Tzuco

Exterior
Exterior
Bar
Bar
Interior
Interior
Patio
Patio

**** (4 stars)

We loved Carol Guytan's original one-star Michelin, Mexique, so I was hoping for similar finesse and subtlety at Tzuco. While Tzuco also thinks outside the regular Mexican restaurant box, it's not the same creative culinary experience. Admittedly, we wnet for bruch, which can always seem a bit pedestrian, but we avoided the traditional brunch dishes and concentrated on the more Mexican-influenced items.

The guacamole and ceviche we just okay, but the Mushroom Cazuela and Tsuco Shakshuka were both noteworthy. The various tacos (masa) were also okay. If I go back I would try the pibil and the chilaquiles.

The margaritas were very good. Ask for anejo tequila for some extra flavor. My favorite item was actually the Horchata Latte!

Tzuco
720 N State St
Chicago, IL 60654

https://www.yelp.com/biz/tzuco-chicago

Buena Vista

Exterior
Exterior
Interior
Interior
Free chips and salsa
Free chips and salsa
Beef nachos
Beef nachos
Mixed Enchiladas
Mixed Enchiladas
Tamale
Tamale

**** (4 stars)

This little space on Broadway features very good Mexican American food in a low-key environment. They do a bustling to-go business, and also have a handful of tables.

The nachos were good, and almost like chili on refried bean-covered chips, served with a corn tortilla cop of sour cream and guacamole.

The mole sauce is quite good.

Perhaps our favorite item was the tamale, which was definitely the most authentic Mexican preparation of anything we tried.

Food prep is very fast, and service is friendly. It's BYOB.

Buena Vista
3147 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657

https://www.yelp.com/biz/buena-vista-chicago

Barcocina – Chicago

Bar
Bar
Patio
Patio
Exterior
Exterior
Barcocina Guacamole
Barcocina Guacamole
Queso Fundido
Queso Fundido
Cordon Bleu Quesadilla
Cordon Bleu Quesadilla
Snapper Ceviche Bites
Snapper Ceviche Bites
Firecracker shrimp
Firecracker shrimp
Korean short ribs and tuna poke tacos
Korean short ribs and tuna poke tacos
Churro empanadas
Churro empanadas

**** (4 stars)

Excellent food, boisterous atmosphere. Extensive outside seating would be quieter, if you're sure it won't rain, as they can't reseat you. Table seating is limited to 90 minutes. Half price cocktail and guacamole before 6pm.

Now that the rules are out of the way, the food is quite tasty. Guacamole was better than the Queso Fundido, which didn't have enough chorizo.

Snapper ceviche bites and firecracker shrimp were both great. Cordon Bleu Quesadilla was so unexpected, it ended up being my favorite, even though it wasn't remotely Mexican food: ham, chicken and cheese, with a honey mustard dipping sauce!

Tuna Poke Tacos and Korean Short Rib tacos were also excellent.

Churro Empanadas needed something like ice cream or a spicy sauce to offset the cloying sweetness.

Service was very responsive, and the kitchen and bar are fast.

Barcocina – Chicago
2901 N Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

https://www.yelp.com/biz/barcocina-chicago-chicago

Mixteco Mexican Grill

Exterior
Exterior
Interior
Interior

***** (5 stars)

This counter-serve place is a lot better than many of the sit down Mexican restaurants in the area.

Nachos are particularly good, with a hearty serving of real cheese and plenty of jalapenos.

The fire-grilled quesadilla is also excellent, but beware that the habanero sauce is not messing around!

I also really enjoyed the Al Pastor toca prepared in authentic Mexican style. I prefer my Pastor without pineapple chunks, which is how this is made.

Service was friendly and everything was prepared to order quickly.

Mixteco Mexican Grill
847 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 904-9723
https://www.yelp.com/biz/mixteco-mexican-grill-chicago-3

El Jardin

Exterior
Exterior
Interior
Interior
Chilaquiles Breakfast
Chilaquiles Breakfast
Enchiladas
Enchiladas

*** (3 stars)

This place is divided into a number of varied seating areas, including dining rooms, a bar, and a garden.

