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Taqueria El Mezquite
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The 20 Essential Taco Spots in Chicago

Where to find the best carnitas, carne asada, and more

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Taqueria El Mezquite
| Photo by Official Photo

No matter the preference, one thing nearly everyone can agree on is that tacos are delicious. Chicagoans have a wealth of options to choose from because a good, reliable taqueria is almost as ubiquitous as a pizzeria in this city. And like pizza, they come in many varieties. While the North Side is full of spots offering modern and creative spins, the South Side is home to mom-and-pop taquerias that evoke the spirit of Mexican street food.

Whether folks are after al pastor, carne asada, or offal-y bites like tripas, the following 20 taquerias are arguably the best in town. New additions to the list include al pastor specialist Taqueria Los Barrilitos, Diana Davila’s modern Mexican restaurant Mi Tocaya Antojería, and shrimp tacos at La Lagartija Taqueria. Can’t decide on just one spot? A taco crawl might be in order.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Taqueria El Asadero

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2213 W Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 583-5563
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Carne asada is the name of the game at this North Side spot. Perfectly seasoned, tender chunks of steak are thinly sliced and cooked to order. At just $3 per sizeable taco, it’s also a great bargain.

Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

2. L' Patron

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3749 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 252-6335

Although the original location has shuttered, brothers Ernesto and Cesar Gonzales continue to dish out otherworldly tacos in Logan Square. Try the carne asada, al pastor, or fish tacos dressed with roasted serrano aioli, cabbage, and pico de gallo. Just don’t forget to bring some bills because it’s cash only.

3. Del Seoul

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2568 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 248-4227
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A Mexican staple meets Korean flavors at this fusion taqueria. The shrimp tacos are a favorite, battered in panko and topped with cilantro-onion relish, sesame-chili aioli, slaw, and toasted sesames. Other choices include kalbi beef, crispy fish, and blackened tofu tacos.

Del Seoul [Official Photo]

4. Mi Tocaya Antojería

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2800 W Logan Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647
(872) 315-3947
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Diana Dávila has racked up numerous accolades, including Eater Chicago Chef of the Year in 2017, for Mi Tocaya Antojeria. Her Logan Square restaurant is a labor of love, born out of Dávila’s experiences as a first-generation Mexican American. Though tacos are only a small component of the menu, they shouldn’t be overlooked. From fried oysters to beer can chicken, the offerings are both delicious and unique.

5. Big Star

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1531 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 235-4039
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Almost every Chicagoan has waited for a spot at the city’s most popular patio and the tacos are a big reason for its popularity. The “Taco de Papas con Rajas,” packed with potatoes, rajas chipotle, and queso cotija, will make patrons a believer in meatless tacos, while the walking taco is a deconstructed taco served in a Fritos bag for on-the-go convenience. There’s also a take-out window for those who don’t want to brave the never-ending line. A second, bigger Wrigleyville location opened in 2018.

6. Antique Taco

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1360 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 687-8697
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One of Wicker Park’s hippest and most creative taquerias changes its menu from time to time but folks can always expect to see crispy fish tacos with spicy tartar, smoked cabbage, scallions, and sesame. Grilled steak topped with morita salsa, arugula, onion, lime, queso, and cilantro is another favorite. The restaurant also has locations in Bridgeport and Revival Food Hall.

Antique Taco [Official Photo]

7. BIG & little's

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860 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 943-0000
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Seafood tacos don’t get much better than the ones at Big & Little’s. The signature samurai taco features fried whitefish, pickled jalapenos, and special sauces, while other selections include shrimp and even soft shell crab. Poke lovers should try the popular raw ahi tuna taco, as well, for something different. Additional locations in Lakeview, Wicker Park, and Logan Square.

Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

8. La Lagartija Taqueria

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132 S Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-7772
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Shrimp tacos seldom get top billing. The ones from this West Side taqueria, though, are worth raving about. Each taco is built on housemade tortillas with plump, crispy, beer-battered crustaceans, slaw, spicy habanero ketchup, and creamy aioli. For diners who don’t do shellfish, the al pastor is also a solid bet and is shaved straight off a spit.

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HAPPY TUESDAY EAT A TACO.

