Futile debates over the relative merits of Las tres Pasaditas recently became more complicated when the Espinoza family, which runs the legendary trio of Ashland Avenue taquerias, quietly opened a fourth outpost in North Mayfair last fall. At least they're spreading the love, but, much like the original "La Chiquita" on the east side of Ashland, Taqueria LP Express is bare-bones—counter seating with a limited menu of tacos, tortas, a few platillos, and burritos (including the supersized $12 Ultimate Burrito).
The mini chain's carne asada tacos are tasty for sure, but they're not much more special than those at hundreds of other taquerias around town (certainly no better than this place). The important thing is the salsa. No La Pasadita taco would be worth its $2 without a liberal application of the roasted jalapeño salsa negra. Powerful stuff. God help you if you wander by "La Nueva" (1132 N. Ashland) when they're roasting a batch—the airborne capsaicin particulate will drop you like a masher with a face full of pepper spray. But one look into its smoky, Stygian depths puddled in the crevasse of a salty, gnarled tortilla chip conjures up so many misty memories of late-night salvation-by-taco experiences. If I could pick my own superpower I'd shoot it from my fingertips.
There's a lot to be said for the sobering qualities of daylight. It never occurred to me until yesterday that I could take some of this magic stuff home. But for a mere $2.21, the senora behind the counter at LP Express obligingly filled a medium Styrofoam cup to the brim and bagged it with a smile. I don't know how often the folks at any of the branches would be willing to honor this request, but I'm going to keep making it.
Taqueria LP Express, 4968 N. Elston, 773-282-8226