Did you know Cinco de Mayo isn't actually Mexican Independence Day? Did you know if you tell people that this Sunday, they'll think you're so boring? Did you know if you instead tell them where to find the best guacamole, margs, waitresses, and other choice nuggets of wisdom, they'll be forever indebted to you? So, yeah, get this knowledge that'll actually prove useful in maximizing your Cinco de Mayo revelry.
1. Mercadito108 W Kinzie St, Chicago
2. Don Pedro Carnitas1113 W 18th St, Chicago
3. L'Patron Tacos3749 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago
4. Frontera Grill445 N Clark St, Chicago
5. Big Star1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago
6. Hub 5151 W Hubbard St, Chicago
7. Ay Chiwowa311 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
8. Masa Azul2901 W Diversey Ave, Chicago
After becoming a Mexican resto institution and favorite in NYC, Mercadito is now in Chi town and just as good. They're serving up creative, updated tacos -- pastor with grilled pineapple, chipotle-glazed pork belly -- along with some interesting guacamole alternatives, including one with mango. Best of all may be their nearly 100 tequila options, which, rest assured, go towards some crazy good margaritas.
This extremely authentic taqueria lets you order porky goodness by the pound and sample their fares while you wait for them to carve up your pig. You can also build your own tacos with their carnitas, cilantro, onions, and fresh, warm tortillas, or opt for the more adventurous route and go for their deep-fried pig brains.
If you thought you could only get decent Mexican street food south of the border, think again – for Chicagoans, it’s as easy as a trip to Logan Square. The market-driven menu at L’Patron includes highlights like carne asada and the signature la gringa, a tortilla with al pastor, Chihuahua cheese, pineapple, and a side of rice and beans. While seating is available, this counter-service taqueria is a lunch hotspot, so get there early to snag a seat and chow down.
Frontera Grill is Rick Bayless' first-established restaurant, and it serves up high-end casual Mexican fare inspired by Rick's years of delicious anthropological research South of the border. The margaritas are delectable, and there's even one you can order (the splurge margarita) that will probably leave your pockets empty but your stomach full. The authentic Mexican flavors are best enjoyed on the sidewalk patio where you can people watch.
A lot of things about Wicker Park's Big Star will make you feel like you're in Texas. First, there's the taco-centric menu that features a dozen taco varieties and necessary sides like guacamole and queso. Then there's the drink selection, which is heavy on whiskey, tequila, and craft beer. The massive outdoor patio begs for you to order a margarita and drink the day away, especially during the summer when the seasonal music series is in full swing.
With a menu that includes sushi rolls, great burgers, and a decent amount of wit ("Celebrate all you want, but we don't sing Happy Birthday."), choosing a standout from Hub 51 wasn't easy. But that doesn't mean we didn't do it -- oh, no, we did, and the winner is Hub's small but delicious selection of Mexican dishes, from their pulled chicken nachos and fish tacos to the chicken enchiladas.
Ay Chiwowa's a late-night cantina with cool graffiti decor, 80 different tequilas, and a menu with snacks like tacos and tortas.
For a tequila experience you won't forget, head to Masa Azul. This 50-seat spot serves up nearly 90 different types of tequila varieties. It's not just drinks either, Masa Azul offers great tacos, ceviche, and guac! You know what goes great with Cinco de Mayo? Honestly, any of Azul's nearly 100 tequilas. Narrowing down the list would just be foolish.