Huaraches Dona Chio
1547 W. Elmdale Ave.
When we got back from Brazil we went straight for the food we craved most – in our case, BBQ and Mexican food. Fortunately, Chicago is more than overflowing with Mexican eateries, so we decided to try someplace new. Huaraches Dona Chio had a reputation for being difficult to find, but the big awning meant we did not have any trouble. On a chilly and blustery day, there could be nothing more comforting than some fresh Mexican food. Inside, the welcoming yet spartan space provides a few tables and an open view of the small kitchen where Dona Chio herself was busily at work preparing the food for the night. Her specialty? Huaraches, a type of thick, open-face masa tortilla from from Mexico City. Huarache toppings provide an almost endless variety, and HDC did not disappoint.
You can get the regulars at HDC: the usual tacos and burritos, and quesadillas. But you come for the huaraches. Naturally, we selected two huaraches as our entree (at only $6.50 each, how could we not)? L got the tinga (it came highly recommended) and M picked the huitlacoche (still his favorite from his time in Mexico). Tinga was by far our favorite. The huitlacoche was topped with both mild green and spicy red salsa, black beans, corn, white onions, cotija cheese and cilantro. The tinga, shredded chicken marinated in chipotle sauce, was topped with white onion, cilantro and a hearty helping of cotija cheese. We’ve tried a few places around town and also in other cities and these were definitely the best huaraches we’ve had. The masa was not soggy (a problem we encountered elsewhere), and the toppings were extremely generous.
Our dining companion went a more conservative route and got a plate of tacos ($2.50), noting they were excellent as well. To finish up the meal M ordered a banana chocolate smoothie. With our time in Brazil, we will never take for granted the great Mexican food selection in Chicago again (side note: We met up with a friend from Guatemala in São Paulo, who is planning on starting a Mexican food distribution business in Brazil. We hope he succeeds!). Huaraches Dona Chio is one of the fine examples: small, family-run, and serving up great regional Mexican dishes to a small but discerning clientele.