It’s taco day, it’s taco day. I run around the house on taco (margaritas) day like a kid on Christmas. OK, we were lying on the couch, but mentally I was doing toe touches and cheerleader flips. I’m just a lot more chill on the exterior.
Next on the infamous, ubiquitous list: should we go to La Lagartija or De Colores? The LIST dictates a sweet potato taco at De Colores, and a shrimp taco at La Lagartija, Hmmm tough choice.
Or not. I hate shrimp. I’ve always hated it. I hate lobster too. I like other shellfish, even ugly, gross things like oysters and mussels. For some reason, the texture of shrimp and lobster reminds me of a scene from “Animal House.”
It squishes in my mouth, I can’t get over it. Somehow, that’s where we went. I was too curious about La Lagartija because it is located around the corner from my 3rd home/second job, the United Center. How is there a taco joint, allegedly one of the 23 best around the corner from the stadium and I haven’t been there and / or don’t know about it? Lord knows I’ve been to the other crappier places near the UC (read the Park Tavern and the Ogden).
Once we made the call and found out that yes, they do serve alcohol, we decide to head right there. I have to work so could we possibly do the two-fer? One before, one after? La Lagartija before, De Colores post-shift? We really are two crazy middle agers.
Because it’s literally so freaking close, we park in the employee lot and walk over. It’s nice enough out, and the weather isn’t terrible. Plus, because of the 32 day streak of below 30 degree weather, I’m convinced the blood has congealed to the viscosity of the Chicago River. We walk with our coats open.
Two minutes later, we are sitting at the bar with chips and guacamole. I ask my usual amount of questions from the nice server who is helping us (What is your favorite here?, Which one would you pick, carne asada or al pastor?) So we wind up with 2 shrimp, one al pastor, and one BBQ beef.
Jesus, Time Out Chicago didn’t lie! I hate shrimp but damn, those shrimp tacos are good. Really good. I didn’t mind the texture at all. They come with two sauces, a sort of not-so-blaring cocktail sauce and some form a cream sauce. I melded into a really great taste that cannot be described. I’ve never had anything like it before, and it totally enhanced the shrimp. I would actually eat this again. Then the BBQ beef arrived, and with it, the tear in my eye. The only reason why Time Out didn’t pick this one is because it’s only served on special. It was special. It was really special, if a taco could be called special. As I sit here with a sour tummy, I think, I would risk it all for another BBQ taco, consequences be damned! After all was said and done, Tom ordered another shrimp taco. Gentleman that he is, he offered me some, because the shrimp was hot from the fryer, and even better, he said, than the first one. I couldn’t. I’d wasted all my belly real estate on chips and guacamole and the first round of tacos. I thought about doing a couple of laps around the block to make myself barf, just to have the extra room, but I couldn’t. I finished my wonderfully strong margarita and pushed away my plate.
The two-fer didn’t happen. I worked my shift, and I was still awkwardly, painfully full. So much so, I’m fairly certain I was walking like a penguin. So we hit some dive (the Barrel) in Pilsen and ran into some old friends. Although we failed in our way too ambitious attempt to hit two spots in one day, we certainly hit the jackpot in terms of great taco places down the block from the UC. I gave it such a rave review, a co-worker visited it a few days later, also to rave reviews.