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Tiny restaurant in a residential building turning out huaraches and other Mexican specialties handmade from fresh masa.

Our Review

Huaraches Doña Chio couldn't be more modest: maybe four or five tables, no decor to speak of, TV on the counter usually tuned to Univision. But it's one of very few Mexican restaurants in Chicago serving huaraches, gorditas, and sopes handmade from fresh masa. This means your huarache is patted out, pressed, and grilled to order, so it's slightly crispy on the outside and moist and chewy on the inside, never tough or stale or dry. You can get your huarache prepared with a layer of red or green salsa under the rest of the toppings (or fillings, if you're ordering a gordita), but I recommend going without--that way more of the fried masa stays crispy. (And you can always add it yourself from the bottles on the tables.) The selection of toppings is impressive too: not just standards like pastor, asada, and chorizo (with or without potatoes), but also tinga (spicy marinated chicken), rajas (grilled poblanos with onion), squash blossoms, nopales (cactus), brains, and huitlacoche ("Mexican truffles") mixed with whole kernel corn. One huarache is a full meal--I didn't bring a tape measure, but I'd guess they're 14 inches long and more than half that wide. And don't try ordering two gorditas unless you don't have to do anything but lie down for the next three hours. Doña Chio also offers sopes, tacos, tortas, tostadas, burritos, and enchiladas as well as breakfast. There's also posole and menudo on weekends, but given the quality of the masa, I'd be hard-pressed to forfeit a huarache for them.

Philip Montoro

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Price: $

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