Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Arturo's Tacos

I cannot tell you how happy I am to have Arturo's just a few blocks away from my apartment. It's a great value, it's quick, it's tasty, and it's open 24/7.

Enter Arturo's (on the corner of Western and Armitage) and you'll notice that everything is cooked to order in the open kitchen that sizzles directly behind the counter. They have nothing to hide. Their ingredients are fresh and they provide an excellent eating experience, sans the kitschy atmosphere.

I ordered a torta al pastor (Mexican sandwich with marinated spit-roasted pork) from the giddy clerk and then seated myself at a booth by a window. You can order takeout as well, though by doing that you'd be forfeiting the free - and dangerously addictive - chips and salsa.

The chips themselves are passable - a bit stale, a bit tasteless, but not too greasy and sufficiently crunchy. You still get a nice, good snap with each bite. Plus, the pico de gallo that comes on the side is solid, if not too spicy; trading a few jalapeños for tomatoes would most definitely improve the mix. As for the green tomatillo salsa, I found it kind of bland. There was a vague heat, but that was all that hit my palate.

When my torta came, I was excited by its colorful fillings and its big size. The greasy orange pork pieces really popped too. They were tender and juicy and smoky and tangy and could've only benefitted from being chopped more finely (the pork strips would've been better as pork cubes).

The chewy bread beautifully soaked up the pork's red al pastor oil and the guacamole that was closer to avocado paste worked well as a nice acid-neutralizer along with the sour cream. The chopped onions and beans kind of got lost in the torta hodgepodge and to be honest, I didn't even know that they were part of the sandwich until talking to one of the workers afterward.

For $5, my meal was a steal. The torta portion is substantial and if you snack on the chips and salsa, you will leave with a full stomach. Arturo's makes greasy, mouthwatering Mexican food in a very clean and straightforward, albeit tawdry, environment. Go during the late-night hours of the weekend if you want to see it transformed into a hectic haven for drunk Yupsters and Hispanics alike.

Back or Forth? I will be going back.

Arturo's Tacos - Logan Square / Bucktown - (773)772-4944 - 2001 N. Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 - Public transportation: bus 73 or the Western stop of the Blue Line.

Torta al pastor - $4.95

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