Let’s face it — Mondays can be rough. But fast forward to what will come in just 24 hours — i.e. Taco Tuesday — and even the most drab of office tasks are suddenly more tolerable (expense reports, anyone?). Credit that mid-week buzz to fun, flavorful fare, Latin-inspired tunes, and, of course, serious tequila selections. From a neighborhood institution in River North to a modern Mexican mainstay in Lakeview, here are the best places to visit now for south-of-the-border eats, drinks, and vibes.Read More
Where to Celebrate Taco Tuesday in Chicago
Lakeview crowds head to this bustling corner spot for familiar Mexican cuisine with clever, global twists, from Korean short rib or truffled mushroom tacos to bacon guacamole and Thai chicken quesadillas. The bar team’s Latin-inspired libations are just as fun — the Beast of Burden is a smoky and bright medley of mezcal, passion fruit, and ginger beer, while the on-tap House Party features silver tequila, triple sec, and lime. Enjoy it all on the 4,000-square-foot patio while the entertainment picks up — on Tuesdays, drink purchases earn guests entry for a designer purse raffle, while more than $250 in gift cards are shared throughout the week.
Su Casa Mexican Restaurant
This restaurant opened its doors in 1963, making it an institution in Chicago’s downtown dining district. Bring an appetite, and a group — you’ll want both for sizeable portions of south-of-the-border staples. Go big with the deluxe combo, a platter of the team’s most prized plates, including carne asada, chile rellenos, and chicken enchiladas. Accompany all of it with a round of Rolls Royce margaritas (silver tequila, orange liqueur, and lemon-lime juice) and be sure to order them from cocktail stalwart Humberto — he’s been tending bar here since the ‘80s.
Located in an eye-catching stone and glass building in the city’s vibrant River North neighborhood, Cantina Laredo is a go-to for locals and out-of-towners alike seeking modern Mexican fare. It’s here where chef Damon Workman showcases his passion for from-scratch cooking techniques and super fresh ingredients, as evidenced in dishes like tableside guacamole, steak fajitas with charred corn and avocado, and ahi tuna tacos with ginger slaw and jicama. Arrive early to take advantage of their outdoor stone fire pit space — best enjoyed with a round of their avocado margaritas.
Blue Agave Tequila Bar & Restaurant
This downtown Mexican destination is best known for its strong margaritas, authentic fare, and extensive tequila selection, which features more than 200 varieties. Sample through them on Tuesdays, when a $5 tequila shot and $2 taco happy hour special runs from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Hungry for more? Stick around for dishes like the molcajete, featuring meat cooked over a lava rock that is then gussied up with spicy fire salsa, onions, and bell peppers. Save room for dessert, and make it the churro doughnut ice cream sandwich, with vanilla bean ice cream, Mexican chocolate, and sprinkles.
El Hefe Mexican Restaurant
Every day is a party at this River North restaurant, where specials range from $1 off all tacos and discounted drinks on Tuesdays to industry drink discounts and top Chicago DJ sets on Wednesdays. Kick things off with a round of beer-garitas and tacos before moving on to some of the venue’s signature plates, including the carne asada fries or the Hefe Dog (a Kobe beef hot dog in a Mexican bolillo roll with charro beans and tomatillo-avocado salsa). For a taste of what they do best, don’t miss their award-winning hamburguesa, an angus beef patty with jalapeño marmalade, queso asadero, and chipotle mayo.
Fresh produce and only the finest cuts of meat are the focus at this eatery, which means that menus between its six Chicagoland locations vary slightly. In Berwyn, it means a wide variety of crowd-pleasing plates, from tamales with chicken and green tomatillo sauce to shrimp empanadas with white rice and cactus salad. Don’t miss dessert — there are favorites like flan and fried ice cream, but the real showstopper? The sopapillas con helado, a serving of cinnamon-sugar fritters topped with condensed sweet milk and vanilla ice cream.
Javier's Sabor Mexicano
Located in the heart of downtown Arlington Heights, this Mexican fixture has been serving up traditional, no-fuss Mexican cuisine for more than 25 years, earning it a loyal community following along the way. Start off the evening at the agave bar, where Tequila Cazadores and another 80 some tequilas are ready for the tasting, alongside a fleet of specialty, made-to-order margaritas. When hunger strikes, move to the dining room (or the lively patio) for an array of authentic staples, from enchiladas and tostadas to tacos and fajitas. Dessert is a definite do — opt for the platano frito, a hot-meets-cold serving of fried plantains and ice cream.
Mexican cuisine is known for its big, bold flavors, and at this Berwyn restaurant, guests can expect them in every plate. Chicken and shredded beef flautas are met with refried beans, sour cream, and mole; nachos supremos are topped with rich ground beef, Chihuahua cheese, and jalapenos; and sizzling Azteca fajitas are served with nopales, guacamole, and cilantro. Heighten that heat with a round of Cazuelas, a Guadalajara specialty cocktail of tequila, aguardiente, and fresh fruit, before calling it a night.
Sammy's Mexican Grill and Bar
Food lovers in the Northwestern suburbs flock to this restaurant, where the team has spent the past decade serving up modern, regionally inspired spins on Mexican plates. Case in point with favorites like the costillas de cochinita pibil (slowly braised pork ribs wrapped in banana leaves), or the El Diablo burrito dinner (their signature burrito filled with grilled rib eye, onions, cilantro, and refried pinto beans). More than 150 kinds of tequilas are available — try them at their bi-monthly tequila dinners or during any of their weekly specials (think half-priced premium shots and margarita flights).
El Cortez Mexican Restaurant
There are three locations of this restaurant group, which has been serving Chicagoans reliable Mexican fare for decades. Expect plenty of traditional items like tacos al pastor and chiles rellenos, but jazz it up with a selection of their specialty plates, too, such as taco sombreros, bite-sized burritos, and filete estrella (tenderloin with Chihuahua cheese and salsa verde). Specials are on offer all week long, including Tuesdays, when guests can sample five tacos for just $5. Pair them up with full-flavor drams from the bar, such as a signature margarita or, for a really long day, their Long Island iced tea take on sangria.