Hard Shell Tacos

Are you looking to make home made style tacos at home? The first thing you need to do is learn to make your own hard shell tacos because the ones that they sell at the local super markets in Chicago are either cracked or stale by the time you open up the box.  I love making tacos at home because it so easy to cook ground up meat, add spices and prepare condiments to dress your tacos.

So in order to continue to really enjoy my tacos at home, I have started to make my own hard shell tacos.  It’s actually really easy to do.

All you need to do is buy corn tortillas in the size that you want to use.  Then get out a large pot, fill it up with vegetable oil.  Heat it up and then place the tortilla inside the pot.  Use a pair of tongs or a metal spatula to press down on the tortilla to form the u shape.  This will also ensure that the tortilla gets properly cooked like at the restaurants.

When they are golden brown, take the out and place them on a plate with a paper towel to soak up the oil and then repeat until you have the number that you need.

I usually fill my tacos with taco meat, cheese, salsa, guacamole, and chopped tomatoes.  So give it a try.

Frontera Grill

The Frontera Grill is a Mexican restaurant owned by Rick Bayless and Deann Bayless.  The two are credited with bringing authentic serving up some of the most authentic and fresh Mexican food supplied by local farmers.

The Frontera Grill is a very casual restaurant with plan tables and terra cotta tile floors.  Located at 445 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois, this place is open every day except Sunday and Monday.

The menu is constantly changing as the chef here likes to focus on what is currently available that is fresh and seasonal.  For starters, try the daily soap special.  You won’t go wrong.

There is always a nice variety of salsa including the smoky salsa negra.  This restaurant only allows limited reservation so plan to come early if you want to get a fast table.

Adobo Grill Restaurant

The Adobo Grill is a Chicago Mexican restaurant that is not your ordinary Mexican joint.  This is a place for those who are looking for more than a taco truck or a taco stand and want to eat some good Mexican place in a cool contemporary place.  Located at 1610 North Wells Street.  You should make reservation if you plan in eating here because there is usually a long wait here.

This Mexican restaurant has two floors.  If you want a nice intimate setting ask for a table upstairs.  The down stair eating area is more hip and a party scene.  It’s definitely a good single bar hang out and a lot of fun.

This places signature dish is their fresh guacamole prepared table side to your spice level.  If you have not had this made for you at your table, its a really nice experience especially if you love eating guacamole.  Aside from the great guacamole, the tangy chipotel marinated grill shrimp with plantain, rice, and zucchini noodles.  The pork chops is also really good.

Nacional 27 Restaurant

Nacional 27, is a trendy Latin American restaurant that is part night club and part restaurant.  They serve a mix menu influenced by all Latin nations like Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil and Costa Rica.

The restaurant has a large airy layout that gives a modern tropical feel with their bamboo wood tables.  The eating area wraps around a centralize dance floor that allows you to enjoy your food and watch the other patrons dancing.

My personal favorites are the taco trio, which is a bbq lamb with black been and pork dish.  I also like the Chicken Tortilla soup with consists of shredded chicken with a jalapeno broth.  The steak arepa quesadilla with cremini mushrooms is also a fan favorite.

The cocktail list is very innovative and puts you in the right mood to dance the night away at this trendy Mexican Latin American combo restaurant.

The Nacional 27 restaurant is located at 325 W Huron Street.  Call and make reservations because the place gets packed on the weekends.

Las Palmas Chicago

My wife and I love Mexican food.  We were both originally from the west coast of the US, so we were exposed to high quality authentic Mexican food all our lives.  Now that we have relocated to Chicago, we are always constantly looking for really good Mexican Restaurants.

We make a conscious effort to eat at as many Chicago Mexican Restaurants as we can to locate the best one.

Last weekend, we went to Las Palmas Restaurant.  Located at 1835 West North Avenue in a good part of Chicago, we were pleasantly surprise by the fine Mexican dishes they had on their menu.  I had the Camarones, which were pan seared shrimp smothered in white wine mojo de ajo.  We also split an order of the Taquitos De Polo which was a barbeque style chicken taquitos which was surprisingly good.   I normally prefer traditional style Mexican taquitos but the combination of watercress and salsa cruda was really good.

I personally think that to qualify as a good Mexican restaurant, you have to make good Guacamole.  If you don’t have good guacamole then it is a good indicator that the rest of your Mexican dishes will not be that good.  So that is the first thing that I order and eat with chips while I wait for the main dishes.  I also look at their Mexican beer list to make sure my favorite beers like Dos Equis, Negra Modelo and Bohemia are available.

At Las Palmas Restaurant, the guacamole was perfect and my Dos Equis was nice and cold.  They also have a good tequila collection as well.

My wife has the La Case Borracha, which is a pineapple and tequila soaked skirt steak on a stack of run cured plantains and paps fritas with mango pico del gallo.  Can you say yummie!  I have to admit, I couldn’t stop eating her food.

I really liked this Mexican Restaurant.  Their prices are more than reasonable.  The restaurant’s atmosphere is great and the food is really good.  It’s also in a good part of Chicago that is close to our home.  We will be coming back to this place.


Pilsen Chicago

Pilsen is the heart and soul of Chicago large and growing Mexican American community.  Located in the lower west side of Chicago.  This area of Chicago is a great location to explore the great Mexican Restaurants that the city has to offer.

