Put down the pizza, and the hot dogs, and the Italian beefs -- dude, just for a minute, you can pick them back up when we're done -- and direct your attention toward the taco. From the Mom-and-Pop, Spanish-speaking spots all the way up to the many designer taco shops that rule the social media world, we've got lots to offer. Here's a favorite from each neighborhood:

Titus Ruscitti

Albany Park 

Taqueria San Matias (address and info)
What you're getting: Taco alambre
This little Madre-y-Padre taqueria puts out one of the best regional tacos on the North Side. Finely diced steak joins bacon, sautéed bell peppers, and melted cheese to make one of the greatest taco combinations known to Chicago man.
 

Archer Heights

Birrieria Zaragoza (address and info)
What you're getting: Birria taco
Baby goat never tasted so sweet. This regional style of the more well-known barbacoa was brought to Chicago by the namesake Zaragoza family. The goat gets a long steam and is then rubbed with a ancho-mole sauce before being baked. The end result is one of the city's great culinary treasures, served on sturdy homemade tortillas strong enough to handle the juicy meat. Try them with the red fire-roasted salsa to get the full effect.

Titus Ruscitti

Avondale 

Taqueria La Zacatecana (address and info)
What you're getting: Carne asada
Tucked away on a residential corner is this taqueria that's popular with both locals and folks driving by en route elsewhere. Tender skirt steak takes a turn on the grill before getting chopped up and thrown into a tortilla. Make sure to use the salsa verde -- it goes great with their grilled steak. 

Titus Ruscitti

Bridgeport

Tacos Erendira (address and info)
What you're getting: Guisado de puerco taco
Guisados (aka stews) are often used to make tacos. One of the better offerings in Chicagoland comes from this South Side favorite. Chunks of pork butt are simmered in a red chile sauce until they're fall-apart tender. It's one of my favorite tacos in Chicago, especially on a cold winter day.

Titus Ruscitti

Bucktown

Estrella Negra (address and info)
What you're getting: Breakfast tacos
We don't do breakfast tacos like Austin, TX -- then again, no one does. Still, there are some worthy options for tacos in the morning. Sitting at the front of the line would be the bacon, egg, and cheese offerings from this cute little BYOB hidden just East of Western on Fullerton. It's a great place to kill a too-much-whiskey-last-night-headache on the cheap.

Titus Ruscitti

East Village 

Authentaco (address and info)
What you're getting: Huitlacoche taco
This semi-new stop specializing in, uh, authentic tacos offers a handful-plus of guisado (stewed meat) options. The corn smut -- which doesn't sound too appealing, so they choose to call it by its Spanish name, huitlacoche -- is what you're gonna want to get; a savory, smokey, earthy, easily-adjective-able umami bomb served on handmade tortillas by the ladies in the window.

Titus Ruscitti

Edgewater

Cookies & Carnitas (address and info)
What you're getting: Carnitas
If Edgewater ever becomes hip, give some credit to these guys for the movement. Originally of Green City Market fame, they're getting in on Chicago's newest culinary tradition: top-notch, designer tacos. Unlike many others around town, these come loaded.
 

Humboldt Park

Cemitas Puebla (address and info)
What you're getting: Tacos Arabes
One of the signature Mexican restaurants in a great dining city. And while it can be hard to not order a namesake sandwich, two tacos for lunch can be just as good. Marinated pork is stacked tall on a vertical spit and cooked until crispy, then it's sliced off and placed in a pillow-like tortilla thats able to hold everything together as you savor each and every bite. Not to mention their smokey chipotle salsa is one of the best in the city.

Titus Ruscitti

Irving Park 

El Potosi (address and info)
What you're getting: Chorizo and egg taco
This small Mom-and-Pop taco shack looks like it belongs somewhere along the Southern California coast. Sometimes you just need a quick fix, and they offer that in their chorizo and egg taco. Fresh Mexican chorizo gets crisped up before a few eggs are mixed in. Much better than a McMuffin.
 

Lakeview

BIG & little's (address and info)
What you're getting: Samurai taco
Everyone has their own favorite from here. Mine is the Samurai, which comes with fried whitefish, jalapeños, lettuce, and their special Samurai sauce. It's then topped with lime juice and sesame seed and makes for one of the better fusion tacos in town.

Titus Ruscitti

Lincoln Park

Del Seoul (address and info)
What you're getting: Sambal fish taco
Is this the best fish taco in Chicago? Maybe? Especially since it always comes with a perfectly fried hunk of tempura-battered fish that's topped with pickled red onions, Napa slaw, and their signature spicy sambal sauce. Not all fusion tacos are created equally.
 

