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Best of Chicago > Food & Drink > Street Food

Best Street Food, Reader's Choice: Oaxacan tamale at the Maxwell Street Market

Jim Newberry

Reader’s Choice

Maxwell Street Market

Some street vendors have found ways to evade local law enforcement or otherwise get around repressive codes regarding food carts, but for a certifiably legal selection of small-batch, hand-crafted street food, there’s no finer venue than Canal Street, current home of the Maxwell Street Market. Over the years the legendary Cheat You Fair may have gone from largely Jewish to largely African-American, but in its current incarnation it’s also a mecca for Mexican food. Oaxacan tamales—corn masa rectangles filled with pork and steamed in banana leaves—are exquisitely simple and satisfying. Styrofoam cups of meaty birria are flecked with rich fat and resonant with chile heat; churros pulled hot from the oil will forever put you off eating any but fresh ones. Munching tacos of red and green mole, you stand in the sun, sweating as you swallow, glad to be alive. Arrow Sun 7 AM-3 PM, Canal between Taylor and 14th. —David Hammond

Readers’ Choice

Maxwell Street Market

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