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Birrieria de la Torre [Diamond in the Rough]

Birrieria de la Torre [Diamond in the Rough]
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  • Birrieria de la Torre [Diamond in the Rough]

    Post #1 - November 7th, 2006, 9:21 am
    Post #1 - November 7th, 2006, 9:21 am Post #1 - November 7th, 2006, 9:21 am
    LTH,

    One morning last week I had a slightly cryptic message on my voice mail from Pigmon, "68th and Pulaski, 12:30, couple of carne en su jugo places I want to check out" Pigmon knows his way around a bowl of carne en su jugo, and is an interesting fellow to boot, so I found myself on 68th, which is equidistant from two places serving carne en su jugo, Birrieria de la Torre and Taqueria El Herradero. As an added bonus Pigmon shows up with ReneG just as Steve Z pulls up.

    First up was Birrieria de la Torre, a pocket size 10-stool place that smells like home cooking, sparkles with positive energy and makes everything from scratch including corn tortillas. I very much enjoyed Torre's carne en su jugo, rich long simmered broth, thinly sliced grilled skirt steak, radish, bacon, white beans and not a hint of salty bouillon. The broth, which was not salty in the least, a real deal breaker, at least for me, in carne en su jugo, seemed to become richer, more full flavored as I ate. Coupled with crisp fried dried chile de arbol, chopped onion, cliantro and tortilla hecho a mano this was one delicious bowl of carne en su jugo.

    We shared a birriera plate, which was quite good, not surprising as birrieria is a specialty of the house, which came with delicious, and slightly unusual, yellowish refried beans. The beans used are white beans, same as in the carne en su jugo, the yellow coming from the spice mix sazon, which Iris said was made in house. Speaking of Iris, cashier, waitress, busperson, she has one of those increasingly rare wide sincere smiles that make it virtually impossible not smile along with her.

    Iris mentioned birrieria consommé is a big seller followed by posole and carne en su jugo, tacos and plate lunches looked quite good as well. Birrieria de la Torre is a gem of a place which I intend to explore further, I only wish I lived a little closer.

    Taqueria El Herradero, a block South, is larger with a few tables/booths and seemed like a nice place, I only wish the carne en su jugo had been better. According to Pigmon one of the worst sins of carne en su jugo is shortchanging the broth by use of beef base/bouillon this leads to a predominately salty taste with little of the deep rich long simmered beef flavor that exemplifies the better versions of carne en su jugo. El Herradero fell into this category.

    Tacos were ok, though both birrieria and cecina were a bit on neutral flavored side, al pastor slightly salty. The one surprise, and something I would definitely go back to Herradero for, was a window special of Casuela tacos. Casuela, at least at El Herradero, is barbacoa sauced and spiced like a slightly spicy al pastor. The spicing reminded me a bit of the chile de arbol sauced birrieria served on the weekends at Sabas Vega.

    Pigmon and ReneG, intrepid culinarians they are, went on to Los Tres Gallos in Melrose Park for another bowl of carne en su jugo. Good company and an introduction to the diamond in the rough Birrieria de la Torre. Thanks for the cryptic voice mail Pigmon.

    On another note, if one finds themselves in the 4000 block of South Pulaski with a little time to spare an interesting stop is Five Continents, a warehouse type store with a huge multi Asian selection of dry goods and a somewhat smaller selection of Hispanic and others. Large selection of fresh fish, shellfish, turtles, eels etc. in tanks and an interesting selection of produce and frozen food. I don't really consider 5 Continents a destination place, but if you are in the area a stop is worthwhile.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Birrieria de la Torre
    6724 S Pulaski
    Chicago, IL
    773-767-6075

    Taqueria El Herradero
    6828 S Pulaski
    Chicago, IL
    773-284-8560

    Los Tres Gallos
    112 N. Broadway
    Melrose Park, IL

    Sabas Vega
    1808 S. Ashland Ave.
    Chicago, IL
    312-666-5180

    Five Continents
    4000 W 40th St (4000 S Pulaski)
    Chicago, IL 60632
    773- 927-0100
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #2 - November 7th, 2006, 11:05 am
    Post #2 - November 7th, 2006, 11:05 am Post #2 - November 7th, 2006, 11:05 am
    G Wiv wrote:The broth, which was not salty in the least, a real deal breaker, at least for me, in carne en su jugo, seemed to become richer, more full flavored as I ate.


