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7.9
CHI

The Garage

This Restaurant is Permanently Closed

Throwback to third grade real quick. Remember when you had your school’s weekly lunch schedule memorized? Monday, sloppy joes. Tuesday, beef cheese nachos (ew). Wednesday, chicken fingers. And if you didn’t like the menu that day, Lunch Lady Sylvia and her butt-length hair would whip together the dreaded PB&J.; Besides being grossly appalled at the severe lack of nutritional value (or maybe you weren't), there was something comforting about knowing the menu in advance. The Garage is comforting like that, except substitute your sloppy joes and chicken fingers for a rotating menu of visiting food trucks, and replace boring PB&Js; with kick*ss tacos.

Every day, The Garage offers a split menu: half homemade street tacos, half visiting food truck/restaurant/chef, and everything is made daily in-house. For the homemade fare, that means the tacos, salsas, guacamole, and any other daily specials are brand-spankin’ new and fresh every day. While this is bound to result in a bit of inconsistency, it mostly just rocks your world. Pick two tacos, two salsas, chips, and a drink for $10-$12, and they’ll box it up in a cardboard lunch pail that makes you feel like you’re about to head back to the guys at the construction site. It’s a hard deal to beat.

The other half of the menu is supplied by a neighbor and consists of a pre- packaged lunch special. You’ll know what you’re in for based on the large chalkboard calendar on the wall. Fan favorites and common supporting cast include Yum Dum Truck (Mondays), Donermen Truck (Thursdays), or the chefs from Blackbird or PQM. Sometimes The Garage even supplies the other half of the menu, like Fridays, which are traditionally “Chicago Style Day” where you can grab brats, dogs, and tots.

We recommend taking out over eating here for two reasons. First, the space is pretty small. They have a few tables, but it’s not huge since it is literally a garage - it’s the resting spot for the Salsa Truck when it’s not roaming the mean streets of Chi. Second, you’d need to be cool with burning all your clothes. Unless it’s summertime and the garage door is open, it seals in the taco aromas a little too well. But if you do stick around, the crew behind the counter is cool. They're funny, friendly, and creativity emanates from their fingertips, which is all evident through the concept, space, and colorful murals on the walls.

The Garage blends in well with the warehouse-friendly West Loop and provides a much needed cheap taco respite for the professional yet hipster neighborhood work crowd. They’re open until they sell out, and popular items indeed get crossed off, so head out early and beat the line. It’s the kind of place that makes you happy you’re in Chicago, and even happier that you’re no longer eating cafeteria sloppy joes.

Food Rundown

Carne Asada Taco

The tacos come in delicious corn tortillas, and this particular one is loaded with tender grilled steak marinated in mojo and covered in chimichurri. Top it off with a handful of chopped onions and cilantro with a squeeze of lime, and you’ve got yourself a winner. We usually suggest trying different things, but we wouldn’t blame you for choosing steak for both of your tacos.

Al Pastor Taco

We really appreciate when restaurants don’t skimp on the pineapple in our al pastor, and The Garage doesn’t disappoint in this respect. The pork is flavorful and rubbed in a perfect amount of spices.

Chorizo Taco

A very close silver medalist to the carne asada. Their housemade ground pork sausage and spicy chiles is a little bit greasy and a lot bit delicious. Maybe don’t eat this one in front of your boss as you’re sure to end up with a little bit of grease dribbling down your chin.

Chicken Taco

This one doesn’t pack quite the same punch as the others. The shredded chicken in adobo sauce is good but not great.

The Salsas

They offer four homemade salsas everyday, and they vary in spiciness, sweetness, and smokiness. Our favorites are the Roasted Tomatillo & Chipotle, which is smoky with a medium level of spice, and the Salsa Roja, which hits you with a little more heat. They’re color coded, so just remember to grab a yellow and a red.

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