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17

La Chaparrita

Carne asada (top) and al pastor tacos Photo: Jeff Marini

There is so much to love about La Chaparrita that it’s hard to know where to start. The Mexico City–style taquería attached to a Little Village corner grocery may look like nothing special—a Santa Muerte altar here, colorful papel picado decorations there—but look closer. The tables are set with three vibrant homemade salsas, and that wooden barrel on the counter is full of homemade pineapple tepache, of which owner Angelina Méndez will offer samples while you wait.

The real appeal is behind the counter, where Cesar Castillo, the low-key taquero, works his magic on a small griddle, a charcoal grill, and a fryer. The man serves the best homemade longaniza (a chorizo-like sausage) in town: lean, pillowy nubs that he folds into El Milagro tortillas with fresh onions and cilantro. But he really has a way with cow parts, whether moist suadero (a smooth cut between the belly and leg), soft lengua (tongue), or creamy seso (brains). Order La Chaparrita’s heroic, crispy-caramelized tripa (tripe), which tastes altogether richer than offal or meat. It’s pure carnivorous ecstasy. Not bad for $2.25.

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