While Abuelo's Grand Opening wasn't quite as exciting as a Macy's Glamorama party, it was a great day when I saw this new restaurant, half a block from my apartment and right across the street from the Damen stop of the Pink Line, open up for business. About a week after, I stopped in for a pre-Lollapalooza bite.
The meal started with chips, served with thick fresh green and red salsa, which were both a bit different from the other local taquerias in the area. The chef also brought out a delicious little amuse - stewed pork on chips, with pickled red onions. Different but also delicious. The green salsa was heavy on the cilantro, which works for me. (sidebar: do you know that genetically, some tongues interpret cilantro to taste like soap. Weird.)
Then came burritos, chilaquiles and tortas galore! Above, you'll see my roommate's vegetarian burrito, served with a side of jicama slaw. By his accounts, it was quite good (and large - only $5.50 for all that), and you'll notice that there was some thought put into the nice presentation.
Because I am a breakfast enthusiast, I went with the chilaquiles, which was invented as a smart(delicious) way to use up stale tortillas. This version came with fresh tortillas chips, a lovely green sauce, a fried egg, and beans. I think I like this dish because it reminds me of what I usually make for breakfast on the weekend - eggs with anything else I have in the fridge. It just works and it worked for Abuelo's too.
Next up, Peen's steak torta: also huge, also cheap. The best part, according to her, voice of meat, was the grilled green onions, cebollitas, layered throughout the sandwich. All in all, a hearty success.
So at Abuelo's - the food was great and very affordable, but they've also taken great pains to have a (for lack of a better word) cute interior. No offense to the other taco joints in my hood, I love you still too, but decor was never your strong point. Painted in reds and yellows, with clever art and National Geographic covers lining the walls, the look is more cafe than taqueria. Free wi-fi and flat screen TVs tuned to soccer games will hopefully bring the crowds in as well, but the food, if this meal was any indication, will keep 'em coming back. See you there!
2007 S Damen Ave
(at Cullerton St)
Chicago, IL 60608
Open Mon - Sat, 7am - 9pm