Best Mexican Restaurants in Chicago

The dishes, drinks, and restaurants that make Chicago a Mexican food destination

Big Star's al pastor and pork belly tacos  

Last March, while celebrating Mexico’s upcoming bicentennial, Mayor Daley proclaimed 2010 the Year of Mexico in Chicago. Truer words have not emanated from city hall in years. Less than a century after the first surge of immigrants fled Jalisco, Michoacán, and Guanajato to avoid the revolution rocking their homeland, the Mexican influence in Chicago reaches almost everywhere—but particularly the world of food. In large part thanks to the million-plus Mexican Americans living in the Chicago area, the city and suburbs offer what may be the best place in America to unravel the complex regional nuances of Mexican cuisine. The streets teem with taquerías, birrerias, torterias, and mole houses. And where the upscale Mexican scene once consisted simply of ¡Salpicón! and Rick Bayless’s empire, innovative restaurants like Chilam Balam and Mexique now keep materializing left and right.

Here, the 12 top Mexican restaurants in Chicago: Launch the gallery.

Photo gallery



4 years ago
Posted by ben

Where's Burrito House on Addison/Lincoln??

4 years ago
Posted by Redjameskidd

All of these look fantastic. Thanks for this article. I wish more people could think of Mexican food beyond the obvious and discover all the good stuff out there.

4 years ago
Posted by ElGerry13

You guys are so predicatable! Three of those "Mexican" restaurants are owned by Bayless. Are you kidding me? The only interesting thing you have in there is La Casa de Samuel. The rest is typical, predictable gringo cluelessness. Jeez!

4 years ago
Posted by osiris326

You guess missed a great restaurant right down the street from Nuevo Leon, Abuelo's Mexican Grill. Amazing food, byob and dirt cheap prices for food that can give bayless a run for his money.

4 years ago
Posted by maypole19

What about the Mexican cuisine in the South Suburbs? I like Taco Fresco in Tinley Park. Here they have authentic Little Village tacos and great food that is affordably priced.

4 years ago
Posted by kmorri8

I've resisted commenting in the past because I admittedly didn't know much about the types of cuisine you were giving recommendations about. But Mexican cuisine...I know. Perhaps you guys should take a look at a map and see that Chicago extends further south than 18th Street. Your recommendations never take into account the large number of restaurants that exist on the south side of the city. I won't even get started on how the west side gets completely overlooked. Its a great disservice to your readers to ignore a large part of the city and call yourself Chicago magazine. You should call yourself Northside White Chicago!

4 years ago
Posted by JB

I saw your recommendations on Huffington Post last week and I just started working in Pilsen, so I picked up lunch today at Nuevo Leon for me and a co-worker. I got enchiladas verdes with ground beef (picadillo). On my second bite I discovered, to my horror, a cockroach inside the enchilada. It wasn't small, about 3/4 of an inch long, and completely in tact save for an antennae that I fear I might have eaten in the first bite. We called the restaurant and told them what happened. They said we could bring the food back and get a refund. They did not apologize on the phone; nor did they offer an apology after we drove back to the restaurant. We walked in and the manager was at the register waiting for us. I said "we called." Without a word he took the food and walked away. The cashier gave us our money back and that was it.

4 years ago
Posted by RonL

I am not sure if the person that wrote this article has tastebuds. While I realize opinions are just that, the person that wrote this article has no clue on cuisine or just started several margaritas!
Clearly the best mextican restaurants in Chicago are either the Rick Bayless restaurants or Salpicon. If I had to choose it would be Salpicon for total dining experience and accessibility without the pretentious attitude of Rick's staff

4 years ago
Posted by shakesmom

I agree...the suggestions weren't up to par. I tried a few of the "best" and they were mediocre at best.

But, Maypole19...come on? Taco Tinley Park? First, it's called "Chicago Magazine" and that's like suggesting Chipotle in Alsip.

3 years ago
Posted by bobzaguy

Please check your slideshow. When you click next at #5, it goes to #12. And not only on this article.

3 years ago
Posted by Elizabeth Riley (Chicago magazine)

Hi Bobzaguy,

The slideshow appears to be working correctly. Number 5 should show Xoco and Number 12 should show Xni-Pec de Yucatán. We do have some issues with the navigation moving to the right as people click the "Next" button. That always throws readers off. But this is a known problem we plan to fix.

Please let me know if you continue to have problems.



2 years ago
Posted by uno mas q tu

where is zapatista linlconl park !!!!!you guys need to try this one !!!!!!!is awesome

Submit your comment