    One could look high and low throughout our great city and be lucky to find another restaurant where this statement is even remotely true. It is an unquestionable fact that virtually every bowl of carne en su jugo that I've ever tried was highly salty, usually from bouillon or from a voluntarily heavy hand with the salt. It's normally because of the former.
    Birrieria de la Torre is the one and only place I've ever tried where I had to ask myself whether I should add salt in some fashion or another.
    This broth is unadulterated in its purity. No additives used here whatsoever.
    As Gary mentions, the soup was bland initially but seemed to gain momentum on the palate, flavor-wise as well as its saltiness . For me, this is what makes Birrieria de la Torre's bowl of CESJ unique (not necessarily always better) from the others.
    Birrieria de la Torre's carne en su jugo is definitely worth making the trek for.
  • Post #3 - November 7th, 2006, 10:16 pm
    Post #3 - November 7th, 2006, 10:16 pm Post #3 - November 7th, 2006, 10:16 pm
    PIGMON was nice enough to ask me to join him on an excursion to Birrieria de la Torre this evening. My experiece with carne en su jugo is limited to only a handful of establishments in the Chicago area, so I humbly add to the chorus here: the bowl I was served tonight was the best that I have ever had. The broth was truly marvelous. It had some real body, and an intriguing earthy-vegetal character, as well. Wow. That's all I can say.

    E.M.
  • Post #4 - November 9th, 2006, 8:33 pm
    Post #4 - November 9th, 2006, 8:33 pm Post #4 - November 9th, 2006, 8:33 pm
    I don't have a lot to add to Gary's words so I'll just supply pictures.

    First up was Birrieria de la Torre, a pocket size 10-stool place that smells like home cooking, sparkles with positive energy and makes everything from scratch including corn tortillas.

    Image
    I very much enjoyed Torre's carne en su jugo, rich long simmered broth, thinly sliced grilled skirt steak, radish, bacon, white beans and not a hint of salty bouillon.

    Image
    Coupled with crisp fried dried chile de arbol, chopped onion, cliantro and tortilla hecho a mano this was one delicious bowl of carne en su jugo.

    Image
    We shared a birriera plate, which was quite good, not surprising as birrieria is a specialty of the house, which came with delicious, and slightly unusual, yellowish refried beans.

    Image
    Speaking of Iris, cashier, waitress, busperson, she has one of those increasingly rare wide sincere smiles that make it virtually impossible not smile along with her.

    Image
    Taqueria El Herradero, a block South, is larger with a few tables/booths and seemed like a nice place, I only wish the carne en su jugo had been better.

    Image
    The one surprise, and something I would definitely go back to Herradero for, was a window special of Casuela tacos. Casuela, at least at El Herradero, is barbacoa sauced and spiced like a slightly spicy al pastor.

    Image

    Torre is a terrific little place, well worth visiting. I liked it so much I returned today and was equally impressed. Thanks to PIGMON for suggesting it.

    Birrieria de la Torre
    6724 S Pulaski Rd
    Chicago
    773-767-6075
    Mon-Fri 9-10, Sat-Sun 8-10
  • Post #5 - November 9th, 2006, 9:41 pm
    Post #5 - November 9th, 2006, 9:41 pm Post #5 - November 9th, 2006, 9:41 pm
    What exactly is going on with those yellow refried beans? Why are they yellow? What type of beans are used?

    This is a Mexican side dish I've never seen or heard of and I'm intrigued. Is it specific to a region of Mexico?

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #6 - November 9th, 2006, 11:36 pm
    Post #6 - November 9th, 2006, 11:36 pm Post #6 - November 9th, 2006, 11:36 pm
    eatchicago wrote:What exactly is going on with those yellow refried beans? Why are they yellow? What type of beans are used?

    This is a Mexican side dish I've never seen or heard of and I'm intrigued. Is it specific to a region of Mexico?

    Best,
    Michael


    They seemed to be navy beans or small white beans. They are yellow due to the method they use for preparation, though I can't place the exact spices. I don't think it's tumeric.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #7 - November 10th, 2006, 12:23 am
    Post #7 - November 10th, 2006, 12:23 am Post #7 - November 10th, 2006, 12:23 am
    stevez wrote:They seemed to be navy beans or small white beans. They are yellow due to the method they use for preparation, though I can't place the exact spices. I don't think it's tumeric.

