Taqueria Santa Rita

By Victoria Wiedel | Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Address: 2752 W. Lawrence Ave.
Phone: 773-784-6055

Inside Santa Rita Taqueria, it's bright, cheerful and spotlessly clean. Credit: Victoria Wiedel

Santa Rita, 2752 W. Lawrence Ave., scores highly on each category of the Taqueria Rating System. Food is tasty and served quickly by friendly waitstaff. The place is clean and obvious care was taken with the decor. The menu includes a range of fillings and potential vessels for said fillings. It is BYOB and there is a liquor store nearby. Prices are very reasonable and its tucked away in a strip mall.

A taqueria is the Mexican equivalent of a diner. A mom-and-pop style operation where they stick to their strengths and nothing costs more than $10. So you’re not going to see foodies lined up for sandwiches with clever names and they will never launch a food truck.

To my husband, the ultimate test of a taqueria is their tacos al pastor, the Mexican equivalent of gyros or shawarma, only made with pork. The pork is marinated and slowly cooked on a vertical rotisserie called a trompo (spinning top) with onions and pineapple. Here’s another fun fact from Wikipedia: pineapple juice contains bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down protein and thus makes meat tender.

Tacos "al pastor" (top) and vegetarian gorditas (bottom) are complimented by pico de gallo and salsa roja. Credit: Victoria Wiedel

My husband gives Santa Rita’s al pastor two greasy thumbs up and recommends that you order them in a taco ($1.80 each) as opposed to in a gordita ($2.75). He also reported that their chicken filling is surprisingly moist and flavorful.

I prefer the chewy gordita, especially when it is stuffed with a chile relleno (a poblano pepper filled with cheese, breaded and fried). The trick to enjoying your taqueria experience is to discover the right combination. Santa Rita also offers tortas ($4.50), tostadas ($2.75) and burritos ($4.25) as potential vessels. Filling options also include skirt steak (carne asada), broiled beef (barbacoa), Mexican sausage (chorizo), tongue (lengua), and avocado as another vegetarian option.

For heartier appetites, Santa Rita prepares dinners (platillos) served with salad, rice and beans in the $8-$10 range. These dishes include enchiladas, fajitas, various meats drenched in green sauce or mole, and a few shrimp and fish choices. Breakfast is also served starting at 8:00 a.m. A nice touch is the hand painted tables depicting nostalgic scenes of agave plantations, which you can gaze at while munching on the complimentary chips and salsa.


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