Although the city is renowned for its deep dish pizza, it is also hailed in general as one of the top culinary destinations for travelers. It's no surprise to us who delight in the abundance of the city's diverse flavors. But in keeping with the theme of melted cheese wonders, we're taking a taste tour beyond tacos and guiding you across the city in search of the perfect quesadilla - Mexican grilled cheese.
Its crispy yet soft exterior of griddle cooked corn masa oozes and spills out long strands of melted Chihuahua or Oaxacan cheese. It's the melty base for aromatic guisados or a variety of fresh picked farmer's market vegetables. Oh, the melty goodness. So, please, don't settle for wimpy flour tortilla wanna-be pizza replicas. Be bold and visit any of the following locations for some authentic quesadilla deliciousness.
Los Corrales: Taqueria & Restaurante (Marshall Square)
2881 W. Cermak, 773-847-6998
This Marshall Boulevard staple, next door to the Apollo Theater, offers up huge D.F. style quesadillas, which means they're the size of your head. The masa for the tortilla isn't bland or salty, which usually impacts the other ingredients. They offer asada, pastor (guajillo and achiote marinated spit-roasted pork), carne desebrada (shredded beef) and chicken, to name a few, but the list is large. We suggest combining a couple of fillings to double the pleasure.
Fellow quesadería neighbor Las Quecas, in the heart of Little Village, offers up enormous sized quesadillas brimming with fragrant, homemade guisados. The bonus here is the ample list of non-meat options for vegetarians like flor de calabaza (squash blossoms), rajas (poblano pepper strips) and huitlacoche (corn truffle stew). If you like coffee, try the cafe de olla. It's divine.
This taco truck specializes in three main dishes and one of them happens to be quesadillas. The tortillas are made before you so it takes a little time to get your food but once you bite into the gooey concoctions you'll wish you had ordered more. Our favorites at this pop-up food stand are the spinach, the steak and the papas con chorizo (potatoes with mexican sausage).
This is a gem of a Mexican restaurant as it specializes in only vegetarian dishes. The menu's extensive list of non-meat options would fool anyone into thinking the quesadillas were made with meat but it's all soy-based. Try the traditional tinga (marinated chicken), chicharrón (pork rind) or bistec ranchero (steak stew). They're made - you guessed it - without any meat products. If you didn't know, you'd never know.
Tacos Villa (Chicago Lawn)
3139 W 63rd St, 773-737-5385
This tiny hole in the wall, mom-n-pop shop, is worth the trek south. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending where you're from, almost everything is fried which means you shouldn't come here too often but when you do, oh my fried goodness, go for the quesadillas. You have to keep it traditional here so fill it up with asada or shredded chicken and smother it in their tangy, spicy red and green salsas. It's so good. We also recommend the sopes, but that's another story for another day.
Written by Sandra Treviño