Holy guacamole! Expand your celebration of Mexican cuisine even beyond actual Cinco de Mayo (aka, the fifth of May) and hit up this grande selection of local restaurants from the wonderfully authentic to fresh takes on the classics. More spring dining can be yours when you Explore North Shore Restaurants.
Comida Cantina, Evanston
Tangy Margaritas and Mighty Tequilas
The American version of this day tends to be a party atmosphere and the North Shore understands the assignment. Get to Uncle Julio’s (Old Orchard Rd. & Skokie Blvd., Skokie) patio and try their famous The Swirl, a frozen margarita merrily intertwined with frozen Sangria, or pick their Margarita of the Month. Comida Cantina (1928 Central St., Evanston) shows off with a massive agave spirits menu of mezcals and tequilas along with The Comida Margarita or the Mujeres de Mijenta Margarita. Leaning into the flavors of their home region, Guanajuato (1005 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka) Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients and traditional techniques, along with a winning House Margarita. Colorful Mia’s Cantina (373 W. Dundee Rd., Wheeling) has a popular Tequila Bar, too, complimenting their sizzling fajitas, saucy enchiladas, and more.
Taco Nano, Northfield
You probably don’t need a special day to feast on tacos. But taste testing is fun, especially when it’s all in a name! At Taco Diablo (1029 Davis St., Evanston) you choose any three tacos per order from devilish delights like Chicken Tinga, Spicy Shrimp, Potato, and Pork Belly & Chicharrons. Check out Taco Nano (1743 Orchard Ln., Northfield) for the Sea of Cortez, tortillas bursting with beer-battered or blackened tilapia cozied up to cabbage slaw, chile morita mayo, and pico de gallo. Not to be outdone, Flaco’s Tacos (1514 E. Lake Ave., Glenview) puts out the Taco Six-Pack with pre-set or DIY combos of Street Corn Chicken, House-Ground Marinated Steak, or Frijoles Negros (black beans). Trendy Taco (195 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette) spices up their menu with fare like the Taco de Pabloano Rajas (roasted poblanos, caramelized onions, cheese, and homemade tomato sauce) and the Taco de Chipotle Tilapia (onions, cilantro, lime, and homemade chipotle sauce).
The Finer Dining Edition
Street food is great, but Mexican flavors can be beautifully elevated, too. Fonda Cantina (1735 Benson Ave., Evanston) embodies a “culinary memoir of Mexico” like the intriguing Orden de Quesabirria of Salsa-braised beef, beef broth consommé, cilantro, onion, queso Oaxaca, and fried tortilla or Albondigas al Chipotle with beef meatballs simmered in tomato-chipotle broth served with warm tortillas. Modern vibes get traditional care and flare at Libertad (7931 Lincoln Ave., Skokie) for standout Veneras: pan-seared scallops, plantain-bacon fufu, coconut-chile sauce, and escabeche. Or veggie-friendly Coliflor, dressing roasted cauliflower in romesco, shaved carrot salad, and spiced cashew.
La Taquiza y Mas, Glenview
Family Friendly Fiestas
Get the whole family in on the fun! Eataco (1350 Shermer Rd., Northbrook) has a cool co-star for their fusion tacos: the Mexifries come with nacho cheese, vegetarian black beans, fire-roasted corn, pico de gallo, sour cream, and queso fresco. Obviously the burritos are out of this world at El Famous Burrito (236 McHenry Rd., Wheeling) including the Mexican Sausage & Egg Burrito (chorizo y huevo) or the featured Tongue (Lengua) Burrito, as well as a kids menu. La Taquiza y Mas (2841 Pfingsten Rd., Glenview) and La Taquiza (2661 Shermer Rd, Northbrook) use traditional, family recipes to whip up fresh meals from scratch. Build your own tacos with tons of filling options like Carne Asada, Chiles Relleno, and Chorizo Papa (Mexican seasoned sausage with potato).