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9. Rubi's at the New Maxwell Street Market

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800 S Desplaines St
Chicago, IL 60607
(773) 318-9526

This under-the-radar stand has been a mainstay at the Maxwell Street Market since 1997. The corn tortillas are made fresh on site and filled with everything from al pastor and beef tongue to corn mushrooms and squash blossoms. It’s only available on Sundays so plan accordingly.

10. Don Pedro Carnitas

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1113 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 829-4757

There’s usually a line at this Pilsen spot and for good reason. Carnitas are (predictably) the star of the show, cooked in rendered pork fat until crispy. Order the meat by the pound and build tacos with the complimentary condiments and tortillas, but make sure to get there early before it sells out.

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#Carnitas

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11. 5 Rabanitos

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1758 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 285-2710
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Chef Alfonso Sotelo, a Topolobampo and Xoco vet, is dishing out homey and comforting Mexican fare in the heart of Pilsen. Visit the nearby National Museum of Mexican Art before tacos from 5 Rabanitos. They’re loaded with fillings like beef barbacoa, cochinita pibil, chicken tinga, and roasted veggies.

5 Rabanitos [Official Photo]

12. Taqueria El Mezquite

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1756 W 18th
Chicago, IL
(312) 733-0402
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Located just down the street from Carnitas Uruapan, Taqueria El Mezquite goes in a different direction by utilizing every part of the cow. The Cruz family’s secret recipes yield top notch tongue, tripe, brain, and beef head tacos.

Taqueria El Mezquite [Official Photo]

13. Carnitas Uruapan

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1725 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 226-2654
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Eaters will find only one type of meat at this Eater 38 spot. The tender pork carnitas — slow-cooked for more than two hours — reflect the street fare found in Uruapan, Mexico. It’s sold by the pound alongside other items like chicharonnes and cactus salad. Spicy pork brain tacos are available on the weekends for adventurous eaters. A second outpost recently opened in Gage Park.

Carnitas Uruapan [Official Photo]

14. La Casa de Samuel

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2834 W Cermak Rd
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 376-7474
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The tortilla is sometimes an afterthought at taquerias but not here. Head to Samuel Linares’s restaurant for fresh corn tortillas made from scratch. Guests can watch the masa masters at work up front and then taste the difference by enveloping a variety of proteins that range from traditional — carne asada, shrimp — to gamier choices like alligator, rattlesnake, and bull’s testicles.

La Casa de Samuel [Official Photo]

15. La Chaparrita

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2500 S Whipple St
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 247-1402

Attached to a grocery store, La Chaparrita delivers one-of-a-kind tacos de fritangas. This Mexico City specialty features fried meats cooked in a circular metal pan called a charola. Cuts include suadero, longaniza, and the popular tripas — crispy, flavor-packed pieces of cow intestines that even the most picky eaters should try.

16. Taqueria Los Barrilitos

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3518 W 25th St
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 673-0102

Tacos al pastor, a specialty of central Mexico, can be found on most menus but this Little Village spot is perhaps its finest maker. The marinated pork comes from an old family recipe and is roasted on a vertical spit called a trompo. The shaved pieces of meat are crispy, tender, and best paired with the housemade pickled-onions-habanero mix.

17. Taqueria El Milagro

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3050 W 26th St
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 847-9407
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Although it’s best known for tortilla chips, El Milagro also sells excellent tacos. Diners get the most bang for their buck here as heaping chunks of grilled steak, rice, refried beans, and cabbage are loaded onto housemade tortilla. These aren’t dainty tacos; two are more than enough to keep folks full for a while.

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18. Tío Luis Tacos

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3856 S Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60632
(773) 843-0098
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Jose Luis Gonzales’ tacos are a paragon of the form, seasoned just right and grilled to order. The carne asada and adobo-rubbed al pastor are always good decisions, but don’t skip the more offal-y cuts, such as beef tongue and tripe.

Tío Luis Tacos [Official Photo]

19. Paco's Tacos

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4556 S Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60609
(773) 523-9745

Spectacular tacos can come from anywhere. Case in point: Paco’s Tacos. The South Side taqueria, located inside a supermarket, is such a hit that it spawned several brick and mortar restaurants. Follow the scents to the back of the store, grab a seat at the counter, and get ready for high quality carne asada.

