Velvet Taco Chicago
As soon as you set foot inside, you can tell that Velvet Taco is not your average taqueria. This Texas transplant in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago has some of the most creative tacos I’ve tried as well as some other creative and quirky features. Before getting in line to order I suggest stepping back to take your time looking over the eight sections of the menu: chicken, veggie, pork, beef, fish, egg, sides and cake. I highly suggest coming with someone you’re comfortable taco-sharing with you so you can try as many as possible. I was lucky enough that my sister is a pretty adventurous eater and will pretty much try anything.
We ended up getting the following tacos to try:
#2 Rotisserie chicken, white queso, roast corn pico, cilantro, smoked poblano salsa, corn tortilla
#3 Crisp tikka chicken, spicy pepper sauce, buttered cilantro basmati rice, raita crema, thai basil, flour tortilla
#9 Crisp pork belly, house pickles, pickled fresnos, grain mustard, tomato, red onion, poppy seed, celery salt, flour tortilla (inspired by the Chicago-style hot dog)
#11 Grilled flank steak, Portobello, white queso, grilled red onion, Mexican oregano, corn tortilla
#17 Ahi Poke, ginger-soy vinaigrette, avocado, seaweed salad, pickled fresnos, sesame seeds, Himalayan sea salt, micro greens, lettuce wrap
See the full menu here.
It’s pretty hard to pick a favorite but I really loved the crisp tikka chicken. It’s pretty unique as far as tacos flavors go; at first I wasn’t sure how the rice would taste in a tortilla but it went perfectly with the spicy red pepper sauce and cool raita crema. We also both loved the grilled flank steak with smoky Portobello and the crisp lightness of the ahi poke taco as well.
We also tried the two different sides:
- Rotisserie corn ‘elotes-style’, queso fresco, asadero cheese, Valentina, crema and lime
- Crisp tater tots and local egg, herbed goat cheese, smoked cheddar, avocado crema and bacon
I know that the tacos here are supposed to be the star of the show but both of the sides were absolutely amazing! I don’t know how they did it (I’m guessing a deep fryer), but the tots really held up well under the load of the egg, cheeses and crema. I highly suggest that you mix the whole mess together allowing the egg and cheese to coat the crispy tots.
I’m pretty sure I’ve never come across a version of elotes I didn’t like and Velvet Taco’s rotisserie corn was no exception. In fact, it may be one of the best I’ve ever had because of the great combination of crunchy corn and creamy filling. I learned that the reason the corn was so crunchy was because it’s shucked off the cob daily to ensure the greatest freshness.
Something I found really unique about Velvet Taco that you don’t see at your typical quick-service restaurant was that all the fountain drinks were local craft sodas, courtesy of Excel Bottling Company in Breese, IL. Brands I’d never heard of before such as Lucky Club, R-Pep, Ski, and Frostie were all delicious!
I had a chance to speak with the owners briefly after dining and could tell that they take a lot of pride in the food they serve at Velvet Taco. They spoke about using only the best ingredients and preparing as much as possible in-house; this included but wasn’t limited to the pickles along with breaking down whole pieces of sushi-grade tuna for the ahi poke tacos.
One thing I noticed at the counter when ordering was a huge rotisserie filled with chicken. In addition to selling tacos, Velvet Taco also has a $20 “back door” special where you can get a whole rotisserie chicken, 2 sides of elotes, six corn tortillas, roasted corn, pico de gallo, and heat sauce. That seems like a great value and could easily feed a family of four!
Overall I had a great experience at Velvet Taco and with such an extensive menu and friendly staff I can’t wait to come back and try more of their creative tacos. Of course no matter what you do, save room for the tots, and don’t forget to splurge on the craft soda.