Migo serves up tasty tacos and small plates with a surprise or two

A tongue taco and a roasted lamb taco at Migo. Photos by Kevin Gibson.

A tongue taco and a roasted lamb taco at Migo | Photo by Kevin Gibson

As I perused the menu at Migo, noting the $6, $7 and even $8 tacos, I knew I’d be spending a fair amount on dinner. But hey, if I’m prepared for it, that’s fine by me.

Migo, in the former space of Loop 22, at 2222 Dundee Road, is a quirky Mexican-themed place that has been garnering a lot of praise since opening back in October. Hey, it’s another work involving two of the folks behind Hammerheads and Game, so it’s no surprise. What later did surprise me was, well, surprising.

My girlfriend Cynthia and I went for dinner on a recent weeknight, and the place was starting to fill up, which is always a good sign. The menu is easy to navigate as a collection of small plates, a build-your-own taco menu, and a menu of vegetarian tacos and sides.

The small plates can serve as fine appetizers or to build sharable meals, and they intrigue: Corn Five Way Tamales, Bone Marrow Elote, short rib chilaquiles and lots more, and everything is $10 and under. Cynthia was keen to try the Yuca Tots, and we decided to have them sent out before the rest of our food. (Hey, we were really hungry.)

Meanwhile, we ordered three tacos, and ordering at Migo is as simple as choosing your meat filling, then choosing from one of five styles: BBQ, with slaw, BBQ sauce and crunched pork rinds; Hawaiian, with fruit pico de gallo and citrus mango glaze; Korean, with kimchi, shredded carrots, basil and bulgogi sauce; Baja, with pickled slaw, avocado and tomatillo-lemon aioli; and Mexican, with red onion, cilantro and salsa fresco.

Can you see our dilemma? Choosing was not easy.

Cynthia finally opted for a pork belly taco, Baja style. I went for a roasted lamb taco, Baja style, and a beef tongue taco, Mexican style. To that I added a special of the evening in the form of a small plate of fried duck livers; Migo is always finding some surprising specials to throw into the mix, and I couldn’t resist this one. I also ordered a local draft beer from Apocalypse Brew Works; Migo also offers cocktails from a full bar as well as wine.

Fried duck livers.

Fried duck livers.

The Yuca Tots arrived after five minutes or so, and we were immediately happy diners. The yucca was processed and cooked perfectly to a light, fluffy texture, bearing an almost nutty flavor. They were topped with cilantro and pico, then drizzled with queso fresco, but also present was rich, tasty chimichurri rojo salsa that made a nice companion to the yucca. Great dish for sharing as an appetizer or side.

We were halfway through the yucca when my duck livers arrived. Our friendly server, Ken, had described them as lightly fried “medallions,” but there were whole duck livers, nicely fried, not overdone, and perched atop a slightly spicy lentil and mushroom bed that resembled churro. I never shy from chicken livers, but I found the duck livers to have a slightly milder flavor. The dish was really quite enjoyable, from top to bottom.

After I had taken maybe two bites, our tacos arrived. While I sometimes balk at paying $6 or $7 for a single taco (it just seems wrong, somehow), the tacos at Migo don’t skimp. Interestingly, they don’t look big to the eyeballs, but they were certainly sizable once they found my stomach.

Yuca Tots.

I particularly enjoyed the rich tongue, which was served as two small slabs instead of the usual cubes, and cooked a bit more than at the standard Mexican place. Crunchy peppers in the salsa made for an interesting texture, and the flavor combo worked nicely with these standard Mexican toppings.

Meanwhile, the roasted lamb was lightly seasoned, with nothing blocking the distinctive, natural flavor of the meat. This made for a surprisingly nice pairing with the pickled onion in the slaw, and my mouth found near perfection.

I had a small bite of Cynthia’s pork belly, which was, well, pork belly (hard to go wrong), although she seemed to feel she’d perhaps chosen wrong, despite the fresh addition of a slab of avocado; Korean style might have been a better call there. All in all, though, we were happy and full.

I held my breath as the check came, and that’s when my surprise hit me. It was under $40, when I’d been expecting around $50. Again, I’d have been fine if my projection had been correct, and the argument can be made that $40 is still high for three tacos, two small plates and a beer, but we weren’t complaining in the least. And I’m always happy to fly under my projections.