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Local Flavor: Carne asada and flan — handmade from family recipes at Taqueria La Soga

carne asada

Muñoz family serves up traditional, made-to-order carne asada and other Mexican cuisine

by Josh Bootsma, with Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (January 9, 2023) – Gilberto Muñoz begins his workdays at 6 a.m. or earlier, hand slicing meat and seasoning it with just the right amount of salt. This sliced, seasoned meat becomes carne asada — the basis of many of the menu offerings at Taqueria La Soga, the restaurant Gilberto and his wife Martha own.

They opened Taqueria La Soga in Lansing in 2017, continuing Gilberto’s more than three decades of food preparation experience. Originally from Mexico, he and Martha moved to California where he worked in his family’s restaurant. He brought that experience to Lansing in 2014, along with the family recipes, flavors, and cooking styles. Together Gilberto and Martha Munoz create their own salsa variations, prepare their own meat, and bake their own desserts. As a result, Taqueria La Soga is a distinctly Mexican — and distinctly Lansing — dining experience.

Taqueria La Soga contact info
Address: 19267 Burnham Avenue, Lansing, IL 60438
Phone: 708-858-6002
Facebook: facebook.com/taquerialasoga/

Signature dish: Carne asada

Literally translated as “grilled meat,” carne asada is a popular offering at Taqueria La Soga, and is the winner of The Lansing Journal’s Local Flavor Award. Seasoned only with salt, Gilberto hand cuts pieces of “diezmillo” — chuck steak — in thin slices and grills them. For tacos, burritos, and other entrées, the steak is chopped. But for the carne asada dinner, the slices are left whole. The dinner comes with frijoles (beans), arroz (rice), lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. It includes tortillas on the side, so diners can create their own tacos if they wish.

Cooked to order, the carne asada is tender, salty, and savory. It is delicious on its own or placed in a tortilla with other components — we loved it both ways.

carne asada
Served with tortillas on the side, diners can make La Soga’s carne asada into a taco, or eat the savory meat as-is. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Signature dessert: Flan

Martha Muñoz says there is nothing special about her flan recipe. A traditional Mexican dessert, flan is simply a combination of eggs, milk, evaporated milk, and sugar. Yet the silky, firm custard requires patience and care in order to ensure its smooth texture and gentle flavor. Martha’s flan is a special treat at La Soga — it takes hours to make, and it sells fast, so it is not always available. Striking the perfect balance of lightness and density, vanilla flavor and caramel tones, La Soga’s flan wins a Local Flavor Award as a signature dessert.

La Soga’s flan is a sweet, custard-like cake that isn’t always available, given its popularity and how long it takes to make. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Atmosphere

Gilberto and Martha say they are best friends and have never even argued in the kitchen, in spite of the long hours they spend together day after day. They move around comfortably in the large kitchen space, both taking care of their own routines while also offering help as needed. They smile and joke with each other, and they warmly greet customers who walk through the doorway and approach the counter.

Gilberto and Martha Muñoz are not only husband and wife, they are also co-workers and best friends. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
carne asada
Martha Muñoz (left) blends together a house-made salsa while her husband Gilberto slices carne asada down to taco- and burrito-sized chunks. (Photos: Josh Bootsma)

Most of Taqueria La Soga’s business is take-out, though a couple of tables and a counter are available for dine-in diners. Orders are generally ready in under 10 minutes, and the pricing is competitive. So La Soga is a popular option for local workers who want a local lunch that’s quick yet homemade.

La Soga is located in strip mall near the south end of Lansing, at 19267 Burnham Avenue. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Other notes

  • The Lansing Journal also tried La Soga’s chile relleno dinner, as well as its individually-sized cheesecake, both of which we highly recommend.
  • La Soga offers catering services and participates in many of the food-related fests Lansing offers at Fox Pointe.
  • Martha also makes a delicious capirotada, Mexican bread pudding that is traditionally served during Lent.

Additional info

In 2019, La Soga was chosen by Radio La Que Buena (FM105.1) to host a promotion with their popular radio host “El Primo Rafa” (“Cousin Rafa”). Rafa spent a few hours onsite recording announcements, posting live video on his Facebook page, and posing for photos with customers.


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Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.

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