    Steve,

    White beans, same as in the Carne en su Jugo. The yellowish tint in the refried beans comes from annatto/achiote.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #8 - November 10th, 2006, 5:23 am
    Post #8 - November 10th, 2006, 5:23 am Post #8 - November 10th, 2006, 5:23 am
    Rene G wrote:Torre is a terrific little place, well worth visiting. I liked it so much I returned today and was equally impressed.

    Mr. Rene G,
    I guess we were on the same page about an immediate revisit to Birrieria de la Torre. A few days after we went, I too had a strong need to go back and try one of their other offerings.
    I'm no authority on pozole or anything but I do consider myself a complete nut when it comes to soups of any kind. Torre's version of pozole is amazing: one of the few I've tried that approaches a truly great homemade version. Like their carne en su jugo, its broth is beautifully sublime with big chunks of not overly dried-out pork.

    Image

    I can't wait to retry it. Fantastic stuff!
  • Post #9 - November 10th, 2006, 9:17 am
    Post #9 - November 10th, 2006, 9:17 am Post #9 - November 10th, 2006, 9:17 am
    It's always difficult to tell what lurks beneath the surface of these soups, but was this pozole of the dense, corny kind ? Of the pozoles that I've enjoyed, the majority were actually light on the hominy, but excelled due to a rich broth. Having said that, the 1 or 2 that I've tried that have been heavily corn-fed, I've enjoyed even more, but seem a little more difficult to find.

    Looks mighty tasty.
  • Post #10 - November 10th, 2006, 9:56 am
    Post #10 - November 10th, 2006, 9:56 am Post #10 - November 10th, 2006, 9:56 am
    I've never seen a bowl of pozole that looks like the one pictured above. The photo didn't get switched, did it?
  • Post #11 - November 10th, 2006, 10:01 am
    Post #11 - November 10th, 2006, 10:01 am Post #11 - November 10th, 2006, 10:01 am
    Looks pretty standard to me, except for the lettuce -- an acceptable but unusual substitute for cabbage. Substantial hunk of pork, too.
  • Post #12 - November 10th, 2006, 10:06 am
    Post #12 - November 10th, 2006, 10:06 am Post #12 - November 10th, 2006, 10:06 am
    JeffB wrote:Looks pretty standard to me, except for the lettuce -- an acceptable but unusual substitute for cabbage. Substantial hunk of pork, too.


    Yeah the only thing looks odd to me is the size of the hunk of meat.

    Pozole does come in multiple colors: rojo, verde, blanco. Bill, Perhaps you are used to seeing a different color?

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #13 - November 10th, 2006, 7:00 pm
    Post #13 - November 10th, 2006, 7:00 pm Post #13 - November 10th, 2006, 7:00 pm
    PIGMON wrote: Torre's version of pozole is amazing: one of the few I've tried that approaches a truly great homemade version.

    For anyone hoping to have a bowl of posole at Torre, let me mention it's available Mon-Thu only. Now I wish I'd tried it but I really wanted the carne en su jugo again. It was as good as before but presented a little differently, with the garnishes applied in quadrants.

    Image

    I love the roasted knob onion floating in there, never saw that anywhere else. I also got a torta milanesa to go. It was good but with all the other great things at Torre, probably not worth ordering.
  • Post #14 - November 10th, 2006, 7:09 pm
    Post #14 - November 10th, 2006, 7:09 pm Post #14 - November 10th, 2006, 7:09 pm
    Rene G wrote:I love the roasted knob onion floating in there, never saw that anywhere else.


    I was pleasantly surprised to find the grilled knob onions, too. My go-to establishment for CeSJ is El Taco Veloz on Chicago Ave., and over the years I have taken to ordering a plate of cebollitas asadas and CeSJ, then combining the two. I thought that it was just me. ;)

    E.M.
  • Post #15 - November 11th, 2006, 7:26 am
    Post #15 - November 11th, 2006, 7:26 am Post #15 - November 11th, 2006, 7:26 am
    tatterdemalion wrote:It's always difficult to tell what lurks beneath the surface of these soups, but was this pozole of the dense, corny kind ? Of the pozoles that I've enjoyed, the majority were actually light on the hominy, but excelled due to a rich broth. Having said that, the 1 or 2 that I've tried that have been heavily corn-fed, I've enjoyed even more, but seem a little more difficult to find.

    Looks mighty tasty.


