In the Windy City, you’ll discover an extensive array of Chicago-born, border town, and south of the border culinary delights.
You’ll find everything from exotic Oaxacan food in Pilsen to authentic Mexican bakeries in Logan Square, from dishes like michoacana in Little Village to tamales in Pilsen and Humboldt Park, as well as a wealth of quality dishes available for even the pickiest of palates.
You’re about to discover my picks for the ten best Mexican restaurants in Chicago based on food, ambiance, service, and more.
Visiting other destinations in Illinois? Check out our other delicious guides:
- Where To Find The Best Deep Dish Pizza In Chicago: Our Top 5 Favorite Picks
- 15 Best Restaurants In Naperville
- Must-Try Chicago Food
- 10 Best Chicago Dishes
- The Best Mediterranean Food In Chicago
- 17 Best Restaurants Peoria Illinois
- Best Mexican Food In Chicago
- Final Thoughts On The Best Mexican Restaurants In Chicago
Best Mexican Food In Chicago
4852 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago // +17735233700
Cinnamon-laced coffee, thick, handmade tortillas, and salsas made to order. You’ll find all of that here.
Birria, a specialty of Jalisco, has been served by the Zaragoza clan for over a decade. Using a 100-year-old recipe from Los Altos, they prepare their regional stew of goat meat and spices.
In addition to using their own goats, the Zaragozas take great pride in their process and ingredients. Several hours of cooking make the meat juicy and tender (inclusions include goat head and tripe) in addition to a tomato consommé, red mole, homemade tortillas, and a selection of garnishes (onions, cilantro, chilies, and lime).
Be sure not to miss the molcajete sauce, made with fire-roasted tomatoes and chilies.
2500 S. Christiana Ave., Chicago // +17738237546
Mexican breakfast heaven is found at this Little Village restaurant. The decor is based on the cathedral theme and features saints and other religious images.
According to the owner and chef Ambrocio “Bocho” González, he has grown his collection thanks to the religious motifs and saints his customers have gifted him.
In addition to eggs, omelets, pancakes, and crepes, the menu also includes chilaquiles, which will especially appeal to those who have a shrine in their hearts to these tasty morsels.
A popular green chilaquiles dish at La Catedral, González explains, is the traditional version made with tomatillo sauce, or the very spicy version made with chipotle chilis, which are smoky and rich in flavor.
You can also sample one of the many milkshakes or the café de olla. There are long lines on weekends, but it’s worth it.
445 N. Clark St., Chicago // +13126611434
The fanciest and most upscale of Rick Bayless’ Mexican restaurant, Topolobampo, has consistently earned Michelin stars since 2015.
The products at his restaurants are local and seasonal, as they are at all of them. So whatever you choose to eat, whether it’s oysters, ceviche, or one of the delicious moles, you’re eating the best of the season.
The constantly changing menu makes it hard to predict exactly what you will find day-to-day, but Bayless is involved, so it never really feels like a gamble.
1835 W. North Ave., Chicago // +17732894991
Previously known as Las Palmas, Taquizo features an Instagrammable patio and fun, playful drinks.
Their menu offers a variety of street classics such as asada, al pastor, and cochinita pibil tacos, as well as lesser-known cuts of meat like suadero (between the belly and leg), sopes, and esquites. The menu also features the restaurant’s creation like quesatacos (a quesadilla/taco hybrid).
Tacos are made better with the perfect plating – the meat, the tortillas, and the garnishes are served separately, so guests can create their own ratio.
Among Taquizo’s partners, Richard Vallejo recommends a smoked-grilled octopus, a fan favorite with tamarind-Morita glaze, garlic mojo, caramelized potatoes, and chorizo romesco.
Brunch is available at the restaurant. They also offer seasonal dishes and specials, such as Oaxacan tamales.
1725 W. 18th St., Chicago // +13122262654
A tortilla pairs beautifully with pork, and Carnitas is the perfect example of this incredible world colliding.
Hernán Cortés brought pork meat to what is now Mexico, and eating it was evidence of Catholic faith during the Holy Inquisition.
Mexicans of all walks of life enjoy carnitas tacos today, a ritual that transcends time and space and unites Mexicans from all walks of life.
