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Quest for best authentic Mexican in Western Suburbs!

We have been on a quest to locate the best authentic (no chains allowed!) in the Western Suburbs. We're in the Glen Ellyn/Downers/Wheaton area, but are not limited our search to just those areas. We're tried numerous restaurants and none of them are quite hitting the spot. Any & all comments appreciated!!

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  1. Uncle Julio's Hacienda on Butterfield Rd in Lombard. They do have another location on North Ave and Clybourn near Lincoln Park so I don't know if you would consider it a chain, but if you haven't checked this one out, you should. More Tex-Mex than authentic Mexican, but it is food is high quality and consitently well-prepared. I don't really know of any authentic Mexican restaurants in that neck of the woods.

    1. I have to agree 100% with Sunnyday. Uncle Julio's is in no way shape or form authentic Mexican. It is also not very good "Tex-Mex." You can do much better than that.

      Baha Fresh is much better than Uncle Julio's. Better ingretients, fresher, and healthier.

      I think you need to go to Pilsen for great Mexican. Make it a road trip and enjoy.

      1. You might want to check recent reports on Amanecer Tapatio in Joliet. They have relocated (within Joliet) and there have been some uneven reviews, so do check because it's quite a haul.

        1. You can try Tia Maria's Mexican Restaurant in St Charles. Authentic Mexican, family run. It's not a very big place so you may have to wait - but it's worth it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: HomeChef

            Tia Maria is not in St. Charles but in Geneva on East State Strret (Rte. 38) The do have some interesting regional specialties like cochinita pibil which is a chile roasted pork served on banana leaf. If you go to either West Chicago or Aurora there are many smallfamily run Mexican places, try along East New York Street in Aurora where there are several Mexcian markets and one area that has a little flea market on weekends with street vendors. Jalisco on West Galena at Highland is pretty good and there is a new Mexican steakhouse on Lake Street (Rte. 31) just before downtown that I know nothing about. Our frequent favorite is Taco Grande in downtown Batavia. It is family run and now some of the 3rd generation is working there.

            Tia Maria
            730 East State

            El Taco Grande
            6 North River Street

            Jalisco II
            947 West Galena

            1. re: HomeChef

              Tia Marias' is one of my favortites!

            2. We like New Rebozo, in Oak Park on Madison just east of Harlem. We've been going there for years, and I still haven't ordered off the menu - one of these days, I won't like one of the specials, but it hasn't happened yet.

              The chef owner runs the house, and the menu contains many items - presumably more authentic - that you won't find at the chains. For the next couple of months, you can get a terrific poblano stuffed with a mix of meat, fruit, and nuts, with a crema and pomegranate seeds on top. He also does several moles and usually has a combination plate with 3 or 6 enchiladas, each with a different mole. These are not the standard sickly sweet chocolate you find elsewhere, but flavorful subtle moles with different bases - chocolate/chili, of course, but also pumpkin seed, pistachio, etc. One warning - he doesn't typically announce the prices when we announces the specials, and they're not cheap. But they're usually worth it.

              1. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Salbute in downtown Hinsdale. It's definitely more representative of "upscale" Mexican cuisine than most restaurants. It's not just 50 different ways to stuff tortillas.

                It's somewhat pricey, and the service is sometimes indifferent, but it's not your typical suburban Mexican restaurant. You don't see dishes featuring venison or duck in most Tex-Mex restaurants.

                1. Salbute is great for slightly upscale Mexican. It's a cozy (i.e., small) place, but we've enjoyed our several meals there. Yerbabuena restaurant in downtown Lisle actually has very good, authentic Mexican -- you may want to give it a try. I also like Las Palmas (on Ogden in Naperville and also in Westmont, I believe).

                  As for Uncle Julio's, I actually like their food (started going to the one on North Avenue and now occasionally eat at the one on Butterfield) -- however it's obviously a chain and, although I'm not an authority on Tex-Mex, would put it in the same category of a place like P.F. Chang's in terms of its authenticity.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: RMA

                    Couldn't let your last comment go unremarked. There is almost nothing at PF Chang's that is authentically Chinese - it is merely a good example of a themed American chain. There are Budda statues everywhere, but my dinner there the other night - "Lemon Pepper Salmon" - would be unrecognizeable in any part of China. Get yourself to Chinatown, and use your nose to find authentic Chinese. Same with Mexican - skip the chains, try the ones filled with Mexicans.

