriol. On the whole, in a neighborhood full of attractive people, Janitzio serves two purposes quite well. As an eatery, the food is reasonably priced, reasonably delicious, and reasonably convenient; and, as a fashion outpost, it is an ideal spot to scout out all the fashionable things that will soon be bastardized into goth trends.

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