The Other Restaurant Row

South shore eateries, markets help make a neighborhood

Al Pastor Restaurant

1911 E. Riverside, 442-8402

Monday-Thursday, 8am-4pm; Friday-Sunday, 8am-10pm

Taco stand hours, Friday-Saturday, 6pm-3:30am

Al Pastor has been the anchor tenant in a small Hispanic strip mall in the 1900 block of East Riverside for almost a decade. Its neighbors are the very popular Club Latino, a bridal shop, a cleaners, a jewelry store that also does a big business in Spanish-language videos and CDs, and a clothing store advertising "pantalones Wrangler." Rosa's eatery is highly regarded in this neighborhood for the quality of the beloved Mexico City street dish, tacos al pastor, made with chunks of marinated, rotisserie-grilled pork, and served on fresh tortillas with a wedge of lime, chopped onions, and cilantro. They also offer reasonably priced breakfast and lunch plates featuring toothsome homestyle versions of all the standard Mexican egg dishes, Puerco Adovado, mole, and carne guisada. Hand-lettered signs around the restaurant describe the pork and the mole dishes as "rico," meaning rich with flavor, and they surely are.

Daytime business at Al Pastor is relatively sedate when compared to the jammin' that goes on at their street-side taco stand on weekend nights. Hungry club patrons, restaurant workers, families, and neighbors line up at Rosa's rustic, open-air taco stand all evening long, clamoring for tacos and other spicy dishes served in paper trays. The food is tasty and substantial, priced to please. The atmosphere can be rambunctious and sometimes the crowd does get rowdy, but it's mostly just a vibrant street scene with a definite Mexican flavor.

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