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SAVOR Asadito
DISH Dining Guide
by Julia Hale

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"F**k Me, I'll Have Another," reads the electric blue neon sign that hangs on the white wall behind the bar at Asadito ( 30 N. Clinton St.; ), the new authentic yet modern taqueria and tequila bar in the West Loop. The sign is surrounded by white metal baskets filled with Jarritos soft drink, plastic fruit, cans of beans and coconut cream, Mexican Cokes and Topo Chico water. The wall to the left of the bar is filled with religious and cultural art and photos.

It's not your typical taqueria.

Asadito—"little roasted" in Spanish—is owned and operated by Barrel Aged Hospitality, the father-son duo that also runs Slightly Toasted and Little Toasted. ( The restaurant is right next door to Slightly Roasted. ) Tyler Mendoza, the "son" in "father-son," explained what makes the tacos at Asadito different from the "corporate" tacos you can find throughout Chicago.

He said, "Tortillas are made fresh to order, from masa sourced locally. We make it in-house every day." The restaurant gets its masa from Pilsen. "We use actual trompos [vertical rotisseries] for the pastor, which means that all the meat, all the proteins including the mushrooms, take at least four days [to cook]. We make everything, literally everything, from scratch—and a lot of it takes time."

Mendoza led our meal, starting us with elote ( roasted corn, lime aioli, guajillo chili, queso and cilantro ), pozole ( a Mexican pork and hominy soup ) and guacamole with tortilla chips. Shortly after, we were served six tacos, of which I ate three: the chicken tinga, the al pastor and the mushroom. The al pastor was my favorite, featuring pork shoulder and pineapple. The mushroom was a close second; the sole vegetarian taco option tasted like I had bit right into a vegetable garden. Following the tacos, we were served churro bites, with spiced chocolate and caramel dipping sauces. I have to say that the uber-sugary churros were my favorite part of the meal.

With 85 agave-based spirits, Asadito offers guests more than 2,000 margarita options. After trying its roasted pineapple margarita, I can understand why the sign behind the bar is there. In addition to vast margarita options, Asadito also offers cocktails, including the Hyper Snyper, which has espresso and milk; and the Buddah Monk, with green chili vodka and aloe liquor. The beer list features Mexican and American lagers, in addition to categories like "Boozy Soda," "Sours," "Apples," "Hops" and "Dessert Beer," with two beers on tap.

According to Mendoza, Asadito will be adding one or two more mainstays to the menu as well as a rotating meal of the month. "We are 85-percent authentic Mexican," he said. "There are techniques that we use that are more fine dining, [but] the flavors are all as traditional as [possible]. This isn't Tex-Mex," he said. "It's a real taco."

Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.

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