20. Birrieria Zaragoza

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4852 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60632
(773) 523-3700
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Mouth-watering goat is basically the only thing on the menu here but that’s all diners really need. The Zaragoza clan serves birria, a barbacoa variant from Jalisco, Mexico that features roasted goat in flavorful consommé. Order a small or large plate and make some of the best tacos in town with corn tortillas and fire-roasted salsa.

Birrieria Zaragoza [Official Photo]

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1. Taqueria El Asadero

2213 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

Carne asada is the name of the game at this North Side spot. Perfectly seasoned, tender chunks of steak are thinly sliced and cooked to order. At just $3 per sizeable taco, it’s also a great bargain.

2213 W Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

2. L' Patron

3749 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Although the original location has shuttered, brothers Ernesto and Cesar Gonzales continue to dish out otherworldly tacos in Logan Square. Try the carne asada, al pastor, or fish tacos dressed with roasted serrano aioli, cabbage, and pico de gallo. Just don’t forget to bring some bills because it’s cash only.

3749 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

3. Del Seoul

2568 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
Del Seoul [Official Photo]

A Mexican staple meets Korean flavors at this fusion taqueria. The shrimp tacos are a favorite, battered in panko and topped with cilantro-onion relish, sesame-chili aioli, slaw, and toasted sesames. Other choices include kalbi beef, crispy fish, and blackened tofu tacos.

2568 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

4. Mi Tocaya Antojería

2800 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647

Diana Dávila has racked up numerous accolades, including Eater Chicago Chef of the Year in 2017, for Mi Tocaya Antojeria. Her Logan Square restaurant is a labor of love, born out of Dávila’s experiences as a first-generation Mexican American. Though tacos are only a small component of the menu, they shouldn’t be overlooked. From fried oysters to beer can chicken, the offerings are both delicious and unique.

2800 W Logan Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647

5. Big Star

1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Almost every Chicagoan has waited for a spot at the city’s most popular patio and the tacos are a big reason for its popularity. The “Taco de Papas con Rajas,” packed with potatoes, rajas chipotle, and queso cotija, will make patrons a believer in meatless tacos, while the walking taco is a deconstructed taco served in a Fritos bag for on-the-go convenience. There’s also a take-out window for those who don’t want to brave the never-ending line. A second, bigger Wrigleyville location opened in 2018.

1531 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

6. Antique Taco

1360 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Antique Taco [Official Photo]

One of Wicker Park’s hippest and most creative taquerias changes its menu from time to time but folks can always expect to see crispy fish tacos with spicy tartar, smoked cabbage, scallions, and sesame. Grilled steak topped with morita salsa, arugula, onion, lime, queso, and cilantro is another favorite. The restaurant also has locations in Bridgeport and Revival Food Hall.

1360 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

7. BIG & little's

860 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60610
Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

Seafood tacos don’t get much better than the ones at Big & Little’s. The signature samurai taco features fried whitefish, pickled jalapenos, and special sauces, while other selections include shrimp and even soft shell crab. Poke lovers should try the popular raw ahi tuna taco, as well, for something different. Additional locations in Lakeview, Wicker Park, and Logan Square.

860 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60610

8. La Lagartija Taqueria

132 S Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60607

Shrimp tacos seldom get top billing. The ones from this West Side taqueria, though, are worth raving about. Each taco is built on housemade tortillas with plump, crispy, beer-battered crustaceans, slaw, spicy habanero ketchup, and creamy aioli. For diners who don’t do shellfish, the al pastor is also a solid bet and is shaved straight off a spit.

132 S Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60607

9. Rubi's at the New Maxwell Street Market

800 S Desplaines St, Chicago, IL 60607

This under-the-radar stand has been a mainstay at the Maxwell Street Market since 1997. The corn tortillas are made fresh on site and filled with everything from al pastor and beef tongue to corn mushrooms and squash blossoms. It’s only available on Sundays so plan accordingly.

800 S Desplaines St
Chicago, IL 60607

10. Don Pedro Carnitas

1113 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

There’s usually a line at this Pilsen spot and for good reason. Carnitas are (predictably) the star of the show, cooked in rendered pork fat until crispy. Order the meat by the pound and build tacos with the complimentary condiments and tortillas, but make sure to get there early before it sells out.