    I wouldn't describe it as "dense" in consistency but would say that it was certainly flavorful.
    Lurking beneath the surface lies a well-proportioned amount of hominy; not too much but certainly ample.
    Those chunks of pork pictured happen to shred and integrate beautifully into the soup.
  • Post #16 - November 11th, 2006, 11:09 am
    Post #16 - November 11th, 2006, 11:09 am Post #16 - November 11th, 2006, 11:09 am
    I wouldn't describe it as "dense" in consistency but would say that it was certainly flavorful.
    Lurking beneath the surface lies a well-proportioned amount of hominy; not too much but certainly ample.
    Those chunks of pork pictured happen to shred and integrate beautifully into the soup.


    Oh god bless. Every time I looked at that photo, that is exactly what I fantasized, so I'm glad to hear the confirmation.

    Unfortunately I won't be able to sample that particular bowl anytime soon, but I'm hoping to find good versions in my new settlement of Austin.
  • Post #17 - December 27th, 2006, 8:00 am
    Post #17 - December 27th, 2006, 8:00 am Post #17 - December 27th, 2006, 8:00 am
    LTH,

    Stopped at Birrieria de la Torre last night to pick up carne en su jugo, my wife has become a CESJ fan ever since her first taste on the 47th-a-Thon, and Torre is a particularly good example*

    To fortify myself for the drive home I had both a birriera and carne asada taco on house made corn tortillas with a side of terrific refried beans. Birriera taco was delicious, carne asada fine, but next time I'll try barbacoa, lengua or al pastor.

    The carne en su jugo was packed extremely well, skirt steak laden broth in a sturdy plastic container along with house made corn tortillas, lime, radish, cilantro, diced onion, house made hot sauce, grilled knob onion, a good size mound of crisp bacon packed separate to retain crisp, even a few chile de arbol to crumple in the soup.

    As an aside, for anyone looking for an hour to kill on a Midway Airport run there is a perfectly reasonable bar one door South of Torre's. Nothing fancy, but the place is spotless, bartenderess friendly, drinks reasonable. And, as an added bonus, the entire house plays Wheel of Fortune along with Vanna, who still looks damn good.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    *As discussed at lenght upthread
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #18 - January 10th, 2007, 8:33 am
    Post #18 - January 10th, 2007, 8:33 am Post #18 - January 10th, 2007, 8:33 am
    Finally made it here last night. Had a Midway pick up at 8, and I've been looking forward to trying the CESJ for weeks. It seemed a little on the salty side (than what I expected after reading previous posts) on my visit, but very good nonetheless. If it had about 1/3 less salt than it did last night, I would easily rate it sublime. Definitely be back for this when the chance presents itself. Actually, my mouth just started watering from thinking about it -no joke! G Wiv - BIG Thank You for this post!!
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #19 - October 23rd, 2007, 4:16 pm
    Post #19 - October 23rd, 2007, 4:16 pm Post #19 - October 23rd, 2007, 4:16 pm
    seebee wrote:If it had about 1/3 less salt than it did last night, I would easily rate it sublime.


    Thought it appropriate last night, with the cold rain and all to have my first seasonal bowl of Carne en su jugo. Of course, the first place to pop into mind for my initial CESJ outing of the season was Birrieria de la Torre. I savored every spoonful.
    Seebee is dead on about the saltiness but you'd be hard pressed to find very many bowls around town that aren't equally if not more salty.
    I think their base broth is as good as you'll find anywhere and the thickness it gets from the slightly disintegrated white beans adds a wonderful body to it.

    If you're in the mood for a great bowl of soup on a cold fall day, I highly recommend making the effort and heading to this place.

    It's pretty damn cozy as well.
  • Post #20 - December 8th, 2009, 2:14 pm
    Post #20 - December 8th, 2009, 2:14 pm Post #20 - December 8th, 2009, 2:14 pm
    G Wiv wrote:First up was Birrieria de la Torre, a pocket size 10-stool place that smells like home cooking, sparkles with positive energy and makes everything from scratch including corn tortillas.


