Food porn: Antique Taco

by

comment

shrimp taco special, Antique Taco

It seemed for a brief time earlier this century that boutiques specializing in rusty buckets, obsolete farm implements, and hand soap outnumbered taquerias in Wicker Park. Now, uniting the two is Antique Taco, a counter-service concept from husband-and-wife duo Rick (chef) and Ashley (designer) Ortiz that marries upmarket tacos to a "vintage" aesthetic incorporating a smattering of reclaimed items for sale (paint-chipped wooden chairs, milky glass receptacles, $20 used Better Homes & Gardens cookbook).

I was prepared to be thoroughly annoyed by this, but it turns out it's not as twee as you'd imagine. The retail element is subdued, limited to few spots in an otherwise airy, spacious room—plenty of space to contemplate Ortiz's appealing menu of five tacos and other novel dishes.

These are tacos prepared with precision and care, and you can see how their relatively high price point ($7-$8 for a pair)—relative to, say, Tierra Caliente up the way on Ashland—is justified. Across the board, they're incredibly fresh and beautifully garnished—with bright greens, vivid pickles, and pastel splashes of crema. But you know what? I'll take Tierra Caliente any day (that is, until the mayor shuts it down). For all their beauty and freshness, they're too delicately seasoned—even the salsa verde on the table seems restrained. And for completely different reasons, Antique Taco is no threat to Big Star (there's limited booze and the tortillas can't hold a candle) and probably not Flash Taco either (price). But these tacos wouldn't frighten the sort of person who goes antiquing in Wicker Park (or Stephanie Rosenbloom, for that matter), and I reckon it'll do just fine.

The shrimp taco you see to the upper left—a special—was one of my favorites, filled with small, sweet, snappy shrimp dressed in a creamy corn and bean salsa.

mushroom taco

Another good one: the "market mushroom," topped with kale, pickled red onion, and a surprisingly unassertive escabeche, is nonetheless appealingly greasy.


carnitas taco

Bacon! On carnitas!—with onions, avocado, and queso fresco.


ribeye taco

There are big cubes of cheese on the rib eye. Cheese steak.


fish taco

The fish taco is overbreaded. Eat it fast or it goes mushy.


taco salad

The taco salad is built on tender baby kale and filled with dried cranberries, peanuts, and, at the moment, strawberries.


chili cheese curds

You can't see it, but these nicely fried curds sit atop some thick, sweetish Bolognese-like chili, smartly positioned on the bottom to prevent sogging.


habanero popcorn

The habanero popcorn is possibly the spiciest thing on the menu. It's hardly painful, but it's nicely buttery.

Also on the board: a masa biscuit with lobster gravy, a mole meatball sandwich, tortilla soup, horchata milkshakes, house-made paletas, a chocolate-marshmallow-stuffed pop tart, and to drink, canned beer, aguas frescas (which can be spiked with vodka), and a rosemary margarita.

Antique Taco, 1360 N. Milwaukee, 773-687-8697, antiquetaco.com

Find out how you can help

Add a comment


Daily Curiosity

Swarm Of Bees After You? Jumping Into Water Won't Get Rid Of Them