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Best of Chicago 2009

Best Cheap Mexican Restaurant

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The Reader's Choice: Carnitas Don Pedro

The Sunday-morning pork rush at Carnitas Don Pedro presents a trial of forbearance appropriate for the after-church crowd. First you have to worm your way between two counters and a handful of small tables to the back of the line, which may snake into the kitchen, where sturdy men are stirring giant copper vats of pig parts with paddles. From there, whether you're waiting for a table or takeout, you'll be inching forward amid a scrum of customers, cooks, and waitresses. If you're taking out, you'll eventually return to the front of the store, where birria, barbacoa, menudo, brain tacos, and a piquant cactus salad are ordered on the right, chicharrones, fresh chorizo, and mountains of glistening, steaming carnitas on the left. Specify meat, fat, offal, or some of each and the hombre with the long blade chops it, piles it high in a cardboard boat, wraps it tight in butcher paper, then hands it to you along with a sizable snack to help you fight the urge to break into the package on the way home. The well-seasoned carnitas, at just $5.80 a pound, are among my favorites in the city—the high volume ensures they're hot and juicy, and they come with a brilliantly flavored dark green salsa flecked with plenty of red chile. Cash only.  1113 W. 18th, 312-829-4757. —Mike Sula

Best Cheap Mexican Restaurant: Carnitas Don Pedro
  • Gary Wiviott
  • Best Cheap Mexican Restaurant: Carnitas Don Pedro

&Our readers' choice: La Pasadita

 1132 N. Ashland, 773-384-6537; 1140 N. Ashland, 773-278-2130; 1141 N. Ashland, 773-278-0384, pasadita.com.

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