If you come across a fairy who grants wishes, or an affordable parking garage downtown, you might be tempted to keep it to yourself. After all, you don’t know how long that fairy will stick around, and there aren’t an infinite number of spaces in that garage. But hoarding valuable information about wonderful things is selfish and wrong. So that’s why we’re telling you about the food at Huaraches Dona Chio in Edgewater.
This is a very small, very casual, cash-only Mexican restaurant. There are only about six tables, and they’re not very big. So you might not want to come here with 12 friends and their three huge baby strollers - unless the plan is for all of them to wait outside and help you carry leftovers. But you should definitely come with an appetite, since you’re going to want to eat everything.
At first, the menu might seem limited - with mainly huaraches, tacos, enchiladas, and other things that revolve around the excellent masa that’s made in-house. But eventually you’ll realize that the topping possibilities here are basically endless. They range from carne asada to pastor to chorizo to calf brains to poblano to flor de calabaza (just to name a few), they’re all excellent, and you can combine them however you want.
The house specialty - huaraches - are made with perfectly fried fresh masa, and lightly filled with just enough pinto beans. You pick red or green salsa (or both), then up to three toppings. The huaraches are large, but don’t let that stop you from also getting a taco or sope, too. And while you’re at it, add an order of the enchiladas with mole. They’re some of the best in all of Chicago, and after eating them you’ll feel a moral obligation to tell strangers about them on the train.
Dona Chio is not a place that’s big on atmosphere. But you’ll be so busy trying to eat as much as possible that you’re not going to be thinking about that. Plus, in the summertime they have a tiny patio next to a park, and on a nice day you’ll be surrounded by enough trees, grass, and various other green things to make you forget you’re in the middle of the city. In fact, if you ever do find a wish-granting fairy, you’ll probably just end up selfishly asking for more opportunities to eat here.
We’re not going to bring up chips and salsa unless they matter, and at Dona Chio they matter very much. The chips are freshly fried, crispy, and absolutely perfect. Make sure you get some.
These are the best huaraches we’ve eaten in Chicago. You can’t go wrong with any of the toppings, but we like the spicy pastor with a combination of red and green salsa.
If you have commitment issues, get your huarache with two toppings, which are divided in half, not all mixed up. We like the contrast between the crispy carne asada and the slightly sweet poblano peppers.
These are a must-order - because of the fantastic mole, which we’ve been told multiple times by servers is made in Mexico by the owner’s grandmother, and shipped in batches to Dona Chio. We prefer this dish topped with shredded chicken (rather than steak), and the rice and beans it comes with are very good, too.
The tacos are also great. Which shouldn’t come as a shock, because this place knows how to make a good tortilla, then stuff it with something delicious.
The sopes are smaller than the huaraches (and don’t have the bean filling), so they make a good option if you’re not as hungry, or want to try more things. We like them with the tinga, but honestly we’d eat them plain because the masa is so f*cking good.