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Tacos Garcia Restaurant

Chicago IL

3327 w armitage ave, chicago IL 60647
sun-thurs 8am-12am, fri 8am-2am, sat 8am-3am

Tacos Garcia Restaurant

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Rating: 91
Price: $$

Maybe (but maybe not) due to the fact that I hadn't eaten anything in terms of breakfast the afternoon I biked over to Tacos Garcia, they gave me a fresh outlook on how to make a good taco. I think Tacos Garcia is one of those places where you can have a truly transformative, life-changing (and life-affirming!) taco experience. Everything about this place is just a little different than you expect. The decor is classic 1970s with shiny tabletops, crazy stucco skylights, and a whole lot of wood paneling. It's dark (hence the poor picture quality) and cozy. They're open late and also function as a bar, and I'm sure this place would be a lot of fun on a friday night with the ranchera music turned up full blast. The waitress and cook were both very friendly and welcoming, and a sign on the window informed me that there was free wi-fi available (an ideal location for telecommuting into work).

Starting with the chips and salsa, nothing is as it appears. The chips, which look like standard corn chips, have one of the heartiest corn flavors I've ever encountered, almost completely drowning out the flavor of the salsa unless you really pile it on. The salsa itself is very good - there are three options, a mild tomato/onion, a medium green, and a spicy red. All three have a unique tangy quality I haven't really encountered elsewhere, but definitely works really well. Putting the spicy red on a chip, you can feel the three flavors (corn, smoky, and tangy) battling it out for supremacy in your mouth - much the way it feels when you eat a good cookies 'n' cream ice cream cone (though the taste is about the opposite).

I ordered 3 tacos - asada, pollo, and picadillo (ground beef). They came out quickly (to be fair, I was the only customer, though there were a couple phone orders) on thickish tortillas topped with lettuce and tomato. The asada had a nice, mild, salty marinade and was medium-cut. The cook fried it up into a nice chewy texture, and combined with the thickish tortillas and overflowing portions, this is an asada taco that endures. Combined with the mild green salsa, it was truly excellent, though not what I previously pictured when I imagined my ideal taco. Similarly, the pollo had a mild marinade that had a slightly sweet flavor, almost like a barbecue sauce, though without the vinegary overtones. It was nicely accentuated by a hint of lime. The ground beef also had a mild flavor, and eating it was a bit like enoying a sloppy joe on a couple tortillas instead of a hamburger bun. These tacos were all packed to the brim and were definitely a substantial meal.

On the whole, Tacos Garcia takes an unorthodox formula and makes it work for them. Perhaps this food is more traditional than I'm used to; perhaps the 1970s were a time of great division within the taco industry. Whatever the reason, Tacos Garcia is a great place to go if you're in Chicago and looking for a meal and some internet.

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