Lincoln Square

La Cabana de Don Luis (address and info)
What you're getting: Bistek con rajas
If you like spice, then this one is for you. Tender marinated strips of steak are stir fried alongside sautéed strips of jalapeño and onion. A very tasty taco.
 

Little Italy/University Village 

De Pasada (address and info)
What you're getting: Carne Asada Super Taco
As the neighborhood continues to shift from Italian to college kids mixed with nurses and doctors, the food selection expands. The Super Tacos are loaded with carne asada and topped with everything. These are best consumed after a night of barhopping up and down Taylor -- it's big with the college kids.

Titus Ruscitti

Little Village

Taqueria Los Barrilitos (address and info)
What you're getting: Taco al pastor
One of the great taco pockets in the city makes it hard to pick just one, but the tacos al pastor here are one of the most crave-worthy items in Chicago. Perfectly seasoned bits of meat are shaved off as you order. Pro tip: top it with some of their house-pickled onion with habanero to take it to the next level.
 

Logan Square

L'Patron (address and info)
What you're getting: Shrimp taco
It's hard to choose just one taco off the menu here, but you'll find yourself going back for their fantastic representations of fish tacos -- both the shrimp and the fish are heavenly. The fresh fried seafood packed into homemade tortillas exemplifies why tacos have become one of America's favorites.
 

Mount Greenwood

La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant (address and info)
What you're getting: Taco Sombrero
This far South Side favorite has a few interesting taco options on its menu, including the Sombrero. It's made with steak that's simmered in a spicy sauce, bacon, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro. The tortilla gets a little dip in red enchilada sauce, making for a very pleasing taco with real spice in each bite.

Titus Ruscitti

Near West Side 

La Lagartija Taqueria (address and info)
What you're getting: Shrimp taco
It's Bulls/Blackhawks season. If you're heading to a game at the United Center and need to eat beforehand, the shrimp tacos here are some of the better crustacean tacos you'll come across. Three pieces get a dip in a Negro Modelo batter before being perfectly fried. When you're wishing you were at that little oceanside taco shack you visited in Mexico, but instead have to go to work all week -- that's another good time to head here for a quick fix.

Titus Ruscitti

North Center

Taqueria El Asadero (address and info)
What you're getting: Carne asada
What separates the steak tacos here from most of the city's other options? The fact that they always grill strips of skirt steak to order, making them juicer than the rest of the competition.
 

Norwood Park

Mom's Old Recipe Mexican Restaurant (address and info)
What you're getting: Tacos acorazados
These tacos are a specialty in both Cuernavaca, Mexico and on the menu here. Two homemade, open-faced corn tortillas are topped with rice and strips of breaded steak, and come served with special potatoes made with jalapeño peppers. Topped with a creamy honey chipotle mayo, the only challenge is eating these without a knife and fork.

Titus Ruscitti

Pilsen

Carnitas Uruapan (address and info)
What you're getting: Carnitas taco
This Pilsen stalwart has been going strong since it first opened in 1975. The goal was to bring the authentic style of carnitas made in Uruapan, Mexico to Chicago, and a generation later this spot still welcomes legions of new fans with their fried-to-perfection goodness.

Titus Ruscitti

Portage Park

El Taco Feliz (address and info)
What you're getting: Cochinita
The cochinita served here isn't of the pibil variety that most people are used to. Instead, it's a cochinita estilo Guerrero. Five different types of dried chiles marinate a pork roast which cooks until it's fall-apart tender. It's the first meat mentioned in the taco section of the menu. It's also the owner's Grandma's famous recipe, which she used to sell street-side back in Guerrero. The final result is both sweet and spicy.

Titus Ruscitti

River North

GT Fish & Oyster (address and info)
What you're getting: Fish tacos
While not a Mexican restaurant, it does sell lots of fish, so it's fitting that the fish tacos be our winner. While the fish used can vary, the crispy chicharrĂłn toppings always give each bite some crunch. 

Titus Ruscitti

Rogers Park 

Rocky's Tacos (address and info)
What you're getting: Tacos pioneros
The specialty tacos from this torta-driven spot can be quite satisfying... if you're even feeling up to the challenge. Steak, bacon, and ham sit atop a literal bed of cheese, joined by grilled onions and cactus. You'll get this served in platter form ($10) with rice and beans, plus tortillas on the side. It's pretty much the same style as alambres. A little research shows that this dish may have originated at a popular food stop in Michoacán, Mexico called Taqueria Pioneros.
 

Uptown

Carmela's Taqueria (address and info)
What you're getting: Tacos al pastor
The first sign you should be looking for when it comes to good al pastor is a trompo spinning with marinated pork meat on it. And Carmela's has exactly that.

