Restaurants in 49 states now have the right to use the phrase Taco Tuesday, and to celebrate, DoorDash is supporting and spotlighting Mexican restaurants across the country. Here are some of our favorites in Chicago!
Newcomers to Chicago expect deep-dish pizza and memorable fine dining. But they’re always blown away by just how great and how varied the Mexican food options are here. Here are the best Mexican restaurants in Chicago, according to our local expert who really knows his tortillas. And tacos. And enchiladas. And quesadillas. Okay, you get it.
The Truck Stop Nachos from this Logan Square fast-casual fave are best in class — loaded with so many pickled onions and peppers and such tasty black beans that the nachos almost seem healthy. To counteract all that nutrition, we like to add a side of queso and pour it right on top. At lunch, the Baja fish bowl satisfies every time; at dinner, an assortment of tacos (al pastor, barbacoa) and mezcal margarita bottled for two does the trick. Salsas and sides are inexpensive, so don’t forget to click some onto your order.
The best way to order these tacos — steak, chicken, or mushroom — is by the platter, a DIY fiesta that comes with salsas, beans, and poblano rajas. Don’t miss the add-ons like elote (street corn), perfect guac, and a Caesar salad made with pepitas and radishes. The tlayudas, a specialty of Oaxaca, are like pizza-sized tostadas, gooey, crisp, and loads of fun to tear into. And really don’t miss the house-brewed beers that are bright with the flavors of tropical fruits and ideally matched to the food.
If only we could count the number of times we’ve poked around DoorDash looking for that “aha, that’s what I want” moment and landed on Big Star. One Off Hospitality has found the taco sweet spot with its combination of chewy, corny, hand-pressed tortillas and distinctive fillings that don’t taste like anything else. Our go-tos are the Taco de Panza with crispy pork belly and tomato-guajillo salsa, and the beer-battered fish with cabbage slaw and chipotle mayo. Don’t forget nachos, which smartly arrive in a pizza box. The house salad topped with a generous portion of pastor also hits the spot.
Rick Bayless’s gourmet sandwich shop is that rare place where you might take an out-of-town visitor for a true Chicago dining experience one week, and order in for a midweek dinner the next. The Mexican tortas are stuffed with local meats from Gunthorp Farms (the chicken Milanesa is the most popular) and a host of crunchy-tangy-creamy toppings like pickled jalapeños, tomatillo-avocado salsa, black beans, and Jack cheese. The menu also includes tacos, a nice selection for kids (including a mini version of that Milanesa torta), and a deeply flavored pozole soup with crunchy napa cabbage for a garnish. Save room for churros.
Owner Pepe Barajas has always been around Mexican restaurants, from his childhood in Mexico City to La Josie, his own spot, which has been serving one of the city’s most ambitious Mexican menus since 1997. The taco salads here are like none you’ve tried, with starring proteins like skirt steak and beer-battered striped bass. In the Platos Fuertes section, look for ridiculously perfect enchiladas made with hand-pressed tortillas and fat Tiger shrimp, or three kinds of cheese, or chicken. We almost forgot the cocktails! Margarita, mezcal margarita, paloma … they’re all good to go.
Sometimes this transportation-themed taco shop is as busy at the nearby CTA Irving Park station, so you’ll want to remember that delivery is always an option. The menu lists tacos both classic (carnitas, al pastor) and creative (bacon-wrapped shrimp). (Pro tip: get a two-taco “commuter combo” with rice, beans, chips, and salsa.) The burritos come as thick as a train rail, and the burrito bowls are a great value and include your choice of protein, sides (guacamole, loaded elote), and a drink (mmm Mexican Coke). If only you could pay with your Ventra card…
Hop on the quesabirria train at this low-key Logan Square storefront which specializes in the trendy tacos. These cheesy-beefy concoctions come two to an order with a side cup of consomme for dipping. That same great stewed beef also stars in burritos and tortas, or just by its delicious lonesome with soup. The entrees are all old-school, so think fajitas or enchiladas with rice, beans, and salad. But once you go quesabirria, it’s hard to go back.
The tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and bowls at this unique spot show just how nicely Mexican and Korean cuisines can play together. For the best mashup, try one of the burritos stuffed solid with kimchi fried rice, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and spicy sauces. Those avoiding gluten will be happy to find the rice-based gogi bowls with a runny fried egg on top. Did we mention sweet potato waffle fries?
