Here’s a Top 5 that’s sure to stir the pot of pickled onions a bit. After the remarkable little beauties I had last night at Antique Taco in Wicker Park, I was inspired to pick my top 5 in town (and can’t believe I haven’t even made an attempt at ranking them previously). Obviously, you can find great tacos at places like Frontera Grill and Salpicon!, but I’m focusing on places where tacos are the featured item on the menu, if not the only thing on offer. Also, I don’t care how long La Pasadita has been around (or how many there are near the corner of Division & Ashland; if they’re not making their own tortillas from scratch, then really, they have no business being in the top 5 in the city.
1. Birrieria Zaragoza (goat)
4852 S. Pulaski, 773-523-3700
2211 W. Lake St., Melrose Park; 708-344-3400
You’ll have to make your own, sort of, as you navigate the wonderful goat stew and fresh-from-the-griddle tortillas, but what a pleasure this DIY taco is; condiments such as fresh cilantro and radish help, but aren’t really necessary.
2. La Lagartija (fish)
132 S. Ashland Ave., 312-733-7772
As much as I love the fish taco out at Chicks ‘n Salsa in Glen Ellyn, this is a Chicago list, and therefore, my fish champion resides at this taqueria, run by the folks behind Bom Bon Bakery and Cafe, just two blocks from the Mexican Consulate.
3. Antique Taco (carnitas)
1360 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-687-8697
Coming off last night’s impressive visit, I loved just about all of my tacos, especially the ones draped in assertively pickled red onions; all of them arrived in properly warm (and fresh) tortillas.
4. Big Star (al pastor)
1531 N. Damen Ave., 773-235-4039
Yes, you’ll have to put up with the hipsters out on the patio this summer, but who cares. When Justin Large oversees pineapple kissed al pastor pork, straight from the spit, swathed in achiote and griddled to order, the couple of dollars is money well spent.
5. De Cero (chicken mole)
814 W. Randolph St., 312-455-8114
I’ve always loved their taco platter for a group, but these are seriously well-crafted tacos that are perfect for a Randolph Street snack, even if you can’t score a seat at Au Cheval or Girl & the Goat nearby.