Budget Beat: Abuelo’s Mexican Grill in Pilsen

Vintage National Geographic covers papering the interior tell you that this new Pilsen BYO is not your ordinary taco joint. Sure, it’s got tacos on tap, but even better, a slew of tortas (sandwiches) on plump, freshly baked buns, a display case loaded with house-made desserts—don’t miss the Kahlúa-shot mocha tres leches cake—and water perked with orange or lime slices, cucumbers, and basil. The Cuernavaca natives Angel and Hugo Gomez work the room, help in the kitchen, and create a casual, friendly vibe fueled by friendly prices. “My intention,” Angel says, “is for everybody around here to be able to come and afford our food.” Sharing a sope or two ($2.99 each) is the way to do it. The saucer-size masa disks come thinly layered with black beans, then topped with red cabbage and a choice of chorizo, chicken, or steak. Follow up with a torta: Our fave is La Morena, marinated steak strips set off by subtly spicy chile morrón ($5.99). Tilapia tacos offer a delicate treat ($2.50 apiece), sour cream–drizzled flautas boast plenty of crunch (love the pulled pork filling), and vegetarians luck out with a chubby burrito stuffed with black beans, avocado, grilled portobellos, yellow squash, and sweet peppers ($5.50). 2007 S. Damen Ave.; 312-733-0329.

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