#10. Picante Taqueria
2016½ W. Division
Al Pastor Burrito
$4.95 (no extras)
Defeated #7 Chipotle in Round 1 [review]
All right, let's be perfectly honest here. There was pretty much no way that Picante Taqueria was going to defeat El Taco Veloz. Not after Veloz's spectacular showing earlier in the week, and not when Picante is such a bare-bones operation that they don't even have a seating area. Mathematically, this would have to be just about the best burrito I'd ever eaten for Picante to make up the points it's losing in the service and experience categories. So, Picante was a little bit of a lame duck heading into yesterday's visit. That doesn't mean that it's without its redeeming facets, however.
The Food: The way that I'd describe the food at Picante is "surprisingly good". Not great, but surprisingly good. All of their ingredients are of a fairly high quality (although the pork was sliced up thinner than in needed to be), and this burrito was proportionate and fresh-tasting. Their salsa is underrated, and their tortillas are above-average. Their pork al Pastor is a little toward the spicier side rather than the sweet side, but it's a pretty good blend, and as at Veloz the Pastor was accentuated by grilled onions.
One mild complaint: their burrito is a little sloppy, by which I mean that it isn't wrapped all that tightly and so the ingredients tend to slip out. This problem is a bit more acute because Picante is exclusively a take-out joint, and so if you decided to walk your burrito north a couple of blocks and eat it in Wicker Park, you'd inevitably wind up spilling some on yourself (those al Pastor stains are notoriously difficult to wash out!).
The Experience: There isn't any: Picante has no indoor seating area, and their outdoor seating area is closed for the season. The service experience, such as it is, is mixed. The turnaround time on my burrito was considerably quicker than on past visits. On the other hand, Picante gets a deduction because I asked for both hot and mild salsas and my take-out bag wound up containing only the hot.
#10. Picante Taqueria
Posted by Nate Silver at 5:26 PM