Monday, July 11, 2011

Best Horchata on the Chicago Northside

32 oz. is never enough at The Famous Taco Burrito.
The first time I tasted horchata was when my dad, an adventurous eater, and my mom, his comic foil in this regard, took us to a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place in Pilsen, Chicago’s southside home for visual artists that seek low rent. When he ordered it and I asked about it, he explained with the efficient mastery he usually employs: “It’s good. You should try it!”

Being that I was still in college at VCU and far away from authentic Mexican food, there were no opportunities to have horchata again until I returned to Chicago with my theatre class senior year. Between the L and my first destination, I stopped in a Mexican place (#3 below) and filled up on grub. I shared some horchata with Boren, offering more explanation than my dad had given me: “It’s like a milky rice drink that has cinnamon and almond flavors.” (Note: most horchata contains no milk or lactose.). As his thoughtful tasting went underway, his eyes grew to Muppet size.

Through the duration of our stay in Chicago, Boren and I stopped for horchata at every opportunity we could, which amounted to twice or more a day. Doing this we concluded that not all horchatas were mixed equal and that one should be aware of a few things:

• As with most Mexican food, the best comes from hole-in-the-wall tacquerias.
• Ice only waters it down, so request no ice. The drink is kept cold and doesn’t need it anyway.
• If you are being charged more than $2.50 (for a 44 oz.), you are being ripped off by people who likely don’t even know how to make a good horchata. (Signs of bad horchata include: chalkiness, plastic or Styrofoam taste, flecks of poorly mixed ingredients.)

While horchata was available a few places in Seattle, it was not until I moved to Chicago that it was elevated from beverage choice to lifestyle choice. Horchata is the sermon I preach to any willing stomach. I have tasted it here, there and everywhere (if “everywhere” were “Chicago’s northside”). And with this knowledge, I can pass on to you, beloved reader, my list of the best horchata on the Chicago northside.

(1) The Famous Taco Burrito – NE corner of Western and Addison
(2) La Pasadita – South of Division on Ashland
(3) Taco Burrito House – South of Irving Park & Broadway

1 comment:

Liz B-K said...

YUM! There's a place down here in HP we should try before you go, maybe? I thought the horchata was pretty tasty... :)