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La Placita de Durango

La Placita de Durango
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  • La Placita de Durango

    Post #1 - April 16th, 2011, 10:17 am
    Post #1 - April 16th, 2011, 10:17 am Post #1 - April 16th, 2011, 10:17 am
    La Placita de Durango
    A Norteño Gem on the South Side
    Part One

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    The vast majority of Mexican and Mexicanoid eateries in Chicago offer up a fairly straightforward set of standard dishes, under standard names, with a strong stylistic inclination to the complication that delights the mainstream American palate -- the culinary mindset that has spawned the garbage-pizza, the kitchen-sink stir-fry, the meat-n-veggie 'marinara' sauce and, last but not least, the proverbial burrito estilo 'tan-grande-como-tu-cabeza'. As has been noted here on LTH and elsewhere in the national food-media, one of the great strengths of the Mexican culinary scene in this city is, however, that we have a range of places which, though relatively very few in number, offer up fine representatives of authentic, regional cuisines of Mexico: among my absolute favourites are Casa de Samuel (Guerrerense), Xni-pec (Yucateco), and La Placita de Durango, which offers classic and simple Duranguense dishes. Amata, Lucantonius and I have been going to La Placita for about three years now, since just shortly after they opened; it first came to our attention thanks to a heads-up from the inimitable RST and since has become one of our very favourite places in the city.

    A well-made Gringo-style burrito can be very tasty indeed but, for me, given my own culinary aesthetics and cultural beliefs (and prejudices), I find the more sober style of burrito in traditional norteño cookery infinitely more satisfying. In my humble estimation, La Placita serves up the best burritos in Chicago and the best -- and perhaps only? -- gorditas de harina. Their gorditas made from corn-masa are no less delicious.
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    Here is the menu -- limited but nicely focussed on regional dishes that one seldom sees elsewhere...
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    Note too that La Placita is also an ice cream shop...
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    ...and from the outside, one might take it for that and miss the fact that they offer much more...
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    As mentioned just above, the wheat-flour 'breads' are absolutely outstanding...
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    Here are two burritos and a gordita:
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    One of the fillings we love is of requeson y rajas:
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    Another view:
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    A variation on the dairy-and-pepper theme is with cuajada (a form of queso fresco):
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    One can buy a whole cuajada as well:
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    My absolute favourite filling is, however, the somewhat uncommon in these parts chicharron prensado, about which I will post separately elsewhere:
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    Also available is the Duranguense specialty asado de puerco:
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    Another view:
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    Another typically Norteño filling is the shredded, stewed beef with potatoes:
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    On one of our visits, Lucantonius opted for the fried taquitos with the shredded beef filling:
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    Provided at table are two outstanding salsas:
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    In this first post on La Placita I've focussed just on the 'taco'-dishes, all of which are made with great care and fine ingredients, all served up by the friendly and charming Margarita Peña:
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    Without doubt, La Placita is one of the most interesting and one of the best small Mexican eateries in Chicagoland and, for my money, stands without competition as the place which makes the very best burritos.
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    Bon pro',
    Antonius

    La Placita de Durango
    5141 South Kedzie Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60632
    tel: 773.434.3711
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #2 - April 16th, 2011, 10:40 am
    Post #2 - April 16th, 2011, 10:40 am Post #2 - April 16th, 2011, 10:40 am
    Thanks, Tony, for the insightful and informative post. La Placita de Durango is now very high on my 'must-try' list.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #3 - April 16th, 2011, 11:04 am
    Post #3 - April 16th, 2011, 11:04 am Post #3 - April 16th, 2011, 11:04 am
    Can we make Antonius a GNR? Wonderful post, I can't wait to try it, I was driving around there just last week.
    For what we choose is what we are. He should not miss this second opportunity to re-create himself with food. Jim Crace "The Devil's Larder"
  • Post #4 - April 18th, 2011, 10:27 am
    Post #4 - April 18th, 2011, 10:27 am Post #4 - April 18th, 2011, 10:27 am
    Terrific, Tony. The flour gorditas look delicious and unique. Add to that menu entries noting 2 kinds of picadillo, 2 versions of shredded beef, and sincronizadas (a Norteno favorite of the JeffB clan), and I have to get down there soon.
  • Post #5 - April 18th, 2011, 11:26 am
    Post #5 - April 18th, 2011, 11:26 am Post #5 - April 18th, 2011, 11:26 am
    Next time I fly into Chicago I'll make sure to go through Midway, just so I can stop by this place. Fantabulous post.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #6 - April 18th, 2011, 7:06 pm
    Post #6 - April 18th, 2011, 7:06 pm Post #6 - April 18th, 2011, 7:06 pm
    I was fortunate enough to have been in Chicago to enjoy these Duranguense delights with the estimable OP. Having lived in Central Texas, much of the Tejano cooking there is Norteño in style generally speaking, though the region of Durango is under-represented, at least in my (albeit probably limited) experience, and so it's with great interest that I hope to learn more from Tony and others here. The breads, both gorditas and burritos, were highly evocative of my mom's handmade rotis/chapatis - I forgive her for her omission of chicharron prensado at the family table. Having plowed our way through just about every gordita/burrito filling, I can say that they are mostly all top-notch, from the soulful guisados to the smokey pasados, though like Antonius, I found the chicharron prensado to be a highlight.

