The stretch of Diversey from Sacramento to California has seen a renaissance of quality cuisine over the past few months with first, Masa Azul, then Fat Rice and now L’Patron (2815 W. Diversey Ave.). The family run establishments resides in a lime green building that has had its share of hot dog and burgers joints in recent years.
It’s hard to miss the building as you drive by, and it’s easy to disregard it as it sits in a “cursed” location that never seems to succeed across from the always hoppin’ IHOP and Popeye’s Chicken. L’Patron unlike it’s predecessors, has a recipe for success. Ernesto Gonzalez, who helms the grill and the entire kitchen for that matter, is a Topolobambo alum and claims to still serve the same hot sauces and salsa from the Bayliss empire in his small joint in Logan Square.
The menu is straight forward and has something for everyone. Tacos, tortas and burritos are the focus. Their al pastor, a slow marinated pork, is the house specialty. Served with onions, cilantro and a bit of pineapple, whether you enjoy the taco, torta or grilled burrito, you will be a happy camper. The pork is rich and well seasoned. Large cubes are cooked well and piled high on the light torta bread or locally made tortillas.
I opted for the torta which was built atop an excellent quality and char grilled torta loaf that held up to all the juices just fine. The pork juice in which it was simmered coated the bottom piece of bread – their version of a dunked Italian Beef. The toppings were fresh and the sandwich was smoky, meaty, creamy and full of rustic spice driven flavor.
Jill ordered the carne asada burrito. No rice or refried beans in this thankfully NOT overstuffed favorite. Char grilled and ample cuts of beef are rolled into an equally char grilled tortilla with shredded lettuce, tomato, fresh avocado and maybe some cheese. It was nice to have a burrito you can actually get your mouth around – no comments. The beef was the feature as it should be and none of the other toppings covered its rich smoky flavor.
The fish taco was excellent as well. A lightly fried filet of fish is accompanied by a zesty and tangy cabbage slaw and a light aioli. The fish is light and flaky, the fry isn’t too thick and the cabbage and sauce bring the flavors together making the price tag just right. In fact, all tacos (except for the fish variety) are just $2.00!
Jill and I often order tongue – yup, one of the more underrated protein options at taco joints. They slow cook theirs and remove all the skin. Similar to the pork, the pieces are large and you can appreciate how tender the meat itself is. Mild in flavor, I’d recommend EVERYONE try a lengua taco next time the opportunity arises.
Oh, and be sure to ask for some of their unique home made giardinara. The veg in their version isn’t chopped but sliced and it just tastes so good on its own or in your taco. A winner in any language.
Yelp reviewers absolutely LOVE L’Patron (4.5 stars with over 60 reviews) and I can see why. Some even say it rivals the wares at Big Star and for at least a dollar less a piece. I wouldn’t necessarily say they are wrong.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat!