"I love street food, and this is the best that Chicago has," says Yescenia Mota, program coordinator of Chicago's city-run street and farmers' markets.
She's referring to a three-block stretch of Desplains St. in the South Loop. Each Sunday, it's overtaken by stands selling tacos, elotes and huaraches; tomatillos, nopales and dried chiles; all interspersed with tables of clothes, candy and bric-a-brac.
In its 101st year, Maxwell Street Market is as bustling as ever. And, unlike any other market in town, it's open outdoors, year-round. As the season for street fests and outdoor farmers' markets wanes, look to Maxwell Street: "You'll be amazed who shows up in December. It's 20 below and snowing and it's still packed," says Mota.
Hit her four favorite market stalls, leaving room for a fried-dough finale from the Xoco-Churro truck.
Al pastor and tacos at Rubi's
Rubi's: Overheard while waiting in an epic line for Rubi's Rick Bayless-approved tacos: "Vale la pena [it's worthwhile]. These tacos are the best." Mota gets carne asada or al pastor ($3 each).
Manolo's: Order headily spiced mole rojo with braised pork atop a huarache ($4.50), a long, wide corn tortilla pressed with black beans inside.
Manolo's mole rojo
Pupusas Mama Lula: Load Salvadoran pupusas (thick, stuffed maize tortilla, $2 each) with vinegary cabbage slaw and red chile sauce and dig in--forks optional.
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