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Pub Visit - USA/Canada

Cruz Blanca 1Chicago (West Loop), Illinois:
Cruz Blanca Cervecería and Taquería

Visited on: Wednesday 20th June 2018

Bob Thompson

Cruz Blanca certainly is an unusual concept, possibly unique. It’s a brew-pub-restaurant with Mexican food. Yet, not just Mexican but mostly tacos and very little else. The arrangements within are unusual for the USA with food and drinks ordered separately.

Cruz Blanca 2The concept comes from well known restaurateur Rick Bayliss who owns a number of Chicago restaurants and has one in each of the three terminals at O’ Hare airport. All specialise in Mexican food.

Next door is Leña Brava, one of his restaurants. That one specialises in the cuisine of Baja California, the Mexican province just south of the border with American California, and has a lot of fish and seafood dishes.

They both opened on 5th May 2016. As mentioned before the food in Cruz Blanca is tacos, but not offered in the usual way with them being prepared.

Here the meat is griddled to order and given to you with four taco shells. The accompaniments are selected by yourself in a self service manner. You can choose several sauces and salsas along with vegetables. You create your own tacos and you can make different types.

Cruz Blanca 3It is inspired by a side street in the city of Oaxaca, south east of Mexico City known as “smoke alley” where there are stalls serving tacos in the same manner as Cruz Blanca.

When Linda and I entered we were intercepted by a “meeter and greeter” and when we said we were only there for the beer we were directed to tables on the left between the bar counter and the large windows looking out to Randolph Avenue.

Outside there is a street-side terrace. The main room is L-shaped. If you go forward from the entrance you will see the food ordering counter at the far end. On the left is the shiny brewery behind glass and there are many tables in the middle.

Cruz Blanca 4If you are only there for a drink the process is simple as you order from the bar. We didn’t know this at the time but there is another room upstairs with a bar counter.

Small pours are not offered here so we had three half pints (8 oz). They were as follows with our comments. El Train (6.2%) was an American IPA which had a medium bitter body taste and a hoppy after taste, with a touch of citrus.

Wagga Wagga (7.2%) was an IPA with medium peppery bitterness with hints of orange and a pepper finish. Freetown (9.3%) is a double IPA that is dry-hopped. It started with a fruity body then changed to being very dry and that continued in the after taste. They were cloudy and we liked them all.

It is an interesting pub with pretty good beers and is easy to get to from the Loop.

Important Information:

Cruz Blanca Cervecería and Taquería, 904 West Randolph Street, Chicago 60607-2208. Tel: 312 733 1975

Hours: Monday: Closed; Tuesday-Friday: 11.00-23.00; Saturday-Sunday: 10.00-23.00

The best way to get to the pub is to walk from Morgan CTA station. It is served by the Green and Pink lines.
From the Loop go in a westerly direction. Descend from the elevated platforms to street level.
You are now in North Morgan Street. Turn left and walk one block to West Randolph Street, there turn left.
Now walk a couple of blocks and you will find Cruz Blanco on the left (north) side.