    JeffB wrote:...and sincronizadas (a Norteno favorite of the JeffB clan), and I have to get down there soon.


    sincronisadas
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  • Post #7 - April 19th, 2011, 10:26 am
    Post #7 - April 19th, 2011, 10:26 am Post #7 - April 19th, 2011, 10:26 am
    Many thanks for all the kind words from those who have responded!

    It was great to have a chance to 'break burritos' for the first time with tatterdemalion/Nab at PdD this past weekend, as well as to catch up a bit with a couple of old friends and longtime LTH comrades at the same time. It was well worth the extra time earned in purgatory for my premature Lenten-fast-breaking! :oops: :wink:

    JeffB: I hadn't had the sincronizadas at PdD before and they were very tasty - hard to miss with something simple like that, given the quality of their tortillas de harina...

    mbh: If you nominate me, am I allowed to second the nomination? :D 8)

    Amata and I will be posting on some of the other offerings at Placita de Durango soon...

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #8 - June 13th, 2011, 7:46 pm
    Post #8 - June 13th, 2011, 7:46 pm Post #8 - June 13th, 2011, 7:46 pm
    Finally made it into La Placita over the weekend and really enjoyed it. Rene G had mentioned to me that they were soon to move, so I made it a priority to get over there before it happened. There were only 2 of us and we stuck pretty close to the ordering posted above, which, no surprise, turned out to be a fine plan . . .

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    La Placita de Durango - 5141 S Kedzie


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    Salsas
    Both were great and the one in front had an almost pickled note to it but a language barrier prevented us from getting additional information about them.


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    Tortilla Chips
    Piping hot right out the fryer, crispy and a bit chewy too. These were delectable.


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    Gorditas Estilo Durango
    We ordered 3 to share. Our favorite was the Carne Deshebrada (rear), which was recommended by our server. I'm pretty sure it's the one described above by Antonius and it's filled with tender, shredded beef and potatoes. We also tried the Asado de Puerco (center) and the Requeson con Rajas (front). I wasn't thrilled with the latter. The cheese was a bit grainy and in spite of the rajas, the gordita as a whole was a bit sweet for my palate.


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    Gordita de Asado de Puerco
    Very flavorful, even if a bit chewy. We asked about the marinade and I couldn't tell from the answer we received if the women working at the time didn't know what it was or if it is a secret. :) In any case, we never found out what it actually was.


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    Sincronizada
    After seeing a pic of this posted above, we had to try it. It was delicious and I wished I'd ordered it with a huevo or 2, as that would have matched up perfectly with the ham.


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    Moving
    As mentioned above, La Placita is moving soon. Our server gave us this card and told us it would happen in a month or 2.