There is also a traditional cactus salad, pickled chilis, chicharrón, and brain quesadillas. In addition, Michoacan-style tamales, known as corundas, which are made with two different types of masa and stuffed with either queso fresco or Swiss chard, were recently added to the menu. Toppings on the tamales include chile de arbol sauce, sour cream, and cotija cheese.
5848 N. Broadway, Chicago // +17736541900
A favorite of both locals and tourists alike, Mas Allá del Sol’s chef and owner Adam Moreno has created food that was once commissioned to prepare for a group of visitors, including the Archbishop of Mexico City.
The story is somewhat poetic since the Catholic Church has historically been a part and patron of Mexico’s culinary history.
Moreno’s serves other delicacies in addition to enchiladas, picaditas, chiles relleno, and a cactus salad. Puerco con verdolagas, made with “tangy meaty leaves” that bring out the pork to its fullest, is just as Mexican but not so easy to find.
There is usually a wait at this casual neighborhood eatery, which is open for dinner and weekends.
900 W. Randolph S.t, Chicago // +13127331975
Formerly owned by Rick Bayless, Lena Brava is now operated by Hogsalt Inc. (the owners of Au Cheval). The restaurant features a wood-burning oven and a hearth.
It is all about the fire along Randolph Street, starting with the kitchen and ending with the mezcal.
This chic, casual west loop restaurant’s menu focuses on Baja-inspired dishes that celebrate the culinary and aquatic diversity of Baja California.
Its menu includes dishes like the “Puerto Nuevo” style spot prawns with Meyer lemon-anchovy butter and chipotle, as well as Lena ceviche prepared with Mediterranean flavors like tomatoes, olives, and capers.
Adding to the smokiness brought forth by the fire-roasted ingredients, the ceviche is accompanied by tostadas with tlayuda – a dish that is not indigenous to Baja. In addition, you can choose from a variety of meat and side dishes, as well as wines from the Valle de Guadalupe.
Furthermore, the menu showcases the restaurant’s environmentally-responsible vendors.
6724 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago // +17737676075
Despite the small size of this counter-seat-only birria joint, it makes up for it with excellent flavor. However, despite all the soups being above average (birria, posole, menudo), the meat in its juice is the most appealing.
Every time, a rich broth filled with creamy beans, bacon, and chopped-up skirt steak hits the spot.
Although tacos and tortas round out the menu, they seem entirely unnecessary when compared to a big bowl of steak soup.
You can order homemade tortillas at the restaurant and create your own bacon-steak tacos.
4842 W. Diversey Ave., Chicago // +17732838984
With Baha Restaurant, it’s always summer where patrons can enjoy everything from ceviche, tacos, empanadas, and seafood-stuffed stuffed peppers to whole grilled fish enjoyed beachside in Mexico.
Take advantage of the Instagram-worthy ceviche towers, a Sinaloan seafood trend that stacks ceviche, seafood, avocado, and a generous amount of condiments into tubular structures.
Among their menu offerings are three dishes: Verde, featuring aguachile, squid, scallops, avocado, and jalapenos; Baha, featuring lobster, shrimp, octopus, tuna, and squid; and what they’ve cleverly dubbed “the Sears Tower,” which layers shrimp, fish, crab meat, mango, cucumber, and tomatoes among other ingredients.
720 N. State St., Chicago // +13123748995
Tzuco quickly established itself as a destination for locals and tourists alike, paying homage to Chef Carlos Gaytán’s hometown of Huitzuco, Guerrero.
In addition to having the first Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant in Chicago, Gaytán’s story and gravitas in Chicago and beyond helped to foster buzz around his return. You feel as if you are in an upscale Mexican restaurant at his restaurant in River North.
Its authentic Mexican fare is inspired by French cuisine and techniques and family recipes, food memories, and food memories.
Several dishes on the menu (perhaps influenced by the chef’s stay in Playa del Carmen) are inspired by foods from the southeastern region of Mexico.
Some of the most popular dishes include the aguachile and the cochinita pibil in Guerrero style. Don’t forget to save room for dessert.
Final Thoughts On The Best Mexican Restaurants In Chicago
Due to its size and prominence, the Mexican community’s presence in the city is reflected in the abundance of restaurants catering to Mexicans of all generations that are easily found outside the Mexican enclaves.
A diverse collection of Mexican flavors makes up Chicago’s culinary diversity, which includes traditional flavors, techniques, and ingredients, as well as brand-new creations inspired by Mexico’s unique flavors.