    No longer a pocket-sized, 10-stool place, Birrieria de la Torre has expanded; now, it is a two-store operation. The first word that came to mind when I walked into this newly spiffed-up place was "festive." Because it is so new, everything is spit-shine clean. But don't be deceived by its newly gringo-ized decor, as promised above and by PIGMON himself, they still serve a formidable bowl of carne en su jugo, the reason for the visit. (One person in our party had pozole.) The broth, definitely homemade, and not at all too salty IMHO, had a depth of flavor that could be adjusted to taste with the use of garnishes, which included minced white onion, radish, chopped cilantro, extra bacon, ancho chile (either the pasty salsa on the table or straight up dried anchos), and very precious charred knob onions. I found that I liked a little extra white onion, cilantro and heat in mine. I agree with the comment above that, although at first the broth seemed bland, it became more deep and flavorful with every spoonful. The CESJ is served with tortillas hecho a la mana.

    Image
    Steaming bowl of CESJ

    Image
    Tortillas

    It's not just the jugo that deserves attention, though; plentiful bits of skirt steak (the carne in the jugo, natch) were charred before placement in the soup, lending not only more depth of flavor, but also texture as well as attractiveness -- gray steak is practically worthless. Large bits of bacon lent a salty, smoky flavor and those charred knob onions, mentioned above, provide light sweetness that contrasted with the richness of the carne.

    Image

    Image
    Garnish plate for CESJ

    Image
    Generous tub of pickled vegetables for the table

    One in the group ordered the pozole:

    Image

    An attractive-looking bowl, but beware of large chunks of meat lurking underneath.

    I think the one complaint that some had (including me) was that the bowls of soup weren't served hot enough. Nevertheless, it's hard to conjure up a more comforting food on a cold winter's day.

    Bir. de la Torre's location at 67th & Pulaski may seem like a trek, but isn't, actually, as traffic moves well down these parts. Anyway, I concur with PIGMON that, if you're in for a bowl of CESJ only once in awhile, then you might as well make it a good one -- and a more than good one is to be had here. (Trust me, folks, the trip is sweetened by a pit stop to look at Big Chief @ 63rd and Pulaski. Just make sure you eye Big Chief from in front of Bud's Flowers, across the street on 63rd.)
  • Post #21 - December 8th, 2009, 4:24 pm
    Post #21 - December 8th, 2009, 4:24 pm Post #21 - December 8th, 2009, 4:24 pm
    The CESJ at De La Torre is easily one of the best things I've eaten lately. My first look at it made me understand fully why PIGMON finds the current state of CESJ at Los Gallos so offensive. (The Los Gallos CESJ didn't appeal to me at all, but now I agree that what they're doing is criminal.) I too wish that the CESJ at De La Torre had been served significantly hotter, but temperature didn't stop me from enjoying immensely the complex broth, cuts of steak, charred onions, chiles de arbol (why were those so fantastic on this visit?) and also the tortillas. It's one bowl of wonderfulness. I can't wait for someone to drive me back. :wink:
  • Post #22 - December 8th, 2009, 6:45 pm
    Post #22 - December 8th, 2009, 6:45 pm Post #22 - December 8th, 2009, 6:45 pm
    aschie30 wrote:(Trust me, folks, the trip is sweetened by a pit stop to look at Big Chief @ 63rd and Pulaski. Just make sure you eye Big Chief from in front of Bud's Flowers, across the street on 63rd.)

    Big Chief is quite an eye opener!

    Click here for Big Chief from a slightly different viewing angle. :)

    Big Chief

    Image
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #23 - December 9th, 2009, 11:39 am
    Post #23 - December 9th, 2009, 11:39 am Post #23 - December 9th, 2009, 11:39 am
    Erik M. wrote:
    Rene G wrote:I love the roasted knob onion floating in there, never saw that anywhere else.


    I was pleasantly surprised to find the grilled knob onions, too. My go-to establishment for CeSJ is El Taco Veloz on Chicago Ave., and over the years I have taken to ordering a plate of cebollitas asadas and CeSJ, then combining the two. I thought that it was just me. ;)

    E.M.

    There's usually an onion knob in the CesJ at Los Gallos (26th St.).

    I was at 69th/Pulaski Sunday. Now I'm going to have to go back. For a few weeks, Chicago Lawn may become one of the hubs of my existence.
  • Post #24 - December 13th, 2009, 4:25 pm
    Post #24 - December 13th, 2009, 4:25 pm Post #24 - December 13th, 2009, 4:25 pm
    Fifille and I had the CesJ here for lunch. We were both very pleased with the soup. The tortillas were also excellent, homemade and steaming. I just wish there was CesJ this good closer to home, 50 miles is quite a trek for a bowl of admittedly excellent soup.
    I used to think the brain was the most important part of the body. Then I realized who was telling me that.

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