                  2. It's been years since my last visit but I recall tasty authentic Mexican food being served at Taco Express in Westmont accross from the Metra station. Is it still there? I found a couple locations in the general area and wonder if they're run by the same people.

                    1. The most authentic Mexican food we've been able to find so far in the 'burbs is La Magdalena, 321 N Addison Rd, Addison, IL
                      (630)832-0305. They have another restaurant in town, La Hacienda de los Fernandez which is further west on Lake Street, but it is the same food with a higher price tag. The restaurant is definitely fancier, too. Great margaritas, soup, all kinds of good food. Everyone we've ever turned onto this place has loved it.

                      1. Thanks - LikestoEatout, for making the correction. My mistake. Very nice post. Like you pointed out "They do have some interesting regional specialties" and is family run. That's how you get the best authentic food.

                        1. It's a bit of a drive but Taxco Restaurant on State Street in Sycamore may be just the ticket. Jesus Romero purchased the restaurant from his uncle, owner of several restaurants in Chicago, and has made it his own. He travels to Mexico several times a year to visit family and scout out menus and recipes. The dishes are not particularly complicated but are of high quality; the menu is relatively extensive-everything from tacos and burritos to a terrific shrimp rellenos. There is also an impressive tequila bar with over 320 tequilas at last count, and a nice selection of imported sodas and beers. Service is casual but attentive, and the fact that Jesus has expanded 4 times since first buying the restaurant is testament to its popularity with the locals.If you have a particular favorite dish the chefs are always willing to try to accomodate. Prices are very reasonable and there is often live entertainment.
                          Taxco Restaurant
                          223 West State Street

                          1. Thanks to all for the great suggestions... we have dined at many of them in the past

                            Tia Maria - great atmosphere & service, food just so-so, guacamole tasted store-bought - even our waiter tried steering us away from it!)

                            LaMagdalena has been at the top of our list for years

                            Uncle Julio's looks a little too 'trendy' for us

                            The only Pilsen area restaurant we've tried is Nuevo Leon - any other rec's?

                            El Taco Grande is fair, but thought it to be a little pricey for what you get. Love the atmosphere & service was always good.

                            Salbute's is always good... was more fun when it was a BYOB!

                            Las Palmas - been to many times and while it's not bad, think there must be better!

                            Yerbabuena - dined there many times (especially outdoors on a nice summer night!). Food is fresh & creative - service has rarely been acceptable. Last time we had waited for 20 minutes - we received chips & salsa, but no water, no menus (and we asked for all of the above). This was about 8:30 on a Monday night, so there were not busy. Needless to say, we left

                            Has anyone tried the H & H Family Restaurant in Lemont? We've been there a few times with mixed reviews, but last Saturday night the service & food was the best we've ever had there. The place is decorated like something out of the 60's. There was only 1 or 2 other tables occupied for a Saturday night, which made us wonder. The seafood chimichanga (which I asked them to prepare burrito-style) was soooo good.

                            Have always wanted to try New Rebozo, so that will be our next venture.

                            Taxco in Sycamore sounds good as does some of the Aurora rec's

                            Muchas Gracias for the suggestions!!

                            1. There used to be a branch of La Quebrada in Glen Ellyn [in the same mall as the Trader Joe's]. Not sure if it's still there; not the best restaurant they own, but you may like it. There are other branches of La Quebrada west [maybe Aurora].

                              But I would say that your best bet would be exploring the taquerias of West Chicago. There's been a big Mexican community there for a while. One, Bybys, comes highly recommended [haven't had the pleasure yet myself]. You may also find more information looking at these 2 threads elsewhere:



                              ...and perhaps looking at other posts from eater/reviewers out in your neck of the woods who seem to have tastes similar to yours [dicksond gets around the west burbs quite a bit].

                              And, finally, Joliet is quite a haul for you. I've been a fan of Amanacer Tapatio in the past, but I haven't been there for several months and when I was last there they seemed to still be ironing out wrinkles from their move to a bigger restaurant.


