Holy cherry-pecan mole, Batman!
There is no shortage of taquerias in Chicago. Of course, some are better than others. Everyone who enjoys a taco has their favorite spot. My favorite new taqueria is El Hefe Supermacho Taqueria (El Hefe). El Hefe has been open a year or so now. Surprisingly, I had not made my way there until this Wednesday when my craving for Mexican food hit hard. This place has been very busy whenever I walk by it. Recently, El Hefe was featured on The Travel Channel’s “Chow Masters” show, so it has been on my radar. With my belly empty and ready to be “wowed,” I jumped the CTA Red line to Chicago’s River North neighborhood to see what all the fuss about.
El Hefe is located at 15 W. Hubbard St., just 2 blocks south of the Grand ‘L” stop on the CTA Red Line.
First, I would like to note that El Hefe has a very colorful, fun and interesting decor, a la “Dia de Los Muertos.” This is not an average taco joint. El Hefe is a place you want to come to party!!!
The Travel Channel’s “Chow Masters” episode featured the crazy Hefe Dog which is a kobe beef hot dog wrapped in mesquite bacon and topped with chipotle mayo, beans and tomatillo-avocado salsa. I will be saving this one for a week when I hit the gym a full 7 days in a row (HA!)
Here is how my lunch went down:
I was very excited to see duck options on El Hefe’s menu. So I ordered 1 duck carnitas taco and I was so happy I did. This is one flavorful taco. The duck was well seasoned and juicy. It was made with a cherry-pecan mole (I know!) which was such an interesting complement to the duck. The taco was topped with tomatillo-avocado salsa and pickled fresno chili. This little taco packed a big, flavor punch and El Hefe was not at all stingy with the the ingredients 😉
Next, I tried the chicken tortilla soup. Those who know me are well aware that soup is my favorite food. El Hefe’s soup was spectacular! Again, I was treated to an extremely generous bowl of soup for the price point. It was a huge, deep bowl filled with lots of shredded chicken, tortilla strips, roasted corn, beans, large cubes of creamy avocado, lime crema and queso fresco. NOTE 1: This chicken tortilla soup is made-to-order. It’s freshness was extremely evident. NOTE 2: El Hefe understands that soup should be HOT from the very first sip to the very last slurp. There was nothing lukewarm about it. Muchas Gracias, El Hefe. Me gusta esta sopa!
I washed it all down with a local Chicago GREEN LINE draft beer. Perfecto!
I had no room for dessert after my taco, soup and beer but I will be back for the churros which are served with a horchata milkshake 🙂
You may be wondering what else makes El Hefe Supermacho Taqueria “a stand-out” among other taquerias and most other Chicago bar-type restaurants. Can you say “Shot Bar” and “Table Tap Service?” I have never seen those options anywhere before my visit to El Hefe.
The Shot Bar or Chupiteria is set toward the back of the restaurant. Patrons can choose from a long list of funny and bawdy named shot options which are written on a large chalkboard.
Table Tap Service is available at 7 booths at El Hefe. Patrons control their own pours of beer and liquor which they pay for by the ounce. There are 4 different taps at each of these special tables. This “pay-as-you-pour” option allows customers to be careful with their wallets by watching the LCD monitor on the table. Also, it gives the bartenders some relief on busy nights which I understand is just about every night here. Thus, patrons are guaranteed a cold pour without having to belly up to the bar and wait. Nice!
Another cool feature at El Hefe are the 2 large communal dining tables. One is set up front at the window looking out onto bustling Hubbard Street. The other is located toward to back of the restaurant. I love communal dining tables. They are a great way for solo diners who may be self-conscious to have a fun and interactive dining experience while meeting new people who may turn out to be new friends.
I admire El Hefe’s menu so much. It is both tasty and a great value which is rare these days. I cannot wait to work my way through their other tacos, salads, desserts and more.
El Hefe Supermacho Taqueria is open 7 days a week. They serve a brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-3pm.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Red line to El Hefe Supermacho Taqueria in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Save gas money. Avoid traffic and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!
Looking for other cool taco joints in Chicago? Check out Velvet Taco in The Gold Coast, Antique Taco in Wicker Park and Belly Shack in Humboldt Park.