Titus Ruscitti

Ukrainian Village 

Taqueria Traspasada (address and info)
What you're getting: Suadero taco
The second outlet of this restaurant almost always has steady business, no matter what hour of the day. There are lots of ways to go, but the move here is the steak suadero taco. Made with chunks of beef from a different part of the cow than the standard skirt steak, the end result features a smoothly textured meat with a crispy exterior.
 

West Loop

Bar Takito (address and info)
What you're getting: Fish tacos
The newest outpost from the ever-expanding Takito empire features an upscale modern take on fresh Mexican cooking. Look no further than the fish tacos, served on a house-made herb tortilla. Paired with kimchi, crispy rice, and avocado, they take on some modern Asian flair without hiding the freshness of the fish.

Titus Ruscitti

West Lawn

Zacatacos (address and info)
What you're getting: Steak tacos
The first location, of what's now a handful, opened up in 1996. To this day the steak is still being cooked the same way -- over open flames before being loaded into a tortilla. The fact that there's most always foot traffic means your steak won't be sitting for long after it's finished grilling -- resulting in a worthy taco for this list.
 

Wicker Park 

Antique Taco (address and info)
What you're getting: Pork carnitas
In the land of designer tacos, these are maybe the best. Well-fried hunks of pork are rubbed with a tamarind glaze and topped with bacon, spinach, onion, and queso.

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Titus Ruscitti is a contributing writer for Thrillist and the man behind Chicago Taco Tour. You can join him on his taco-specific travels throughout the cityscape there, or his general food ones on his blog, where he's single-handedly tackled close to 1,000 food stops. Follow him @chibbqking.

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1. Taqueria San Matias 3005 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (Near North Side)

Any place that's serving up different types of combined meats and cooking it all together with bacon, diced peppers, and lots of cheese (known as alambres), is the place you want to be. Luckily, Taqueria San Matias is doing the delicious deed, but in taco form; the Taco Alambres are delicious, unique, and a steady source of returning customers.

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2. Birrieria Zaragoza 4852 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60632 (South Chicago)

This cozy South Side counter-serve is owned by a friendly family that's bringing Chicago a beloved regional specialty from Jalisco, Mexico: spicy, braised goat, or "birria." The grass-fed, locally sourced goat is the one and only meat you'll find in this unfussy, orange-accented space, where it's served in tacos, quesadillas, and by-the-pound. The move is to order a large plate of birria, swimming in a tomato-based consomme and served with freshly made tortillas and hot fire-roasted salsa on the side.

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3. Taqueria La Zacatecana 3024 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (Avondale)

This taqueria serves great carne asada tacos that you should definitely get with the salsa verde.

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4. Tacos Erendira 3207 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608 (Bridgeport Sox)

This is a Chicago favorite that offers mouth watering pork stew, chicken, and steak tacos. Don't miss their salsa either.

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5. Estrella Negra 2346 W Fullerton, Chicago, IL 60647 (Wicker Park)

A veggie-friendly Mexican spot with killer goat cheese quesadillas and a BYOB option.

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6. Authentaco 1141 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

With a focus on traditional ingredients, Felipe Caro (of Picante and Delish Diner) brings authentic Mexican fare to Wicker Park at this modern spot on North Ashland.

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7. Cookies & Carnitas 5759 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60660 (Edgewater)

Cookies & Carnitas serve exactly what you think they would... plus sandwiches, pizza, tacos, salads, and the Dirk Diggler: an obscenely long, specially made kosher dog served with Mexican-style relish.

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8. Cemitas Puebla 3619 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Humboldt Park)

Cemitas Puebla is known for those eponymous sandwiches, and other traditional Mexican dishes and pastries round out the menu.

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9. El PotosĂ­ 3710 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (Irving Park)

This Irving Park mom and pop taco shack looks like it belongs somewhere along a Southern California coast. Sometimes you just need a quick fix and they offer that in all of their tasty (and cheap!) tacos. Pro tip: go for the chorizo and egg number.

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10. BIG & little's 860 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60610 (Near North Side)

BIG & little's is Chicago's one-stop wonder for fish 'n chips. There are also po'boys, truffle fries, burgers, and.... need we keep going? Just get there.

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11. Del Seoul 2568 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

Inspired by the Korean taco craze that's become a food truck staple across the land, DS is bringing that street ethos to a takeout-focused brick 'n mortar joint covered in food cart-esque sheet metal and three flat-screens touting the menu, so finally TVs'll actually help you stuff your face in front of them.

