Chicago: Birrieria Zaragoza
We stopped off at Sawada Coffee so that AG could try their military latte and then went on the hunt for a Garrett so that I could buy some Chicago mix back for my parents. We were successful with the coffee, but not so much with the popcorn. The closest Garrett we found was down to its last bit of popcorn and the next batch wouldn't be ready for 15 minutes. Given that AG was circling the block, we couldn't wait. No big deal. I ended up just buying a bag at the airport. (The line at Garrett in the airport actually took longer than the line for TSA. People sure do love their Garrett.)
We eventually ran out of reasons to stall and headed over to the next restaurant on CK's list:
According to CK's research, Birrieria Zaragoza is supposed to have some of the best birria in Chicago. Anyone who knows me knows that I love birria (even if I suck at pronouncing it), so I was very much motivated to eat through the pain.
The interior of Zaragoza was pretty small. You place your order at the counter and then sit down to wait at an available table:
CK wanted to try their Jamaica agua fresca ($2):
Personally, I would have preferred horchata. Hibiscus just doesn't really do it for me.
We were brought the standard accompaniments:
And we added on an order of the salsa de molcajete ($3.75) at the recommendation of the staff:
As well as a plain cheese quesadilla ($2.50) on top of the complimentary tortillas:
All of this to go with the star of the show:
The birria. We got a large plate ($13.75) to split between the three of us.
Never doubt the staff at Zaragoza. Tucking the birria into the cheese quesadilla, dousing it with that smoky, smoky salsa, and then topping it with onions, cilantro, and lime juice? Utter perfection. I may have wept tears of joy.
Honestly, despite my earlier protests of still being full, I could have eaten a plate by myself. It was that delicious. Definitely worth the pain.
My go-to birrieria in the Bay Area is El Potrillo in Oakland. Zaragoza's birria is less gamey than El Potrillo's. As I don't mind gamey, I'm not sure if I can pick a favorite between the two. Both are delicious and super affordable. Zaragoza does get extra points, however, for offering birria all day, every day instead of only on the weekend like El Potrillo does.
Ugh. Just thinking about birria is making me salivate. Better go wipe the drool off my keyboard...
4852 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60632