When it comes to things like margaritas or tacos, however, it’s on a whole other level thanks to Chicago’s strong Mexican roots.
A large Mexican population and a world-renowned Mexican food scene mean that we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to good taquerias in Chicago.
With more and more places offering vegetarian-friendly options alongside your stalwart classics, there is an abundance of different tacos to choose from all packed with proteins and tasty toppings meaning you can enjoy the occasion regardless of who you’re with.
Based on our own experiences at Secret Chicago, our audience’s most popular choices, and a scrupulous assessment of settings and prices, we’ve filtered through the noise to gather the most unique, reliable, and affordable places to grab tacos in Chicago.
From small corner taquerias to upscale restaurants, here are 20 of the best tacos in Chicago worth trying:
1. Antique Taco
Named one of the 50 best tacos in America, Antique Taco has built quite a reputation for itself since opening in 2012. The farmer-style tacos served up by the minority-owned & women-owned family-run business are some of the best you’ll try in the Windy City.
Chef Rick Ortiz uses the best local ingredients and serves up counter-service style tacos channeling both the Midwest with his Mexican heritage while wife and business partner Ashley Ortiz is behind the stunning space that is as colorful and extraordinary as the tacos themselves.
Tacos range from $3.50-$6.
Our top pick: Garlic Shrimp Taco
Address: 1360 N Milwaukee Avenue & 1000 W 35th Street
2. Taqueria El Asadero
The small family-run taqueria prides itself on its generational recipes that have been passed down for decades and has been providing Chicago with incredible premium Mexican food since 1993.
The majority of tacos here are $2.85 though a veggie taco is just $2.75 and the most expensive taco — the Chile Relleno — is just $3.25.
Our top pick: Carne Asada Taco (Grilled skirt steak)
Address: 2213 W Montrose Avenue, Chicago
3. Carnitas Uruapan
Founded in 1975 by Inocencio Carbajal aka “El Guero”, the authentic tacos at Carnitas Uruapan find their origin in Michoacan, Mexico, and are proudly reflective of street food found in the markets of Western Mexico.
Carnitas Uruapan dedicates itself exclusively to serving carnitas which in a taco sets you back just $2.75, though there are other tacos such as guacamole and frijoles at $3.50 as well as a few tacos dorados options.
Our top pick: Tacos De Carnitas
Address: 2813 W. 55th Street + 1725 W. 18th. Street., Chicago
4. L’ Patron Tacos
Established in 2012 by Familia Gonzalez L’ Patron is a laid-back Mexican joint offering street market-style tacos in an industrial setting. Owner Cesar Gonzalez praises his mum’s home cooking as the foundation of L’ Patron and ensures everything his butchered and prepared inhouse to keep it as fresh as possible.
A relaxing patio also makes for the perfect place to tuck into several of their tasty tacos in the open air!
All tacos are between $4.59 and $4.99 other than the Lengua/Beef Tongue taco which costs $6.39.
Our top pick: Carne Asada Taco
Address: 3749 W Fullerton Avenue, Chicago
5. Rojo Gusano
Rojo Gusano is an upscale Mexican restaurant offering creative tacos and a range of other modern Mexican eats and drinks in a recently remodeled, beach-inspired setting.
Vibrant artwork and occasional live music make it a brilliant spot for tacos any time of the day.
A large variety of tacos ranging from Korean BBQ to Charred Butternut Squash all cost $5.
Our top pick: Mixed Mushroom Taco (Taco de Hongos)
Address: 4217 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago
6. Del Seoul
The first non-Mexican spot on the list, Del Seoul provides some simply sensational Asian-inspired tacos. Another family-owned business, the no-frills counter-service eatery keeps things fresh, unique, and simple with six special tacos: BBQ Pork Taco (3.75), BBQ Chicken Taco (3.75), Sesame-Chili Shrimp Taco (3.90), Kalbi Taco (3.90), Blackened Tofu Taco vegetarian (4.25) and the Sambal Fish Taco (5.50).
Our top pick: Sesame Chili Shrimp Taco
Address: 2568 N Clark Street, Chicago
7. Big Star
With a location in Wicker Park and another in Wrigleyville (in addition to the more-recently-opened Big Star Mariscos in West Town), Big Star has no shortage of loyal fans in Chicago.
