Since I’m from California, I didn’t seriously consider having Mexican food in Chicago, but Cemitas Puebla was No. 1 on Chicago Yelp’s “Hot on Yelp” list and a popular topic on LTH Forum, a Chicago-based food forum. A little more research revealed that Cemitas Puebla was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, which probably attributed to its Yelp popularity. Although I’m not a fan of Guy Fieri as a chef or restauranteur, his DDD gig might be the best job in the country.
Cemitas are a sandwich that’s native to the Mexican state of Puebla and at Cemitas Puebla, they’re comprised of your choice of meat on toasted sesame seed bread, avocado, Oaxacan cheese, papalo (a seasonal cilantro-like herb), their own homemade adobo chipotles. Cemitas Puebla is so committed to the authenticity of their food that they make regular trips to Mexico to get the right ingredients.
We ordered the Cemita Milanesa, a breaded butterflied pork chop that, like all their food, was made fresh to order. The milanesa was a little dry, but combined with the toasted bread, cheese, and chipotles, it was really tasty. In fact, the adobo chipotles with its mild lingering heat might be the real star of Cemitas Puebla since it has a prominent role in every cemita, as well as the Tacos Arabe (see below), and is also available on every table.
Their other specialty is the Tacos Arabe (Arabian Tacos), which owner Tony Anteliz likes to call the “cousin of the shawarma” and comes from the heavy Middle Eastern influence on Puebla. Marinated pork and onions are stacked on a spit roasted like a traditional al pastor. On order, it’s sliced and grilled for a few minutes and then served rolled in a really thin pita with a chipotle sauce that’s made by puréeing their adobo chipotles.
We got their late, so I got the last pieces of meat off the spit, which were really good, but I’m sure their better much earlier in the day. I also got a selection of other tacos including, an excellent carne asada, and very good al pastor and chorizo. One of our friends ordered the chalupas chorizo that looked amazing as well.
The best part about Cemitas Puebla is that it’s cheap, hearty food. Plus the service is fast, friendly and attentive. Even though you order at the counter, they bring your food to you when it’s ready and are always around to make sure you’re being taken care of.
The only negative about the place is that they really love Oscar de la Hoya and his pictures are everywhere. I’m all about Manny Pacquiao and expect Pac-Man to kick Oscar’s ass on December 6. :-)
3619 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60647 map
Cemitas Puebla on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.