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'Corn Smut' Quesadillas Offered at New Authentaco in East Village

By Alisa Hauser | August 18, 2014 9:23am
 Authentaco is now open in the former La Pasadita on the east side of Ashland at 1141 N. Ashland Ave. 
Authentaco Opens in Old Hamburger Joint, August 2014
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EAST VILLAGE — Authentaco, a new taqueria from the owner of Division Street's Picante, opened last week in a vintage hamburger stand on Ashland Avenue, offering pork rind and beef tongue tacos as well as as huitlacoche, or corn smut quesadillas. 

Just south of Division Street at 1141 N. Ashland Ave., Authentaco is decorated with colorful murals inside and on the exterior back and side walls. The front of the restaurant sports a gleaming white terra cotta facade dating back to when Snappy Service System sold 5-cent hamburgers in the 1930s.

The joint's "hamburger history" was uncovered last March, when bright yellow paint that had covered the exterior since 1976 was removed during a renovation of the 420 square-foot space. 

For nearly 35 years, the stand had served as the original La Pasadita, a taco hut that closed last January but has two other locations across the street.

True to its name, Authentaco's authentic Mexican menu ingredients include house-made tortillas, specialty aqua frescas beverages, elotes (corn) and huitlacoche, or "corn smut," a fungus which is a delicacy in Mexico and adds a smoky mushroom-like flavor.

On Sunday, Authentaco worker Johana Stead was wearing a a T-shirt that said in Spanish "yummy pork rinds" while her co-worker Edith Ramon's shirt said "fresh pork rinds."

The taqueria's menu is painted on a board above the counter and titled, "Choose your Antojo," or whim.

The menu offers tacos, tostadas, quesadillas and platillos or plates.

Meat or protein choices that can be added to any of the above dishes include pork, cow tongue, chicken, chicharrones or pork rinds and steamed beef. 

Vegetarian options include rajas con queso (sliced poblanos with melted Chihuahua cheese), nopales or cactus and seasonal veggies.

Sides dishes are bean salad, green salad and frijoles, or black beans, as well as elotes, corn made with butter, cheese, chili powder, mayonnaise and lime.

Authentaco's quesadillas are available in plain, flour or huitlacoche varieties, the latter referring to protein-rich corn smut.

On a visit late Sunday just after Authentaco closed for the weekend, manager Carlos Ramirez said, "It's going well so far, and people are enjoying the back patio," which seats about 30 people.

Currently Authentaco, which quietly opened on Wednesday as part of a "soft opening," has brought eight jobs to the area and is BYOB, though Ramirez said owner Felipe Caro is planning to apply for a liquor license.

In addition to Picante Taqueria, which opened 12 years ago at 2016½ W. Division, Caro also owns Delish Diner, which closed a few week ago and is undergoing renovations, according to a sign in the window of the funeral home-turned-deli.

Authentaco, 1141 N. Ashland Ave.  Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p..m. Sunday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Wed; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thurs-Sun.  Cash only.  Phone: 773-360-7345.

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