After our trip to Mexico City, we became obsessed with finding the best tacos al pastor in Chicago. We found some excellent tacos al pastor at Xoco – but there were some downsides – it is only available once a week, and was a little pricey. We wanted somewhere we could get a cheaper tacos every day of the week to satisfy our true al pastor cravings. One name that kept coming up on our radar was Taqueria Los Barrilitos (3518 West 25th Street, Chicago, IL), so we knew we had to visit.
We rolled up to Los Barrilitos on a cold night just before Christmas, and before we committed to dining, M peeked in the window to make sure there was a trompo piled high with marinated pork. There was! We had been burned before by places that were rumored to have a trompo, but did not in reality. Score a point for Los Barrilitos! We were excited the place was festooned up brightly for Christmas, lights, decorated tree and all (even the cactus had bows for Christmas). There was no menu: you just chose from a small selection of tacos including steak, al pastor and tripe. The trompo looked pretty amazing, so we went with only the al pastor tacos ($1.75) each and a horchata rice drink.
The tacos were brought out pretty quickly by a kind waitress, along with pickled habaneros and two salsas. The tacos were bigger than we expected, and came on warm corn tortillas with the traditional onion and cilantro toppings. The al pastor was a standout, with a great color, flavor and a nice char. It definitely reminded me of some of our favorites from Mexico City. Our only knock against them was that there was no pineapple, part of the intrinsic al pastor experience.
We polished off our tacos pretty quickly and the cook even let us take a few pictures of the trompo on our way out. He actually seemed kind of humored that we took such an interest in the trompo. We left Los Barrilitos in a better mood than after most meals of 2014. These tacos al pastor are the real deal, and for the right price! Please visit Los Barrilitos ASAP (for both the al pastor and for the festive cactus).