Tacos in Wicker Park

A conversation about the best taco in Chicago will likely end in a throw down. Tacos are popular all over the city from gourmet tacos by world renowned chefs (hi, Rick Bayless) to tiny taco stands attached to grocery stores that have no websites. A veritable wealth of taco options.

However, in any list of the best tacos in the city you’ll find these two places listed:

Antique Taco

Someone referred to Antique Taco as “pintrest-y.” It’s funny cuz it’s true. There’s a carefully cultured farm kitchen preciousness to the decor from the wide wooden tables and wooden stools to the jelly jar glasses and cloth dish towel napkins. For some of you, this is a draw. For the rest of you, just ignore it and order a taco:

Antique Taco

Whoever decided that bacon belonged on a carnitas taco is a genius and I love them, especially when they also added spinach, fresh cotija cheese and a few slices of creamy avocado.The plate was warm, the tortillas were bendy and slightly crunchy and the whole thing cost $8. $10 once I added the mouth puckering mango lemonade agua fresca. It actually took 15 minutes or so for me to get my tacos and the place wasn’t busy but I know that means that they started from scratch and made it to order.  Antique Taco deserves all their accolades. I can’t think of a better lunch in Wicker Park.

But if I want tacos for dinner, I go to Big Star:

Big Star ChicagoBecause this place is always a good time. Big Star is an established restaurant that acts like a food truck, referring to themselves as a “beer-focused, taco-slinging, late-night honky-tonk” offering a to-go window in nice weather and refusing to take credit cards.

Big Star ChicagoBut the food is the real deal because Big Star chefs go back to Old Mexico for their taco inspiration, offering pollo pibil steamed in banana leaves and carrots with mole sauce. Their tacos al pastor include pineapple, the guacamole is creamy with crispy chips and the honky tonk vibe invites groups of people to stay too long, eat too many tacos and perhaps sample a bit too much tequila. Big Star is a night all to itself.

There are a lot of great taco places in Chicago. These two are just the beginning.

Blanco Tacos + Tequila

I have a bit of an aversion to eating at high end shopping malls like la Encantada. Generally, I think the restaurants there serve overpriced subpar food in atmospheres where people come to see and be seen and it doesn’t matter how the food tastes as long as it’s pretty and expensive. I’ve found this to be true at NoRTH and Ra particularly.

However, I like Blanco Tacos and Tequila, which is all the more surprising given that it’s a chain Mexican restaurant in the land of bonafide real spectacular Mexican food. However, it’s hard to argue with good food, no matter the package in which it comes.

Their salsa and guacamole are great

Blanco Tacos + Tequila

As are the carnitas tacos

Blanco Tacos + Tequila

A little taco of pork, pico de gallo and cabbage

Blanco Tacos + Tequila

All good simple quality ingredients.

The baby cleaned up all the dipping sauces and ate 2 cobs of corn

Blanco Tacos + Tequila

And then did a little shopping

La Encantada

She’s one of my favorite kids

La Encantada

And not just cuz she dresses like me :)

La Encantada

If you find yourself hungry at La Encantada, eat at Blanco.

And bring along a cute baby for company!