It’s not always easy finding great Tacos. As a lifelong Chicagoan I can vouch for this and tell you that the city is filled with its share mediocre taco spots. But alas, some hidden gems do exist, and there are even a few restaurants changing the definition of a taco for the better. So, without further adieu, behold our list of the top 5 tacos in Chicago and let us know what you think. If you haven’t tried all 5, you’re selling yourself short!
1. Seoul Taco
While Korean food and Mexican food don’t seem like the most intuitive combination, believe me when I say that owner David Choi has found a way to make it work. In 2016 he brought Seoul Taco to Chicago (its 5th location) after starting Seoul Taco as food truck in 2011 in St. Louis Missouri, and the rest is history.
Choi combined his love of his grandma’s cooking with his love of tacos to create a simple but delicious menu. Customers have the option of 4 different fillings, including bulgogi beef, soy-marinated chicken, spicy pork, and tofu with a gluten-free marinade, and every taco is topped with Korean salad mix, crushed sesame seeds, green onions, and what he's calling secret "Seoul Sauce." Choi’s twist on tacos is something you need to try asap! Head over to 738 N Clark to get your fix.
2. Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant
Pilsen is known as one of the last places to get truly authentic Mexican food in Chicago, and Carnitas Uruapan may be the best Taqueria in Pilsen. Their menu is derived from the specific style of Mexican food you’ll find in Uruapan, Mexico, and you’ll find everything from traditional carnitas to pork brains on the menu. There’s nothing too unusual or fancy about Carnitas Uruapan, they just do simple Mexican food really well at an affordable price (only 2.75 a taco). Try a carnitas taco with chicharrones and refried beans on the side to get your fix while exploring Pilsen for a day.
3. Takito Kitchen
Located just slightly outside the heart of Wicker Park at Division and Damen, Takito Kitchen is another restaurant taking a modern, creative approach to Mexican classics. Head Chef Gustavo Urbina is the mastermind behind their menu, and you really can’t go wrong with anything on their. I started with chips and a pistachio salsa, and ended with 2 of their fish tacos (complete with a hibiscus tortilla, coconut custard, cabbage slaw, and basil toasted coconut). Overall, the atmosphere at Takito kitchen is amazing, and great music, a great crowd, and great food made for quite an experience. Don’t be afraid to get outside your routine by heading over to Takito Kitchen ASAP.
4 - El Metro
Not far away from Takito Kitchen is El Metro, a Mexican street food eatery located at 1959 W Chicago Ave in Ukrainian Village. It was founded in 2014 by the two sisters behind West Town's popular Gaudi Cafe (Betty Romo and Veronica Pineau). While they may not get as creative with their offerings as the other taquerias on our list, believe me, the tacos are just as good. Pictured above is the Taco de Chicharron which contains pork belly marinated in tomatillo sauce. A simple yet delicious taco, that will pair perfectly with any of their apps like chips and guacamole or their queso fundido.
5 - Picante
Photo: Martha Williams
Last but not least is Picant. Also located in Wicker Park at 2018 W Division, they too are a more traditional taqueria that focuses on fresh ingredients. I opted for the sweet potato al pastor taco as well as the barbacoa taco (the meat literally melts in your mouth), and both were to die for and without breaking the bank. You won’t find anything you haven’t tried before at Authentaco, beside Corn Smut maybe, but I guarantee the quality of the tacos will leave you wanting more.
In conclusion, there are a lot of mediocre taco spots in Chicago and a lot of great ones as well. Even if you’re happy with your current routine, I’d encourage you to live a little and try something new. There’s a lot of taquerias out there breaking the mold by taking a really creative, interesting approach to their tacos, and you’d be missing out if you didn’t experience all the restaurants on this list at least once. Remember, if you’d rather get your tacos delivered, you can get delivery from all of these restaurants and many more using Bootler.