18th Street: The carnitas stop

A satiating subset in the sea of Mexican cuisine off the Pink Line.

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  • Photograph: Allison Williams

    Carnitas Uruapan

  • Photograph: Allison Williams

    Sabas Vega

Photograph: Allison Williams

Carnitas Uruapan

Chicago’s best Mexican food lives in Pilsen, and this stop puts you in the heart of the ’hood’s best carnitas: seasoned pork marinated and braised in its own juices and roasted to perfection. The mother lode is across from the El at Carnitas Uruapan (1725 W 18th St, 312-226-2654). There’s no menu; carnitas is it, ordered by the pound either straight up or mixtas (including crispy skin and ear) and served traditionally with corn tortillas, cilantro, onion, salsa and peppers. At $7 per pound, one pound is more than enough for one person. Two blocks east is Sabas Vega (1808 S Ashland Ave, 312-666-5180), a taqueria that has specialized in carnitas for more than 50 years. The platter for one person will easily serve a pair. No time for a sit-down meal? Get a quick carnitas fix directly next to the El at Luciano’s Carniceria y Licoreria (1714 W 18th St, 312-666-7544), a deceptively large convenience store sporting a full meat market. Take-away carnitas are available on weekends only.


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