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Our 30 Favorite Mexican Dishes in Chicago

¡MEXTRAVAGANZA!: The best tacos, tortillas, seviches, queso fundido, ane more

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Coctel de Camaron at MAYA DEL SOL, $6
Ruben Beltran, yet another Bayless disciple, breathes some life into a hoary old classic by slicing his luscious Gulf shrimp so thin that the fiery tomato-serrano sauce seeps into every square millimeter. An earthy tostadita base, pico de gallo, and smooth diced avocado act as a balm for your tongue. 144 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park; 708-358-9800

Seviche de Callo at MERCADITO, $11.50
If the citrus blast of seviche is too puckery for your tastes, Mercadito has the answer: watermelon. Moist chunks and a pastrylike tostadita balance the edge of wham-bam lime-marinated bay scallops and a deadly serrano-stoked pico de gallo. 108 W. Kinzie St.; 312-329-9555

Goat Taco at MEXICO RESTAURANT, $1.70
The cafeteria ambiance of this family-owned spot has as much personality as the name, but they make a mean goat taco. The spicy pulled goat meat (stuffed in a fresh double-tortilla wrapper with onions and cilantro) is caramelized around the edges, not remotely gamy, and about as tender as a bearded ruminant can be. 694 Lee St., Des Plaines; 847-296-1611

One of our Best Mexican RestaurantsSkate Wing at MEXIQUE, $23
Hmm. Pan-seared skate wing? With grapes, cauliflower, and cubes of Yukon gold potatoes? Not your typical Mexican fare, but then Mexique, with its historical-French slant, is not your typical Mexican restaurant. The fish, encrusted with herbed salt, has a crisp bite to it, and the citrus butter sauce harbors the only hint of a Mexico we know: serrano peppers. 1529 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-850-0288

One of our Best Mexican RestaurantsCamarones al Ajillo at MOM’S OLD RECIPE MEXICAN RESTAURANT, $17
Around the world, shrimp and garlic always seem to find each other. In Mexico, the classic combination is often like Mom’s: Six gorgeous grilled camarones circle a mound of corn-studded rice and bathe in an almost caramelized guajillo sauce punched up with sautéed garlic. 5760 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-467-1009

One of our Best Mexican RestaurantsQueso Fundido at NUEVO LÉON, $9.20
Poor queso fundido: always the butt of jokes. You take cheese, melt it, and it gets greasy. That’s all. But the good ones, like Nuevo Léon’s, have a complement embedded in all that stretchy Chihuahua: crumbles of first-rate homemade chorizo, acidic tomato fragments, and plenty of jalapeño, all of which you scoop up with grilled flour tortilla wedges. 1515 W. 18th St.; 312-421-1517

One of our Best Mexican RestaurantsPastel Tres Leches at ¡SALPICÓN!, $7
By the time it hits your table, this spongy pastry has been lounging in a fridge for a couple of hours, the better to soak up every ounce of the leches. Resembling a yellow igloo more than Mexico’s beloved birthday cake, ¡Salpicón!’s citrus-flavored version is topped with freshly whipped cream and bottomed with raspberry-mango coulis. 1252 N. Wells St.; 312-988-7811

Enchiladas Potosinas at SAN LUIS, $9
Closer to an empanada than an enchilada, this corn tortilla is blended with salsa, filled with minced chicken, puréed queso cotija, tomato, and chilies, and fried until crisp. It’s an addictive treat popular in the restaurant’s namesake state, San Luis Potosí, and in a just world, it would be popular here, too. 2903 W. Diversey Ave.; 773-276-0691

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