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12. La Cabana De Don Luis 5157 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (Lincoln Square)

If you like spice, then this Lincoln Square spot is for you. They feature a variety of Mexican faves -- marinated to perfection -- from tacos and tortas, to enchiladas and fajitas.

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13. De Pasada 1517 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607

The must-try item at De Pasada in University Village is the Super Taco, loaded with carne asada and topped with everything. These are best consumed after a night of barhopping up and down Taylor.

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14. Taqueria Los Barrilitos 3518 W 25th St, Chicago, IL 60623

Little Village's Taqueria Los Barrilitos is one of Chicago's best taco spots; their tacos al pastor are one of the most crave-worthy items in the city. Perfectly seasoned bits of meat get shaved off as you order. Pro tip: Top it with some of their house-made pickled onion with habanero to take it to the next level.

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15. L'Patron Tacos 3749 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

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.

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16. La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant 3333 W 111th St, Chicago, IL 60655

This far South Side favorite has a few interesting taco options on its menu, including the Sombrero. It's made with steak that's simmered in a spicy sauce, bacon, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro. The tortilla gets a little dip in red enchilada sauce, making for a very pleasing taco with real spice in each bite.

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17. La Lagartija Taqueria 132 S Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60607

If you're heading to a game at the United Center and need to eat beforehand, the shrimp tacos here are some of the better crustacean tacos you'll come across. Three pieces get a dip in a Negro Modelo batter before being perfectly fried. When you're wishing you were at that little oceanside taco shack you visited in Mexico, but instead have to go to work all week -- that's another good time to head here for a quick fix.

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18. Mom's Old Recipe Mexican Restaurant 5760 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60646 (Norwood Park)

Come to Mom's Old Recipe for the tacos acorazados. Two homemade, open-faced corn tortillas are topped with rice and strips of breaded steak, and come served with special potatoes made with jalapeño peppers. Topped with a creamy honey chipotle mayo, the only challenge is eating these without a knife and fork.

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19. Carnitas Uruapan 1725 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608 (Pilsen)

You can find carnitas at almost every Mexican supermarket and taqueria in town, but when you want the real thing, head over to Pilsen and enjoying them at this family-owned spot that has basically nothing else on their menu.

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20. El Taco Feliz Taqueria 5439 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60641 (Portage Park)

Fresh ingredients used in dishes made from scratch result in deliciousness like the cochinita estilo Guerrero. Five different types of dried chiles marinate a pork roast which cooks until it's fall-apart tender. It's the first meat mentioned in the taco section of the menu. It's also the owner's Grandma's famous recipe, which she used to sell street-side back in Guerrero. The final result is both sweet and spicy.

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21. GT Fish & Oyster 531 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654 (Near North Side)

Helmed by Michelin-starred chef Guiseppe Tentori, this fine dining restaurant in River North is the place to go for anything seafood-related. GT serves fish shack-style eats like lobster rolls, fish and chips, and oyster po' boys alongside way more luxurious items like caviar and seafood towers. The beautifully-designed space includes a date-worthy oyster bar and a private dining room with a whale mural. Though Friday and Saturday nights are GT's peak hours, the restaurant has stellar weekday lunch and weekend brunch service.

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22. Rocky's Tacos 7043 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60626

The specialty tacos from this torta-driven spot can be quite satisfying... if you're even feeling up to the challenge. Steak, bacon, and ham sit atop a literal bed of cheese, joined by grilled onions and cactus. You'll get this served in platter form ($10) with rice and beans, plus tortillas on the side.

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23. Carmela's Taqueria 1206 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60640 (Uptown)

The first sign you should be looking for when it comes to good al pastor is a trompo spinning with marinated pork meat on it. And Carmela's has exactly that.

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24. Taqueria Traspasada 811 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Avondale)

This Avondale spot might not look like much from the outside, but once you bite into their chicharron burrito with salsa verde, nothing else matters.

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25. Bar Takito 201 N Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

Takito Kitchen’s Latin-inspired spin-off flaunts a lengthy concrete bar and graffiti decor by local street artists. The house-made tortillas infused with Negro freaking Modelo are a must-try.

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26. Zacatacos 3949 W 71st St, Chicago, IL 60629 (South Chicago)

This West Lawn spot has authentic Mexican grub, with an old-school vibe.

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27. Antique Taco 1360 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Antique Taco's a brick-n-mortar mash-up of an upscale taqueria and a Cracker Barrel, sporting barnwood tables, mismatched china and, of course, for-sale antiques ranging from glassware to old Jays potato chip tins. The fare includes housemade tortillas with Slagel Farm ribeye and boozy agua fresca.

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