A David and Goliath story worth its salsa, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the 1862 victory of a ragtag army over French troops in the Battle of Puebla. There’s no particular Mexican fare associated with this glorious event, but we found seven great tacos that make a celebration seem in order.

Bien Trucha (410 W. State St., Geneva; 630-232-2665) Bien Trucha ($9) Soft white corn tortilla Chopped, charred nuggets of grilled skirt steak and spicy chorizo topped with creamy manchego Smooth roasted-serrano tomatillo If you’re a city dweller, you’ll have to drive 40 miles to eat this taco. Do it.
Cemitas Puebla (3619 W. North Ave.; 773-772-8435) Taco arabe ($2.60) Thick flour tortilla inspired by Lebanese pita Spit-roasted caramelized paleta (pork shoulder) marinated in garlic, oregano, mellow chile chilaca, and grassy chile serrano Smoky chipotle The owner, Tony Anteliz Jr., visits Puebla every four to six weeks to buy morita chipotles for the salsa. This taco merges the indigenous cultures of Puebla with that of Lebanese immigrants.
Taquería Uptown (1144 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.; 773-878-4785) Al pastor ($1.55) Soft corn tortilla Marinated pork, spit-roasted achiote (spicy reddish paste from annatto seeds), cilantro, and white onion Vinegar and oregano The acidic edge from a vinegar splash gives this taco—Mexico’s answer to the Greek gyro—a tangy advantage over any local competition.
Xni-Pec (5135 W. 25th St., Cicero; 708-652-8680) Tacos de cochi-nita ($1.90) Soft corn tortilla Banana-leaf-wrapped slow-roasted shredded pork marinated in achiote, orange juice, and Spanish onion Zingy pico de gallo with habanero and sour orange Spicy orange fork-tender pork proves the Yucatán isn’t exclusively about Cancún and Señor Frog’s.
Sol de Mexico (3018 N. Cicero Ave.; 773-282-4119) Tacos de pescado ($15.95) House-made warm fresh corn tortillas encrusted with melted Chihuahua cheese Juicy tilapia nuggets A rich drizzle of tomatillo and sour- and heavy- cream sauce Though the moles here get all the attention, Carlos Tello and his mother-in-law, Clementina Flores, are so facile with their fish preparations, they might consider fishmongering if the restaurant biz fizzles.
Don Pedro Carnitas (1113 W. 18th St.; 312-829-4757) Tacos de carnitas ($1.50) Soft corn tortilla A mixture of salty roast pork, crunchy skin, and bits of chewy fat topped with white onion and cilantro Tomatillo serrano Eating Mexican locally is a busman’s holiday for Frontera Grill’s Rick Bayless, but he makes an exception for the carnitas served here. That’s a serious endorsement.
Taquería el Asadero (2213 W. Montrose Ave.; 773-583-5563) Carne asada ($1.86) Soft corn tortilla from Pilsen’s Tortilleria Del Rey Hunks of crispy skirt steak griddled to order and topped with a confetti of white onion and cilantro Tomatillo jalapeño (available tableside) Crispy bits of juicy beef still slightly pink are self-basted in their own peppery juices: This is the best steak taco in Chicago.


Photograph: Tyllie Barbosa; Food styling: Christina Zerkis