The neighborhood taco joint is renowned for its lively patios that promise a good time and the new takes on authentic Mexican street food by Executive Chef-Partner Paul Kahan and Culinary Director Chris Miller ensure the tacos are equally as entertaining.
10 different tacos, all handmade one by one in-house every day, range from $3.50 for the Papas con Rajas taco to $6.00 for the Camarones Fritos taco and the Brussels Sprouts Tostada taco.
Our top pick: Papas Con Rajas Taco
Address: 1531 N Damen Avenue & 3640 N Clark Street
8. BIG & Little’s
Though this critically-acclaimed spot does much more than Mexican food, its tacos are something special. With 14 different 100% corn tortilla tacos all at $4 each, and a hard shell Raw Ahi Tuna Taco at $6, you certainly won’t be stuck for choice.
Our top pick: The BIG & LITTLE’S Taco
Address: 1310 N Milwaukee Avenue & 1034 W Belmont Avenue
9. 5 Rabanitos
5 Rabanitos Restaurante & Taqueria is another spot found in the heart of Pilsen. The colorful exterior with Mexican-themed murals makes it an unmissable Pilsen taqueria and once you’ve tried any of the Mexican cuisine by Chef Alfonso Sotelo inside you’ll certainly be coming back for more!
Tacos including Al Pastor, Barbacoa, Carnitas, Chorizo, Cochinita Pibil, Roasted Vegetables, and Chicken Tinga are all $3.75 while “Special Tacos” at 5 Rabanitos such as Goat Adobo, Grilled-Chicken Adobo, Pork Belly Chorizo and Vegetariano all cost $4.50.
Our top pick: Grilled Chicken Adobo Taco
Address: 1758 W 18th Street, Chicago
10. Carnitas Don Pedro
Carnitas Don Pedro is an esteemed spot that has been a constant in the Pilsen neighborhood since it first opened its doors back in 1981. Pedro Duarte, aka Don Pedro himself, ensures that the quality of Mexican food here never drops below phenomenal.
It is an establishment with a real sense of family and another family-owned business that focuses on carnitas harnessing generational recipes.
Our top pick: Taco De Carnitas
Address: 1113 W 18th Street, Chicago
11. Rubi’s at 18th Street
Continuously recognized as having the best tacos in Chicago, the husband-and-wife team of Ramirez and Landa first began selling tacos in the Maxwell Street Market in 1997. Experiencing lines of people desperate for delicious tacos that would stretch around the block, the family-run business battled its popularity for over two decades before it could not operate during the pandemic.
It was its incredibly loyal fanbase that then helped it cling to life; however, thanks to social media keeping sales flowing, the tacos lived on, and at the end of 2021, Rubi’s Tacos finally opened its first permanent establishment at 1316 W. 18th St. in Pilsen.
At $5 each, the tacos are slightly more expensive than some of the others on this list, but we guarantee you’ll be forgetting all about the price once they’re in front of you.
Our top pick: El Taco Azteca (Al Pastor con huevo)
Address: 800 S Desplaines St, Chicago
12. Birrieria Zaragoza
With the intention of bringing a bit of his hometown La Barca in the West Mexican state of Jalisco to Chicago Juan Zaragoza led behind a career in customer service, sold his house, and rented out a five-table storefront in Archer Heights which he opened as Birrieria Zaragoza with his family in 2007.
Juan’s wife Carolina Rodriguez and their son Jonathan Zaragoza who is the Executive Chef of Birrieria Zaragoza and a recent winner of StarChefs’ “Rising Star Award”, make up the team at Birreria Zaragoza.
Four different delicious tacos have since been on offer here namely Birria Taco ($4.50), Goat Head Taco ($5.50), Quesabirria Taco Dorado ($5.75), and Tripe & Stomach Taco ($6.25).
Our top pick: Taco de Birria
Address: 4852 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago
13. La Chaparrita
Little Village’s La Chaparrita is a hidden gem in Chicago tucked inside a grocery store off the main drag of 26th Street offering outstanding tacos to those in the know. With a handful of tables, it’s a wonderful little esoteric authentic spot for anybody in the area and a change from some of the more swamped taquerias.
