21 Tacos and Counting – Cemitas Puebla

Cemitas Cemitas Cemitas.  Oh the promise you had.  You made Time Out Chicago’s List of the 23 Best Tacos.  Check Please!, Food Network, and various local gourmands agreed that your tacos are divine.  Correction – your cemitas are divine.

Tacos – eh not so much.

To be fair, all of the reviews push the cemitas, torta-esque sammies on sesame seed bread.  Time Out recommended the tacos arabes.  They sound amazing.  Spit roasted pork and onions.  Yum.

The Fulton market location shares their block with some very notable spots: Glazed and Infused and The Publican.  Only a restaurant truly worth it’s salt should share this block.

So there we were, on a gloomy day in January, ready to be wowed.  I was feeling extra generous, because I’d just had a pedicure.  Sure I had to work later, but I was about to have tacos.  Because it was a gloomy Sunday, with the impending doom of snow approaching, parking was easy.  We parked right across the street and entered.  At the counter in back, we perused the menu with a few other customers, trying to decide what would accompany our certain-to-be amazing tacos.  Two fairly priced margaritas, chips and guacamole, a tacos arabe for me, one for the Sweetheart, plus a pata (cow-foot).  Tom likes to eat weird shit.

Cemitas Pata

Mad props to Cemitas Puebla for fresh from the fryer chips and very fresh guacamole.  The sauces on the table adjusted the heat for us, because there wasn’t really a ton of flavor to the guacamole, but we could tell it was pretty much as fresh as the chips – just made.

Guacamole, Beans, and Chips

The two margaritas, albeit on the smallish side, were only $6, and fairly good.  I danced in anticipation of the tacos to come.  Guac and sauces mixed, margaritas sipped, ready for the main event.

I knew they were coming.  Even though it was a nasty day, there were about 6 people willing to brave the snow in search of Mexican food.  I can totally relate to this thought process.  Makes perfect sense to me.  I am always willing to brave the Chicago weather for Mexican food.

As the waitress approached, I could smell the goodness.  I knew this was our order.  She placed the baskets in front of us.  Oh boy, let’s dig in!!!!!

Taco Arabe from Cemitas Puebla


As an aside, I think the problem was the level of anticipation, and the fact that our previous visit was to Tio Luis.  The tacos were good, just not great.  They were tender, just not juicy like Tio Luis.  They had good flavor, but not smack you in the face flavorful.  And I don’t blame them, no one else in the restaurant was eating tacos – they were eating cemitas.  So I think it’s unfair to rate them on an item that’s quite literally not their bread and butter.

I blame Time Out, because I really don’t think it deserves to be on the list.  Although I’m only one restaurant in, we have eaten at some of the other contenders on the list, just not during the 2015 calendar year, so I’m well aware of the caliber of food that graces this list.  Xoco and Birreria Zaragoza are excellent examples of masterful tacos that would bring a tear to anyone’s eye.  Not so much for this place.

I am, however, anxious to return…to try the cemitas.  I hear they are delicious!

Cemitas Puebla


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