1113 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

11. 5 Rabanitos

1758 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608
5 Rabanitos [Official Photo]

Chef Alfonso Sotelo, a Topolobampo and Xoco vet, is dishing out homey and comforting Mexican fare in the heart of Pilsen. Visit the nearby National Museum of Mexican Art before tacos from 5 Rabanitos. They’re loaded with fillings like beef barbacoa, cochinita pibil, chicken tinga, and roasted veggies.

1758 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

12. Taqueria El Mezquite

1756 W 18th, Chicago, IL
Taqueria El Mezquite [Official Photo]

Located just down the street from Carnitas Uruapan, Taqueria El Mezquite goes in a different direction by utilizing every part of the cow. The Cruz family’s secret recipes yield top notch tongue, tripe, brain, and beef head tacos.

1756 W 18th
Chicago, IL

13. Carnitas Uruapan

1725 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608
Carnitas Uruapan [Official Photo]

Eaters will find only one type of meat at this Eater 38 spot. The tender pork carnitas — slow-cooked for more than two hours — reflect the street fare found in Uruapan, Mexico. It’s sold by the pound alongside other items like chicharonnes and cactus salad. Spicy pork brain tacos are available on the weekends for adventurous eaters. A second outpost recently opened in Gage Park.

1725 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

14. La Casa de Samuel

2834 W Cermak Rd, Chicago, IL 60623
La Casa de Samuel [Official Photo]

The tortilla is sometimes an afterthought at taquerias but not here. Head to Samuel Linares’s restaurant for fresh corn tortillas made from scratch. Guests can watch the masa masters at work up front and then taste the difference by enveloping a variety of proteins that range from traditional — carne asada, shrimp — to gamier choices like alligator, rattlesnake, and bull’s testicles.

2834 W Cermak Rd
Chicago, IL 60623

15. La Chaparrita

2500 S Whipple St, Chicago, IL 60623

Attached to a grocery store, La Chaparrita delivers one-of-a-kind tacos de fritangas. This Mexico City specialty features fried meats cooked in a circular metal pan called a charola. Cuts include suadero, longaniza, and the popular tripas — crispy, flavor-packed pieces of cow intestines that even the most picky eaters should try.

2500 S Whipple St
Chicago, IL 60623

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16. Taqueria Los Barrilitos

3518 W 25th St, Chicago, IL 60623

Tacos al pastor, a specialty of central Mexico, can be found on most menus but this Little Village spot is perhaps its finest maker. The marinated pork comes from an old family recipe and is roasted on a vertical spit called a trompo. The shaved pieces of meat are crispy, tender, and best paired with the housemade pickled-onions-habanero mix.

3518 W 25th St
Chicago, IL 60623

17. Taqueria El Milagro

3050 W 26th St, Chicago, IL 60623

Although it’s best known for tortilla chips, El Milagro also sells excellent tacos. Diners get the most bang for their buck here as heaping chunks of grilled steak, rice, refried beans, and cabbage are loaded onto housemade tortilla. These aren’t dainty tacos; two are more than enough to keep folks full for a while.

3050 W 26th St
Chicago, IL 60623

18. Tío Luis Tacos

3856 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60632
Tío Luis Tacos [Official Photo]

Jose Luis Gonzales’ tacos are a paragon of the form, seasoned just right and grilled to order. The carne asada and adobo-rubbed al pastor are always good decisions, but don’t skip the more offal-y cuts, such as beef tongue and tripe.

3856 S Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60632

19. Paco's Tacos

4556 S Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60609

Spectacular tacos can come from anywhere. Case in point: Paco’s Tacos. The South Side taqueria, located inside a supermarket, is such a hit that it spawned several brick and mortar restaurants. Follow the scents to the back of the store, grab a seat at the counter, and get ready for high quality carne asada.

4556 S Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60609

20. Birrieria Zaragoza

4852 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60632
Birrieria Zaragoza [Official Photo]

Mouth-watering goat is basically the only thing on the menu here but that’s all diners really need. The Zaragoza clan serves birria, a barbacoa variant from Jalisco, Mexico that features roasted goat in flavorful consommé. Order a small or large plate and make some of the best tacos in town with corn tortillas and fire-roasted salsa.

4852 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60632

Related Maps