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Jul 7, 2014 09:23 PM

Regional Mexican restaurants

My husband and I are coming to visiting Chicago this weekend. We're particularly interested in trying any unusual Mexican restaurants, especially from regions that we're relatively unfamiliar with.

Where we've been: We've been to Frontera Grill, and liked the food, but aren't particularly motivated to go back. We might hit Xoco for a casual lunch.

What we've had before: We've had a lot of Sonoran, Oaxacan, DF (Mexico City) Mexican before, so are not looking for recs from those regions unless they're truly outstanding. Xni Pec would have been perfect (we haven't tried much from the Yucatan), but sadly it looks like they're permanently closed.

Where we're thinking about going: Cemitas Pueblas, possibly Xoco, and Chilam Balam (looks like an appealing Mexican-inspired small plates menu).

Where we're staying/transportation issues: Our hotel is on the Miracle Mile. We're relying on public transit, but might take a cab for something out-of-the-way and spectacular.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  1. As you've already discovered, Xni-Pec was (yes was, boo hoo) the only place dedicated to a specific region of Mexico. Other places have a broader spectrum of Mexican cuisine.

    I recommend trying:

    Mexique - Mexican cuisine with a French influence. From North Michigan Avenue (the Magnificent Mile - not the Mirace Mile, which is in Los Angeles, LOL), take the #66 bus west two miles on Chicago Avenue.

    Mixteco Grill - Mexican cuisine. It's BYOB and there's a liquor store kitty corner. From the Mag Mile, catch the CTA Red Line at Grand and State or Chicago and State, get off at Belmont, catch the Brown Line train on the other track on the same platform, take it to the Montrose stop, and walk east three blocks. Or, you can take the #22 Clark bus all the way from near the Mag Mile to Montrose, then walk west two blocks.

    Salpicon - In Old Town, very close to the Mag Mile (walkable from the north end, otherwise take the CTA Red Line to Clark and Division).

    The three above accept reservations, including on

    I haven't been all that impressed with Chilam Balam, but maybe you'll like it. Take the #36 bus all the way, otherwise it's a bit of a walk from the Belmont stop on the CTA Red Line.

    There are some others that are excellent but quite some distance and not close to the el, and not necessarily any better than the above. But if you'd like to check out their websites, I'm referring to Amelia's Mestizo Grill in the Back of the Yards neighborhood and Yolo in Skokie (also BYOB)

    For transit info, see

    1. If you like birria, then it's worth the cab fare to Birrieria Zaragoza. Almost as good and closer is Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan.
      I'm a big fan of both Cemitas Pueblas and Xoco.
      You say no DF unless truly outstanding. If you like DF-style tacos, La Chaparrita is outstanding.
      Great seafood at Mariscos el Veneno.

      1. I'll second most of those mentioned already, and add Chilipan, La Oaxaqueña, Sol de Mexico... also, if you're here on Sunday, hit the Maxwell St. market for incredible Mexican street food (Rubi's is my favorite). Runs 7am-3pm, on Des Planes, which is just southwest of the Loop.

        1. One of the great pleasures of having Mexican food in the Chicago area is that there are MANY places dedicated to specific regions or regional dishes. To list them all here, now is more than I have the spirit for, but if you spend time in the archives, on LTHForum or with the King (, you will find many ideas.

          Easy ones: Nayarit style seafood, carnitas de Michohacan (Carnitas Uruapan in Pilsen is both great and El-friendly); birria already mentioned, maybe enchiladas Potosinas, mole Teloloapan for sure.

          And Maxwell St should still be OK...

          1. Thanks, everyone for the great suggestions, and for understanding that I meant the Magnificent Mile even though I said something else.

            Mexique looks fantastic, and the birrerias as well. Hope to fit as many in as I can in the next few days. Thanks!