Dona Naty's Taco: Round 2 Review

#12. Dona Naty's Taco
1813 W. Chicago
Torta de Milanesa
$3.49 (no extras)

Defeated #5 Taqueria Super Burrito in Round 1 [review]
Defeated #12b Carniceria Leon in Eat-in Match [review]

On its best days, Dona Naty's Taco can remind me of De Pasada. Both restaurants take their time, and put some extra care and forethought into how their food is prepared. In Dona Naty's case, that meant the spicy ground chicken mixture that made an extraordinary meal out of an ordinary chicken burrito, and the grilled onions that provided a little extra flair to its tacos al Pastor. It's those little things that had made Dona Naty's the lowest remaining seed to survive in the bracket. Unfortunately, this was not one of Dona Naty's best days.

The Food:
In a word? Meh. There were no signs of Dona Naty's subtle knack for innovation in this torta. In fact, it was one of the most ordinary dishes that we've tried so far. In contrast to De Pasada, which cut its steak into individual slices and breaded each one individually, Dona Naty's reverted to the standard route of providing one big "wafer" of meat. Although the breading was reasonably good, the meat was smashed so thin that you could barely even taste the animal product. Likewise, the toppings were a little lackluster. Whereas De Pasada's torta featured fresh guacamole, Naty's had ordinary avocado. And for some reason, the combination of the avocado plus the grated cheese, both of which were at refrigerator temperature, made the torta a little cold; the idea of the hot staying hot and the cool staying cool has been a dicey proposition ever since the McDLT was launched.

The Experience: Speaking of which, Dona Naty's service can run hot-and-cold. If you'll recall from Dona Naty's eat-in match two months ago, we encountered a waitress who was a little anglophobic. Maybe that's too strong a term, but considering that she didn't even try to take my order, instead having the counter guy do her dirty work for her, I don't know how else to characterize it. That pattern completely reversed itself in our Round 1 visit, when we had a pleasant, English-speaking waitress that made us feel right at home. This time around? Back to Mrs. No Habla Ingl├ęs, and her running point with the counter guy to have him take my order. To make clear: I'm not even asking for the courtesy of a waitress who tries to speak English. Rather, I'm asking for the courtesy of a waitress who lets me try and speak Spanish. If I'm completely embarrassing myself, then you can call the counter guy over to serve as an interpreter. Again, all of this was in stark contrast to De Pasada, which has perhaps the most welcoming service of any taqueria in Chicago.

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