Quay Tao's plans for Portage Park continue to manifest, as he's bringing a new taco concept to the Northwest Side neighborhood. Cochinita Taco Co., opening on Thursday, is a bold move for Tao, as he closed The Portage in December in favor of going casual Mexican. But bold moves aren't new for Tao, who's already brought boutique beef via Community Tavern and plans on bringing even more fine dining to the neighborhood.
The Portage's modern diner feel is gone, replaced with lighter colors, giving the space a more airy feeling. They're using Corona beer six-pack cases to house napkins and salsa. When announcing Cochinita in December, Tao drew a comparison to Big Star, which draws many guests due to its outdoor seating. There's no shots of Cochinita's own outdoor area (lousy Smarch weather), but Tao wants to showcase that space during warmer months.
It's a simple menu at Cochinita, and Tao gave credit to a former Portage line cook, Danny Tolentino, in helping develop the tacos. For taco purists, prices range from $2.50 from the vegetarian mushroom to $4 for the Korean short rib. They're also serving quesadillas, empanadas and churros. As far as beverages, there's one large-format entry, the "Mexican Bulldog," which also comes in an individual serving for those without friends and don't like to share.
Cochinita officially opens on Thursday, but in the meantime chew on the photos above and read the menu below.