By a Pair of Brewing Brits on a Culinary Adventure - James and Jord, Mash Gang.
It's no secret that we are students of food and beverage. We watch too much "The Bear" and if we had the tenacity to be chefs, we'd probably open a restaurant. This post is the first in the series that provides a look at some of the culinary "side quests" our travels take us on.
Fresh off our transatlantic flight and thrust into the bustling heart of Chicago, we were two Brits with a single mission: to dive headfirst into the city’s vibrant food scene. Our path took us from the gleaming halls of O'Hare to the humming streets of Milwaukee Avenue, where our brewing endeavours awaited. But fate had a different plan, one that involved the blinking neon, and dimly lit charm of Taqueria Los Comales.
Stepping into Los Comales is like walking into a different world – one where polished aesthetics bow down to authenticity and character. This isn’t your typical gringo taco joint. It's the kind of place Anthony Bourdain might have relished: unapologetically real and brimming with stories.
You have to step in with both eyes wide open. The ambiance is best described as 'aged to perfection,' much like a fine wine or a well-conditioned beer. The walls, adorned with hand-written signs marking the passage of time through inflationary price changes, speak of a legacy built over decades. The patina of the place isn't from neglect; it's the residue of countless meals lovingly prepared and savoured. Sure, the card machine might have needed some creative manoeuvring (well…borderline fraud), the fermenting veggies on the table might raise an eyebrow, and there is…a wait on service, but these quirks add to the charm.
A word of caution: if you're looking for pristine, this isn't your place. The restrooms have witnessed a Tijuana toilet cracker (or two) in their... let's say, rustic charm. But, as any true food lover knows, some of the best flavours are found in the most unexpected places.
Clean, but with a war story or two. Much like us!
And oh, the flavours. The tortillas, each one a perfect canvas of corn, leave a lingering scent on your hands – a reminder of the meal long after it’s over. It’s like wearing the essence of Mexico on your skin, a badge of culinary honour. The birria – oh, the birria! – is a revelation. Tender, flaky, and steeped in flavour, it's accompanied by a rich, soul-warming consommé. Fresh cilantro and onions add a burst of freshness, and the melting Oaxacan cheese ties it all together in a gooey, delightful package.
Leaving Taqueria Los Comales, we were not just full; we were transformed. We came seeking a meal, but we left with an experience – a delicious, unforgettable dive into the heart of Mexican cuisine. Our bellies were full of sublime flavours and, perhaps, generous servings of Micheladas and Modelos.
In a city like Chicago, where culinary wonders lurk around every corner, Taqueria Los Comales stands out as a testament to the beauty of authenticity and the enduring allure of Mexican cuisine. To anyone willing to look beyond the surface, it promises an adventure worth savouring. Los Comales doesn’t stand alone either. With Taquerias and Puerto Rican joints on every street, we are excited for the next adventure.