There are many reasons to trek to Gish Bac, the Oaxacan restaurant David Padilla and Maria Ramos opened in 2010 in Arlington Heights. It's a modest and cheery place, with big tables and great service, and the owners probably will serve you themselves, chatting as if you were in their home, which is what the place feels like (and kind of is). The Oaxacan food — chicken and mole negro tamales served in the banana leaves they were cooked in, clayudas the size of frying pans — is wonderful. But you're here for the barbacoa, which means that you're here on the weekends, when the couple makes the long-cooked goat dish that's the reason they went into business in the first place. Although there's also lamb barbacoa, order the goat, or barbacoa enchilada, which will come to you pull-apart tender, having been cooked for five hours in the rich scarlet guajillo chile broth that also comes with the dish, in a separate bowl. There is a cabbage and cilantro slaw, wedges of lime, a bowl of house-made tortillas, and a plate of pancita, the blood sausage–like offal dish. Are there better iterations of barbacoa in this town? Maybe, but they're not in actual restaurants. —Amy Scattergood
4163 W. Washington Blvd., Arlington Heights, 90018. (323) 737-5050, gishbac.com.