                              142 W, Washington
                              West Chicago, IL 60185
                              Phone: 630/562-1710

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Giovanna

                                Glen Ellyn La Quebrada closed 5/31/06. The owner is remodeling and working on opening a replacement Mexican restaurant in it's place. He keeps telling us it will be "soon". Last I heard was end of October but he's still not open.

                                I will post when he's open. I'm hoping the consistency of the food remains and the service improves.

                              2. Uncle Julio's(have not been to the suburban location fyi) is servicable chain Tex-Mex...about as exciting as any corporate Tex-Mex you might come across in the great state of Texas---meaning...there's such a dearth of Tex-Mex in Chicagoland that Julio's actually suffices on the odd occasion. By no means is it authentic Tex-Mex or, for that matter, "Mexican." And, it is "trendoid," but no more than the plethora of other restaurants catering to that ilk.

                                damning w/ faint praise, perhaps...but, really not bad

                                1. I travel from Brooklyn to Lombard, Illinois every month for business, and was pretty sure that there was no authentic, lovingly made, delicious food there. As soon as I sniffed De Allende Restaurant, knew it was where I was going to have a delicious lunch. Basic, traditional Mexican tacos, tostadas, burritos, and steak and beans dinners, but so far, all have been tasty. Good salsa, homemade chips, good (and hard to find in NYC) horchata, grilled scallions, and daily specials that aren't translated into English (always get those) Its an incredible bargain - someone there (Abuelita? Abuelito?) knows how to cook homey, flavorful Mexican meals, and they do it in Lombard!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: pjslighter

                                    Well... Allende is OK but nothing more. The salsa had excellent flavor but lacked any discernible bite, and everything coasted downhill from there. The nachos, veggie tacos, chorizo tortas, chicken tacos, and huevos rancheros that our group had were pretty forgettable. There was nothing *wrong* with them - they just lacked much in the way of seasonings and flavor. It's the least *objectionable* Mexican restaurant in the western burbs that I've been to, but there is no reason to return. Lalo's in Berwyn serves much tastier food. Our son, who lived in Mexico DF for a year, wondered what kind of Mexican food you were used to in Brooklyn that would make Allende stand out.

                                    1. re: dmoorman

                                      Part of the problem is Brooklyn (and most of NYC) has an appallingly bad selection of Mexican food - none at all until the past few years, and still, most of what is offered is insipid, gut wrenching, or just bad. There is a small, recent surge in street vendors in Red Hook, but only on weekends, and that is less Mexican than Salvadorian. Count yourself lucky to be in Chicago area when it comes to Mexican food. This week, I tried Frontera Grill, and was very happy there. Allende is far tastier (and cheaper, and conveniently located) than some of the local listing in this post, but I will keep going down the list!

                                  2. Per my previous post, De Allende Restaurant is at 1238 S. Highland, north of 22nd St., in a small shopping plaza. Phone is 630-953-0050. And, they're open til 11:00pm!!

                                    1. So, some friends of ours wanted to try H & H in downtown Lemont again last night. Got there around 8:30 and we were the only ones there (hey, at least we didn't have to wait!). Food again was wonderful as was the service & margaritas. An addition to the uniqueness of the place is that they have a psychic on Friday nights. We were going to give it a shot, but she had just left. It's not the best, but it certainly is worth trying!!! Next time, we'll get there early enough to try the psychic!

                                      1. While Mount Prospect is more a northwest suburb, it's about as close as some of the other suggestions previously mentioned here. That's where you'll find Flamingo's Seafood, a recently opened Mexican restaurant specializing in Mexican seafood preparations. I've been there several times and it is absolutely superb. They have a website; it's also worth noting that the menu on their website is only a small fraction of what they actually have on the menu in the restaurant. Highly recommended.

                                        Flamingo's Seafood
                                        1590 S. Busse Road (at Dempster, just north of Algonquin)
                                        Mt. Prospect, IL
                                        (847) 364-9988

                                        1. Yerbabluena (spelling?) in downtown Lisle is very authentic -- a nice Mexican restaurant, not a glorified taco stand. Many items on the menu my non-spanish eyes have never heard of before. Locals love it.