11 different tacos range in price from $3 for the Suadero taco to $4.25 for an Asada taco.
Our top pick: Crispy Tripa Taco
Address: 2500 S Whipple Street, Chicago
14. Los Comales
A long-time fixture in the Little Village Community, Los Comales this year celebrates a whopping 50 years in Chicagoland, having first opened as a small taco stand-style restaurant in Little Village in 1973.
Founded by Patriarch Camerino Gonzalez, Los Comales was one of the first taquerías in Chicago and its heritage shows.
You’ll find 10+ different tacos served at numerous locations around Chicagoland today, though of course, we recommend heading to the original in Little Village.
Our top pick: Taco Ranchero
Address: 3141 W 26th St, Chicago (though now there are several Chicago locations)
Tacotlan is a wonderful spot owned by father-daughter combo Everardo Macias and Jessica Perjes. After Everardo’s first venture El Ponchado was somehow not as fruitful as expected in the 90’s, he opened Tacotlan alongside his daughter in 2018 at the same location El Ponchado once resided.
Partnering up with her father to ensure his next restaurant reaped the just rewards of their talent, today Tacotlan is one of the most beloved Mexican restaurants in Chicagoland, serving up exquisite Mexican staples like tacos, burritos, and birria.
Jessica’s advertising and marketing skills have thankfully brought the Tacotlan experience to everybody when it may have otherwise gone noticed, and thank god it didn’t.
Though today it is well known for its incredible quesabirrias which have become the top-seller of the restaurant, they also have the best tacos in Chicago, which are inevitably all incredible. Prices range from $3.75 for the Taco Chorizo or the Taco Pollo to the Lalo’s On The Beach Taco at $10.50 served with outer skirt steak, shrimp, lettuce, tomatoes and aguacate and chipotle salsas.
Our top pick: Lalo’s Taco
Address: 4312 W Fullerton Ave, ChicagoView the Tacotlan menu.
16. Paco’s Tacos/La Internacional
It’s simple yet so delicious. This hole-in-the-wall Mexican taco joint is in the back of a grocery store that serves the type of tacos you would find in Mexico City. With four main ingredients: meat, onion, cilantro, and salsa, it’s no wonder people are repeat customers and why it’s deemed having the best tacos in Chicago.
Our top pick: Carne Asada Taco
Address: 4556 S. Ashland Ave, 4311 S. Archer Rd., and 6034 S. Pulaski Rd.
17. La Lagartija Taqueria
If you’re heading to a concert or game at the United Center, stop here for some of the best tacos in Chicago. Located in Chicago around Fulton Market and West Loop, next to the Mexican Consulate, La Lagartija Taqueria brings a fresh take on authentic street food with build-your-own-tacos.
Our top pick: Shrimp Taco
Address: 132 S Ashland Avenue, Chicago
18. Mi Tocaya Antojería
Mi Tocaya, also known as “my namesake” in Spanish, is commonly used as a term of endearment when someone has the same name as oneself, and it’s why Chef Diana Davila chose Mi Tocaya Antojería as the name. The thoughtfully composed menu features a few delicious tacos, including the Fried Oyster Taco.
Our top pick: Fried Oyster Taco
Address: 2800 W Logan Blvd, Chicago
19. Taqueria El Milagro
If you want a fresh tortilla that you will be thinking about for days, head to Taqueria El Milagro. This is another spot where you can build your own tacos—down from the type of meat to whether you want a corn or wheat tortilla. Taqueria El Milagro has the best tacos in Chicago if you’re looking for a quick and easy takeout place.
Our top pick: Grilled Steak Taco
Address: 3050 W 26th Street, Chicago
20. Velvet Taco
This chain is found nationwide and has three places in Chicago. Known for its out-of-box tacos, like Chicken & Waffles, the Smash Burger, and their weekly WTF taco, they are surprisingly tender with a sauce that makes your taste buds explode.
Our top pick: Spicy Tikka Chicken Taco
Address: 910 W Randolph Street & 1110 N. State Street
[Featured image of courtesy of Carnitas Uruapan]