Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe
Along the Milwaukee Avenue corridor—particularly in Logan Square—there's almost a glut of Mexican restaurants. I say "almost" because I'm not sure whether there can really be too many establishments that sell refried beans and lots of things that are covered in cheese and cilantro. But it would take a dedicated lover of cilantro-covered things to sample food from every Mexican place along Milwaukee from, say, Pulaski to Western. I am not that person.
I am, however, a person who's happy to fall for the ol' 99 cents trick. By which I mean that I won't spend $30 for that rickety piece of shit I just saw in an infomercial—but $29.99? Well, that's reasonable. This tried-and-true psychological sales strategy translates well to the restaurant industry. Two-dollar tacos? Yeah, that's great, but show me a $1.99 taco and we'll talk.
Taqueria Moran is even better at this trick. In fact, when they play it, it's not even a trick anymore, they're just giving customers a really good deal: $1.75 tacos. Good ones.
Located on California, directly across from the Blue Line stop next door to Logan Bar & Grill, Taqueria Moran has its share of pricier dishes: a $14.95 seafood soup, an $11.95 fajita dinner, which are both ample, no doubt. But the menu is huge and there's plenty of items from which to make a good five-dollar lunch, especially taking into account the traditional Mexican restaurant accoutrements. As soon as you sit down, you're greeted with a basket of chips, a molcajete bowl of chunky pico de gallo, and another of briny and spicy pickled carrots with whole garlic cloves and jalapeños. At the risk of encouraging people to be cheapskates (more than I already do) you could probably order a single taco, a water, and just fill up on the chips and carrots. But that's no fun.
I tried three of the tacos on the menu: the picadillo (ground beef), adobado (pork), and the pollo (duh). They give you the option of topping them with either lettuce and tomato or cilantro and onion. I went with the later combination on all three in the name of authenticity, even though I really like tomatoes on tacos. Because I was raised on Old El Paso taco kits, ground beef tacos are my favorite. Chicken I can usually do without because so many restaurants have a real hard time retaining the meat's moisture. Taqueria Moran's chicken taco was a standout. The filling was juicy and plenty flavorful—more flavorful and more moist than the ground beef filling, which was a nice surprise. The adobado filling consisted of diced pork in what tasted almost like a sticky, Korean-style marinade. (Mexican-Korean fusion was big when I lived in Atlanta, which was fun.)
2226 N. California Ave., 773-235-2663