From authentic eats to Tex-Mex cuisine, here’s our list of the top nine Mexican restaurants in Chicago.
Nosh on Barrio's sustainably sourced shared plates.
Serving up a creative take on traditional Mexican cuisine, Top Chef alum Katsuji Tanabe crafts shared plates with locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. Nosh on grilled octopus tacos with sea salt potato crisps or opt for the tuna ceviche tacos with a side of esquites-style corn. The resto offers a bottomless brunch on the weekends (try the churro breakfast sandwich), or snag a spot on the patio with your pooch—order off the “doggy menu” and a portion of the proceeds with be donated to PAWS Chicago. 65 W. Kinzie St.
Husband-and-wife chef team Brian Enyart and Jennifer Jones Enyart met while working under master chefs Rick Bayless (see two of his restos listed below) and Charlie Trotter. Together, the duo opened Dos Urban Cantina, embracing contemporary flavors inspired by the bold flavors and ingredients in Mexico. Snag a seat in the dining room to sample electric entrees, or hit the taqueria for some takeout—the carne asada tacos are to die for. 2829 W. Armitage Ave.
From James Beard Award-nominated chef Diana Davila, Mi Tocaya means “my namesake” in Spanish. Chef Davila's menu features a progression of small, medium and large plates composed of her takes on familiar Mexican favorites, lesser-known regional specialties and completely new dishes inspired by her heritage. Take your time ordering—the menu features thoughtful commentary on the nature and inspiration of each dish. 2800 W Logan Blvd.
A quick-service Mexican cafe from Rick and Dean Bayless, XOCO offers contemporary versions of the country’s beloved snacks and street food—think flaky empanadas, frothy Mexican hot chocolate and tasty churros. Try the tlayuda, an iconic Oaxacan dish with a wood-fired corn masa tostada with Samuel’s Jack cheese, tomatillo salsa, poblano rajas, anejo cheese and a black bean spread. 449 N. Clark St.
Hardwood fire at Leña Brava
Leña Brava celebrates classic Mexican dishes cooked over hardwood fire. The tomahawk rib-eye—basted with beef fat and Oaxacan pasilla-porcini “steak sauce”—is a fan fave, while the wood-fired oysters and Pacifico striped bass are perfect for seafood lovers. Don’t forget to check out the curated mezcal and agave menu. 900 W. Randolph St.
Head over to Lonesome Rose for the ultimate all-day breakfast burrito and tempting margaritas made with agave nectar and hand-squeezed lime. The menu boasts all the classics: empanadas, tacos, rice bowls, burritos and more. Plus, basement bar Golden Teardrops is open for evening cocktails Thursday through Saturday, while the Lonesome Rose Market lets you stock up on cheese dip, guacamole, specialty salsas and more. 2101 N. California Ave.
Now helmed by executive chef Jonathan Zaragoza, the family-owned resto was founded by John Zaragoza after he traveled back to his birthplace, La Barca, Jalisco, to learn to make birria—tender stewed goat accompanied by diced onions, cilantro and housemade salsa. And here, that’s all there is on the menu. Served bone-in, with tortillas and consomme or in a taco, this tantalizing dish is a must-try. 4852 S. Pulaski Road
For almost 50 years, Chicagoans have traveled to Pilsen to delight in authentic Uruapan carnitas. Here, the treasured family recipe is followed to the tee, remaining unmodified and true to its heritage. Diners also snack on pork carnitas, chicharrones and tacos dorados fried with a choice of potato, chorizo and spicy pork brain fillings. The resto's recent expansion to Gage Park is sure to be a huge hit with the city crowd. 1725 W. 18th St., Pilsen; 2813 W. 55th St., Gage Park
James Beard Award-winning chef Rick Bayless has been digging deep into the culinary landscape of Mexico for many years. At sophisticated Topolobampo, he goes even further, offering a tasting menu experience with top-notch wine pairings and reserve spirits. 445 N. Clark St.
Photography by: REBECCA PEPLINSKI; ALLIE FASZCZEWSKI