The margaritas all seem to be made with lemon juice rather than lime, which is odd; I needed to order a shot of Cointreau to restore the balance.

The appetizers were the best part of our meal. We ordered the nachos without the beans. As described, they came with exactly seven large tortilla chips! They also come with a dab of guacamole, so we really didn’t need the extra order of guacamole, but it was good.

The entrees were less exciting. Chicken enchiladas had a rather odd flavor, and the contents seemed to be ground up. Chilaquiles were also unusual, in that instead of being topped with a fried egg there was a scrambled egg mixed in; the chile verde sauce was good, though.

Service was not particularly attentive considering we were the only table seated for Thursday lunch.

El Jardin
3335 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 528-6775
https://www.yelp.com/biz/el-jardin-chicago

Cesar’s Killer Margaritas – Clark

Interior
Interior
Nachos
Nachos

***** (5 stars)

While the emphasis in the name is on the drinks, the food here is good, too. The free chips are delicious, really crisp and with a strong toasted corn flavor, and the accompanying salsa has lots of cilantro.

The nacho starter was good, if not my favorite style.

Fish tacos were excellent, with grilled fish in double corn tortilla wrappers. The black beans that came with it were some of the best I've had. I also tasted the refried beans, which I normally prefer, but these black beans were amazingly complex and flavorful.

Of course margaritas are the highlight, and there are a dozen to choose from. We went with a pitcher of the Cadillac, a standard lime margarita plus Gran Marnier.

The service was good, and the ambiance is relaxed.

Cesar’s Killer Margaritas – Clark
3166 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 248-2835
https://www.yelp.com/biz/cesars-killer-margaritas-clark-chicago-2

La Casa De Isaac & Moishe

Interior

Bar

Exterior

Chiles Rellenos

Enchiladas

Duck tacos

**** (4 stars)

This is a pleasant family style restaurant serving all the standard Tex-Mex dishes. The place is surprising large, with the dimmer, more intimate area being on the bar side. They did a great job with the decor and acoustic treatments.

La Casa De Isaac & Moishe
2014 1st St
Highland Park, IL 60035
(847) 433-7400
https://www.yelp.com/biz/la-casa-de-isaac-and-moishe-highland-park-2

Pink Taco

Cadillac Margarita

Menu

Interior

Pink tacos

House salad and corn

***** (5 stars)

This is my favorite taco place in River North, and I think I’ve tried just about all of them.

I started with the Cadillac Margarita, which came with a float of Gran Marnier. It was more than a float–it was an entire small bottle! The drink was excellent, but I don’t like my margaritas to be too sweet, so I added some limes to make it perfect.

A great place to start exploring the menu is the pink tacos, after all, they’re the restaurant’s supposed namesake (although we all know better). They were terrific. Obviously handmade corn tortillas were topped with a complex, slightly spicy chicken mixture and marinated onions with a slight habanero kick.

Note that you don’t have to get three of the same taco, although the menu sort of implies this. At $15 for three pink tacos at lunch they were worth it, particularly considering the two generous sides. I had the very good house salad, and an off-menu item recommended by my waitress, a half serving of the off-the-cob street corn, which was in a wonderfully savory cream sauce.

You might assume from its trendy interior that it would have a deafening soundtrack, but actually the music level is just right, at least at lunchtime, and the song choices are terrific.

Service is very attentive, and my server made great recommendations.

Highly recommended.

Pink Taco
431 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 212-5566
https://www.yelp.com/biz/pink-taco-chicago-2

El Cholo

Interior

***** (5 stars)

I’ve been going to El Cholo on Western since I was a child, and it defines Mexican food for me, even if their idea isn’t perfectly aligned with what has come to be known as Tex-Mex, and even if it’s not all authentic Mexican either. I love it.

This location is just as good, if lacking a bit of the small house ambiance. Have a number 1 and original nachos. You won’t be sorry.

El Cholo
1025 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 899-1106
https://www.yelp.com/biz/el-cholo-santa-monica-2