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Taqueria Chignon is a star.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

The 19 Essential Taco Spots in Chicago

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

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Taqueria Chignon is a star.
| Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Chicago’s taco scene, just like its Mexican restaurant community, is strong. And lately the city has been seeing more regional cooking, which also spells diversity for Chicago’s taco offerings. This list avoids fusion creations, like Korean tacos. Instead readers will find more traditional offerings, with a few detours including goat and cheesy items. Take a look at Eater Chicago’s favorite taquerias on the map below and find places with homemade tortillas, fresh salsas, and beautiful pastor. Vegetarians might find one or two options as well.

For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Birrieria Zaragoza

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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]

This South Side family-owned restaurant has gone through a remodel and slight tweak of its name. Solazo is about more than tacos, but the restaurant has capitalized with Taco Tuesday specials and a solid assortment including a sweet and spicy chicken tinga.

La Chaparrita

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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.

L' Patron

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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.

La Casa de Samuel

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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]

Tío Luis Tacos

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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]

Taqueria Chingon

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Near the Logan Square and Bucktown border, the owner of Le Bouchon, the beloved French bistro, has turned to some his most trusted cooks to open their own taqueria. The results have been stunning with street tacos that burst with flavor. Pastor is the house speciality, but everything is worth a try. And the ceviche and flan are also top notch.

Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Taqueria El Asadero

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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

Rojo Gusano

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This contemporary Mexican spot, opened by beloved chef Dudley Nieto, has expanded to a few locations in Albany Park and Ravenswood. The fried fish and Korean BBQ are classics and go well with the mezcal selection.

Taqueria Jarabe (Dr. Murphy's Food Hall)

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Chicago doesn’t have much for breakfast tacos. This isn’t Texas. But Taqueria Jarabe, which is currently operating a stall on the Near West Side in the Medical District, inside Dr. Murphy’s Food Hall, is an exception. The Numero Uno, with eggs, chorizo, and fried potatoes, is a perfect morning pick me up. For more heat, the Machaca with shredded beef and pickled jalapeños will do the trick.

Antique Taco

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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.

Antique Taco [Official Photo]

Taqueria El Mezquite

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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]

Carnitas Uruapan

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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]

La Lagartija Taqueria

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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.

A post shared by Jordan (@smilesandwich) on

Paco's Tacos

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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.

Rubi’s Tacos

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The legendary taco stall lasted 20 years at Maxwell Street Market before the city closed the weekly mainstay due to the pandemic. That accelerated Rubi’s search for restaurant space, one that they found on Pilsen’s main drag on 18th Street. The mole rojo (braised pork on a fresh corn tortilla) stars. The pastor is also worth ordering. But anything tastes better due to the delicate yellow corn wrappings. These are some of the best tortillas in the city.

Don Pedro Carnitas

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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

A post shared by NIGHTWALKER (@nightwalkeramericanasshole) on

Takito Street Lincoln Park

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The Takito brand has three locations, Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, and West Loop, but the Lincoln Park location offers a little bit more — especially in stark contrast to the taquerias clustered around DePaul and aimed at students. The Takito beef, named after the owner’s family, stars with fried potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and marinated steak. Shout out to the Green Farm. Brussel sprouts with sriracha honey proves meat doesn’t make a taco. The equites are also worth an order. 

Taco Sublime

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Taco Sublime was a wandering food truck that’s now been popping up all across the city from Royal Palms Shuffle Board to Marz Community Brewing. The concept is simple: fresh beef, shrimp, and chicken with zesty salsas tossed upon a modest bed of griddled cheese. The results are sensational. Check Instagram from their latest residency and visit ASAP or learn to live with regret.

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Birrieria Zaragoza

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.

Birrieria Zaragoza [Official Photo]

Solazo

This South Side family-owned restaurant has gone through a remodel and slight tweak of its name. Solazo is about more than tacos, but the restaurant has capitalized with Taco Tuesday specials and a solid assortment including a sweet and spicy chicken tinga.

La Chaparrita

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.

L' Patron

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.

La Casa de Samuel

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.

La Casa de Samuel [Official Photo]

Tío Luis Tacos

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.

Tío Luis Tacos [Official Photo]

Taqueria Chingon

Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Near the Logan Square and Bucktown border, the owner of Le Bouchon, the beloved French bistro, has turned to some his most trusted cooks to open their own taqueria. The results have been stunning with street tacos that burst with flavor. Pastor is the house speciality, but everything is worth a try. And the ceviche and flan are also top notch.

Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Taqueria El Asadero

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.

Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

Rojo Gusano

This contemporary Mexican spot, opened by beloved chef Dudley Nieto, has expanded to a few locations in Albany Park and Ravenswood. The fried fish and Korean BBQ are classics and go well with the mezcal selection.

Taqueria Jarabe (Dr. Murphy's Food Hall)

Chicago doesn’t have much for breakfast tacos. This isn’t Texas. But Taqueria Jarabe, which is currently operating a stall on the Near West Side in the Medical District, inside Dr. Murphy’s Food Hall, is an exception. The Numero Uno, with eggs, chorizo, and fried potatoes, is a perfect morning pick me up. For more heat, the Machaca with shredded beef and pickled jalapeños will do the trick.

Antique Taco

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.

Antique Taco [Official Photo]

Taqueria El Mezquite

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.

Taqueria El Mezquite [Official Photo]

Carnitas Uruapan

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.

Carnitas Uruapan [Official Photo]

La Lagartija Taqueria

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.

View this post on Instagram

HAPPY TUESDAY EAT A TACO.

A post shared by Jordan (@smilesandwich) on

Paco's Tacos

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.

Related Maps

Rubi’s Tacos

The legendary taco stall lasted 20 years at Maxwell Street Market before the city closed the weekly mainstay due to the pandemic. That accelerated Rubi’s search for restaurant space, one that they found on Pilsen’s main drag on 18th Street. The mole rojo (braised pork on a fresh corn tortilla) stars. The pastor is also worth ordering. But anything tastes better due to the delicate yellow corn wrappings. These are some of the best tortillas in the city.

Don Pedro Carnitas

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.

View this post on Instagram

#Carnitas

A post shared by NIGHTWALKER (@nightwalkeramericanasshole) on

Takito Street Lincoln Park

The Takito brand has three locations, Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, and West Loop, but the Lincoln Park location offers a little bit more — especially in stark contrast to the taquerias clustered around DePaul and aimed at students. The Takito beef, named after the owner’s family, stars with fried potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and marinated steak. Shout out to the Green Farm. Brussel sprouts with sriracha honey proves meat doesn’t make a taco. The equites are also worth an order. 

Taco Sublime

Taco Sublime was a wandering food truck that’s now been popping up all across the city from Royal Palms Shuffle Board to Marz Community Brewing. The concept is simple: fresh beef, shrimp, and chicken with zesty salsas tossed upon a modest bed of griddled cheese. The results are sensational. Check Instagram from their latest residency and visit ASAP or learn to live with regret.

Related Maps