Photography: Tyllie Barbosa
Located across from an el stop in a shadowy but bustling section of Logan Square, Taquería Moran (2226 N. California Ave.; 773-235-2663) is the kind of Mexican restaurant every neighborhood should have. This is no glitzy margarita mill, though the margaritas here are terrific. Rather, Moran is a down-home taquería that caters to a colorful batch of hipsters, cops, Latino families, and working stiffs all bent on getting plenty of burrito for the buck. No problema. Tacos, either soft or crisp, go for $1.75 a pop and tostadas for $2.75. Toppings, from chorizo to carne asada to tongue (try it), are there for the asking or pointing (in case your Spanish is rusty). The menu’s a biggie, so it’s not a bad move to order several items to share. Start off with nachos estilo Mexicano (pictured here; $7), a lavishly layered pileup of chips plus trimmings served in a portion bountiful enough to fuel a soccer squad. Tortilla soup, loaded with avocado, cheese, sour cream, and tortilla strips, is comfort in a bowl, and even though the fiery coctel camarones will set you back 12 bucks, there are enough hefty, firm shrimp in it to go around the table twice. Flautas, enchiladas, and burritos are dandy, but nothing outshines the sope ($2.75), a thick yet crisp cornmeal disk, especially when it’s slathered with shredded chicken awash in mole sauce. Finish up with a sip of café, have a fling with flan, and leave Margaritaville to Jimmy Buffet.
These days it appears everything is in need of makeovers-faces, homes, wardrobes-so why wouldn’t a restaurant benefit from a new image as well? Perhaps that’s the thinking behind Jack Jones’s transformation of Bistro Marbuzet into the family-friendly Madison Street Grill (7600 W. Madison St., Forest Park; 708-366-9090), offering straightforward American fare such as pizzas, burgers, and meaty baby back ribs (pictured here; $20). And while your tummy may cry “uncle” after you devour piquant New Orleans penne tossed with andouille sausage, shrimp, and sweet peppers; chicken satay bathed in a spunky peanut sauce; and a wonderfully underbaked molten chocolate cake, your taste buds will be perfectly content.