A street food mission to the South Side will inevitably become a quick substitute to Old Mexico.
I was warned there’d be a line at least a few cars deep at the Taqueria Buenavista truck, parked just south of the Bay View intersection of Chase and Oklahoma. Often squad cars. But it was plain old sedans and SUVs. Their occupants stood a few feet from the truck window, tapping their feet and staring out at traffic while waiting for their orders.
The menu is painted on the side of the truck: tacos $1.50, burritos $5, tortas $5, tostadas $2.50, quesadilla $5. When an order is up, a woman opens the side window and holds a plastic bag into space. When it’s my turn to grab my order, I grip the warm bag and fold it tightly until I’m on solid eating ground. This is street food of the muy-est bueno. Double corn tortillas support a simple but swell filling of meat (go for steak or pork), lettuce, tomato, fresh lime and lots of cilantro. Tripe or tongue (a bit chewy but flavorful) are meat options, too.
The other object in my bag, wrapped neatly in foil, is a torta – a Mexican sandwich on a soft bolillo bun. This is a five-buck revelation of toasted bun and thick, creamy filling of meat (say, chicken), mashed beans, avocado, lettuce, tomato and sour cream.
Make this Mexican street-food excursion even better by cruising a little further north to Lincoln Avenue. Head west five or so blocks from St. Josaphat Basilica and keep your eyes peeled for a vendor pushing a little cart advertising “corn.” This very route leads me to Diego, who offers up his elote (Mexican corn, $4) by cutting the steaming kernels off a bright-yellow cob, letting them fall into a Styrofoam container. He finishes off the corn with a glob of mayo, some butter, grated queso and chile powder. Repeat these steps as often as you can this summer.