De Cero, A Modern Day Taqueria
Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
Address: 814 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607
Phone Number: (312) 455-8114
Price Range: $10-15 (without drinks)
Our Rating: 4.3 out of 5
What We Tried: Chips and Guac, Berries and Brie Taco, Carnitas de Arbol Taco, Portabello Mushroom Taco, Sautéed Shrimp Taco, Al Pastor Taco
Our Take: Now, just to preface, this dining experience was slightly different from our last a la carte taco experience at Big Star, as I was with my childhood friend and her mom, but it was just as delicious!
From the folks that brought you Grange Hall Burger Bar, De Cero is loosely translated to “from scratch,” and boy did these guys deliver on their promise! Literally everything is straight from scratch: crema, tortillas, lime juice, tortilla chips… you name it. We were amazed by how intricate and unique each of their 15(!) different kinds of tacos was – not to mention the starters, 6 different homemade salsas crafted daily, entrees, tamales, and 6 different kinds of rice and beans. Whew!
The chips and guac combo was fabulous. You could tell the chips were fresh out of the fryer, but they were still insanely crisp and not chewy like when they shove too many chips in the fryer at once (I’m just imagining that’s what happens).
We each tried one of the Berries and Brie tacos (one of the specials – because it wasn’t hard enough choosing between the existing 15 different tacos) and liked them pretty well. Be forewarned, though, definitely not a date taco. Unless date finds you trying to hold together a mountain of skirt steak, arugula, brie, and berries while shoving it in your mouth to be very attractive. Then by all means… Anyway, they were nice but would have greatly benefitted from less dijon.
Though neither the Portobello nor the Al Pastor were quite as good as Big Star‘s, in my opinion, I certainly left more than satisfied.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to indulge in one of their ridiculously fresh and inventive margaritas (the true test against Big Star), but you can sure we’ll be back for something like a Lime Ginger Margarita (made with freshly pureed fruits and house made lime sour).
This place has a great vibe and would work best for a happy hour or dinner out with the ladies, whereas Big Star best serves hipster clientele (and wannabees) looking for a bite before hitting the town and maybe a few (read: lot) of drinks to get them started.
Note: Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 am – 3 pm De Cero becomes ¡Hello Tacos!, a weekday lunch fiesta (“Same location, different attitude,” they say. Oooookay). This is generally confusing and pointless, but don’t let it stop you from going. They are the same, and they are delicious (though the tacos are $.25 cheaper at ¡Hello Tacos! SCORE)!
p.s. We promise to maybe leave the Meatpacking District some day. Maybe.