Antique Taco a unique take on the taqueria

August 3, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Every element is carefully thought-out.

Forget everything you know about taco joints. That means the packaged tortillas, the standard garnish of white onion and cilantro, even the lackluster atmosphere. At Antique Taco, the taqueria model is getting a much-needed facelift which also happens to be delicious.

Is there room for another taco joint in Chicago? When they make the tortillas from scratch and source high-quality produce from the farmer's markets, absolutely. Wicker Park's Antique Taco combines the owners' love of both antiques and tacos.. but the food isn't necessarily what you'd see in a Pilsen taqueria.

"I'd say the food is mainly focused around my background--Mexican, Hispanic, as well as very American. So I think I just meld the two together," said chef and co-owner Rick Ortiz.

That means an all-American ribeye is seasoned and grilled, then placed into warm tortillas and topped with a salsa made from heirloom tomatoes, plus queso fresco, fresh cilantro and chopped red onions.

"I'm, you know, at the farmers market twice a week just picking up fresh ingredients," said Ortiz.

Like the crunchy cucumbers and pickled onions that dress up a chicken taco, drizzled with a honey-yogurt sauce. Fresh avocado and crumbled cheese provide a creamy counterpunch to the crispy bacon and shredded pork carnitas, while the fish tacos are housed in a crispy fried shell, dressed with a sriracha chili sauce-infused tartar sauce, scallions and pickled onions.

It's not all tacos here, not by a long shot. Vibrant, seasonal corn salads, sweet treats like an horchata milkshake or a homemade pop tart, even icy cold paletas, or popsicles and an entree that truly blends Ortiz's Mexican and American heritage, featuring a corn masa biscuit with Maine lobster and Wisconsin mushrooms.

"I take a fresh Masa, it's for a tamale, but I saute some corn and then I add a little bit of shortening and some other stabilizers, and then I lay over some fresh Maine lobster that we cook every morning, and some sauteed mushrooms from River Valley, and guajillo lobster sauce," he said.

Tacos come two to an order and the average price per plate is about seven or eight bucks.

Antique Taco
1360 N. Milwaukee Ave
(773) 687-8697

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