    I'm so glad I finally got to try La Placita de Durango. It really scratched the itch and satisfied immensely. Our bill came to around $17 with tip, which made it an unbelievably exceptional value. I'm rarely on the south side these days but we were coming back from Indiana and La Placita was at the very top of our list of places to hit. I look forward to 'returning' after their move to see what's changed.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #9 - June 24th, 2011, 7:40 am
    Post #9 - June 24th, 2011, 7:40 am Post #9 - June 24th, 2011, 7:40 am
    Brought my wife here yesterday. Wife's from Guerrero and doesn't really appreciate the food of the north, but she really liked this place. The asado de puerco is wonderful, and the deshebrada burritos are wonderful.
  • Post #10 - June 25th, 2011, 7:49 am
    Post #10 - June 25th, 2011, 7:49 am Post #10 - June 25th, 2011, 7:49 am
    It’s great to see people visiting La Placita de Durango! I’ve been meaning for some time to add a couple notes about their desserts and drinks.

    1. La Placita started out as an ice cream place called “Cafe-Chocolate Ice Cream” and it still has ice cream (Edy’s). But, like many Mexican ice cream shops, La Placita also offers more interesting items, such as chamoyadas in the summertime. A chamoyada is made with shaved ice, some kind of fruit such as mango, combined with sweet/sour/salty chamoy sauce and chile. (For chamoy, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamoy ) When we were there in April with tatterdemalion, Rene G, and PIGMON, the chamoyadas were not available – it was too cold. But here’s a picture from last summer:

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    (I notice that La Chaparrita also advertises chamoyadas, but I haven’t tried them there.)

    2. Occasionally small bags of empanadas borrachas are offered for sale up by the cash register. These are sweet empanadas, the dough of which is made with beer: hence the ‘borracha’ name. They’re filled with a bit of cajeta, pineapple jam, or strawberry jam – and they’re fabulous. Don’t pass them up if they’re available. Here are a couple pictures from different times when we've brought some home:

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    You can see the interior of a cajeta one here:
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    3. What to drink with your Duranguense burritos and gorditas? Lucantonius likes to get a chocolate milkshake:

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    I’m more likely to order one of their excellent aguas frescas, such as cantaloupe, or a licuado. Here’s a picture of a piña colada licuado:

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    We are really looking forward to their new, more spacious location – as soon as the move is complete we will definitely update this thread with the news!

    [thanks to Antonius for the photos! :) ]
  • Post #11 - January 17th, 2012, 11:05 pm
    Post #11 - January 17th, 2012, 11:05 pm Post #11 - January 17th, 2012, 11:05 pm
    I am happy to report that they have reopened. I had dinner there this past saturaday and it was as good as I can remember. I ordered one burrito deshebrada and two gorditas, one rajas con requeson and one of chicken tinga with an aqua de pina. All delicious. The new space is very nice with vibrant lights and paint job. Very warm and inviting. They also have a parking lot. This Saturday they will have their grand opening party complete with mariachi.

    2423 51st St
    Chicago, IL 60632
    773.434.3711
  • Post #12 - April 21st, 2013, 8:28 am
    Post #12 - April 21st, 2013, 8:28 am Post #12 - April 21st, 2013, 8:28 am
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    One of the more interesting food finds I’ve come across this past year is to be found at Placita de Durango. Caldillo de Carne Seca is a Northern Mexican soup typically made with carne seca (Mexican-style shredded or “deshebrada” beef jerky), potatoes, onion, green pepper, chiles, tomato, and garlic. I believe other iterations of this soup can also be found elsewhere in other Latin America countries such as Peru and Brazil. I have certainly never come across this soup before in Chicago, which isn’t surprising since the vast majority of Mexicans here originate from Central Mexican (Jalisco, Guerrero, Michoacan) and not the Northern Mexican States such as Nuevo Leon, Senora, or Chihuahua where this dish is typically found. I noticed that Dominic (Dmnkly) inquired on phxfoodnerds.com whether anybody has ever come across it in Phoenix but has yet to get a reply.

    As Mike Sula accurately described, the soup imparts a slight funkiness from the carne seca, giving it a profile I’ve not found in any other soup. It may be considered by some to be almost diabolically salty but Caldillo de Carne Seca is still well worth going out of your way for if you have a high threshold for salt.

    If the Caldillo de Carne Seca doesn’t work out, you can always fall back on their sensational homemade quesadillas made with chicharron prensado.

    I always loved this place but I think they’re making better food today at their new location than ever before. Placia de Durango has rapidly become one of my favorite South Side eating destinations and also appears to be highly appreciated by the many locals. If you’re looking for a different type of Mexican dining experience (ie. Northern), it might is well worth a trip.

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