Sonoran-style dishes are the highlight at this Mexican restaurant set on the border of Lincoln Park and Bucktown. They are best known for their signature cheese crisps, which are a bit like cracker-crust pizzas. You can order them as usual (the four choices include chorizo and green chile), but if you’re willing to put in a minute’s worth of work, order those crisps in Take and Bake kits which allow you to experience them at their freshest. Tag on mini chimichangas for some crunchy goodness and great guac, available in regular and chiquito portions.
Rick Bayless’ flagship restaurant, now in its 36th year, still feels like a culinary tour of Mexico led by the consummate guide. Pedigreed meats are bathed in distinctive marinades, grilled over wood, and adorned with spectacular sauces culled from regional foodways throughout Mexico. Pork collar comes in a Yucatan-style sour orange marinade, while duck carnitas feature a roasted serrano-tomatillo salsa. The build-your-own taco plates come with gobs of garnishes and reheating instructions, and the tortilla soup is the definitive version against which you will judge all others.
This Lincoln Park old-timer is the kind of Mexican restaurant that only exists in Chicago. It has more than a little Greek diner in its DNA, so specialties include a fat gyros burrito loaded with meat, tomatoes, lettuce, and creamy “thathicki” sauce. In the morning, breakfast tacos and burritos come with eggs, cheese, ham, bacon, and turkey bacon in any combination. Come lunchtime, the tacos go traditional: Think chorizo, lengua, and al pastor.
The Mexican small plates at this sleek River North cocktail spot can easily make a meal if you combine two or three — perhaps the trio of handcrafted guacamoles, crispy chicken flautas, and street quesadillas filled with veggies and cheese. If you need something more substantial, tacos come generously overstuffed with smoked brisket, ancho-rubbed pork, or lobster, three to the order.
This modest restaurant is considered destination dining by fans who drive in from all over Chicagoland for the house specialties. The menu, however, needs a bit of translation. A Stelote Burrito, for instance, combines fire-grilled steak with elote, onions, and cilantro, while A Fish Called William Burrito combines strips of tortilla-encrusted tilapia with avocado and cabbage. Many don’t ever look past the Mother Clucker, which tucks an entire pound of grilled chicken with creamy tequila-lime sauce into a burrito that’s dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow.
DePaul kids keep this place buzzing morning, noon, and night. Morning means huevos rancheros, omelets, and burritos. At lunch, attention turns to Mexico City-style street tacos and cheese fries, if not sopes and tortas. Dinner is time for loaded nachos and enchilada dinners served with rice and beans. Gorditas offer some serious heft for the buck.
“Barrio” means neighborhood, and the one in question is the trendiest part of River North. How about a lobster quesadilla or tuna ceviche tacos in crispy wonton shells? The ever-popular skirt steak tacos with a creamy poblano sauce and crisp fried jalapeños are always hard to resist, but this menu deserves some exploration.
Taco-burrito restaurants are to Chicago what diners are to New York: They promise a kind of food that pleased crowds in decades past. A classic of the genre, this small mini-chain serves up gut-busting platters, enormous burritos, and Chicago-style tacos loaded with ground beef, cheese, and sour cream. Count on rice, beans, and a heavy dose of nostalgia.
This Logan Square spot combines two things that Chicagoans love: tacos that could legit pass for Mexico City street fare and stiff margaritas. Few spots on this list can boast such a variety of good drinks to go: margarita bombers, Long Island iced tea, and sangria. The tacos are great, but hungry folks should scroll straight to the “lindo” burritos as beautiful as they are bounteous, and the platters of enchiladas enmoladas bathed in house red mole.
With four northside locations, Burrito House covers a lot of ground, both its footprint and its menu. Just about any hankering will be met, whether you’re thinking tacos, tortas, sopes, or tostadas. The menu also takes a detour to so-called Burgerland, where your kid or spouse can find something to eat while you consider the competing merits of a shrimp fajita dinner plate and a steak French fries supreme, which is kind of like “nachos meets poutine.”
Birria is on the menu here, and it comes in all forms – in tacos, in a dinner with a side of consomme, in quesabirrias, and in birria ramen. We love the Mexican plates with enchiladas or flautas with rice and beans, but if you don’t have the appetite, there’s a full roster of lighter fare, including sopes, huaraches, and caldos (soups). And don’t oversleep because the breakfast plates rock.
If you’ve ever driven or biked through Avondale, chances are you’ve seen this restaurant’s sign promoting its famous “salsa negra” and wondered: just what the heck is black salsa? Heaven, that’s what. This dark and moody fire-roasted combination of peppers and tomatoes is exactly what you want to snack on with a bag of chips as you contemplate your dinner – fantastic Mexican street tacos, overstuffed tortas on bollito rolls, and an eye-popping chimichanga con todo.