Once you arrive at Pilsen, the sight and sounds of the neighborhood will signal that you have arrived at a vibrant Mexican community.  The sweet armor of steak carne de sada, carnitas, fresh salas, and the many wonderful Mexican foods will radiate throughout the Pilsen Chicago area and draw you to some of the most fantastic Chicago Mexican food around.

The area also offers more than great Mexican Restaurants.  It is also a great neighborhood to walk around to observe Mexican art as it is near the Chicago art district and there are a lot of true stores selling Mexican goods and ingredients if you want to try to cook some of your own authentic Mexican food at home.


Chicken Enchiladas

One of my favorite Mexican foods is the Chicken Enchiladas.  If made right it can be one of the most filling and delicious disk.  Not all Chicago Mexican Restaurants know how to make it correctly.  There are only a handful of Mexican Restaurants that make it with fresh corn tortilla like it original recipe calls for.

For those of you who want to try to make this at home.  Here is a Chicken Enchiladas recipe to try:


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend
1 chopped red onion
2 minced cloves garlic

1 cup frozen corn, thawed
5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 canned chipolata chiles, seeded and minced
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
16 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned
1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses
Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes


Coat large saute pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.

Saute onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, saute 1 minute.

Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to saute pan, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.

Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.

Traditional Mexican Food

Corn is the chief ingredient of most Mexican dishes.  Most Mexican households soften the corn in hot lime water, boil it, and then grind it into a meal.  The main corn-meal food is the tortilla.  A tortilla is a thin pancake shaped by hand or machine and cooked on an ungreased griddle.  The tortilla is the bread that most Mexican consumes.

It can be eaten as part of (1) the taco, a folded tortilla filled with chopped meat, chicken, or cheese and then fried; (2) the enchilada, a rolled up tortilla with a similar filling and covered with a hot sauce based tomato or chili; or (3) the tostada, a tortilla fired in deep fat until it becomes crisp and served flat with beans, cheese, lettuce, meat, and onions on top.

Many Mexicans eat beans that are boiled, mashed, and then fried and refried in lard.  They also generally eat refried beans using a folded tortilla.  Others also add boiled and then refried rice to the dish.  The traditional refried beans with tortilla dish can be found at most Chicago Mexican Restaurants.

Other traditional Mexican restaurant dishes include atole (a thick, soupy corned meal dish) and tamales (corn meal steamed in corn husks or banana leaves, and usually mixed with pork or chicken).

Mexican Food – Reflecting the Colors of Mexico

Anyone who has ever eaten Mexican food can testify to the fact that it is one of the most colorful cuisines in the whole world. A plateful of Mexican food can be likened to an artist’s palette with hues of red, green, orange, blue, etc. Of course, Mexican food is not only attractive to the eyes. Upon tasting any Mexican dish, you will experience a burst of flavor in your tongue that you probably won’t get from other types of dishes. It can be quite overwhelming to the uninitiated. Soon enough though, your mouth will get used to the fare and for sure it will ask for more.

Special World Cuisine

What is it really about Mexican food that makes it so special? Is it the rich history and culture of Mexico? Is it the warmth and hospitality of its people? Is it the beautiful land? Mexican food, as we know it today, is actually the combination of the traditional flavors of the land mixed with Hispanic  cuisine and with a touch of French culture. Of course, you probably know already that Mexico is a former colony of Spain. France also briefly intervened in Mexico in the 19th century. Each new historical event only added more layers of flavors to Mexican food.

Popularity of Mexican Restaurant Food

Mexican food is popular all over the world but it holds a special place in the hearts of the American people. This is, of course, the result of sharing a border with the United States. The influence of Mexican cuisine can be seen clearly in states such as Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico. In fact, many Americans have adapted Mexican food as their own. This is why you can see Mexican snacks such as tacos and quesadillas in many American fast food joints. And if you ask for a salsa or even a guacamole in an American restaurant, no one will look at you in a strange manner.

Of course, if you want to taste other Mexican dishes such as Carne Asada from the Northern region of Mexico or Pozole from the states of Guadalajara and Michoacan, you will really have to visit an authentic Mexican restaurant. The same is true if you want to try some huaraches, gorditas and sopes. It is not hard though to look for Mexican restaurants, especially in cosmopolitan cities such as New York or Chicago because they are all over the place.

The Basics of Mexican Food

You can distinguish real Mexican food both from the presentation and taste which are both determined by the ingredients used. Real tacos, for example, uses corn tortilla and not flour tortilla. The difference between the two in terms of presentation may not be very noticeable but when it comes to flavor, authentic Mexican ingredients is really superior.

If you want to truly experience the flavors of Mexico in the U.S., you need to find a restaurant that uses fresh and original ingredients. The use of flour over corn tortillas in local restaurants is understandable since flour is more abundant here. But you can also find restaurants that will go out of their way to source out original ingredients to provide customers with an authentic Mexican dining experience.


Not too long ago it was hard to find a good Chicago Mexican Restaurant to eat at in Chicago.  But things have changed. With a combination of Mexican fast food outlets and the influx of native Mexicans moving to Chicago, we can now safely say that you can find good Mexican food in Chicago.  So the purpose of this blog is to spotlight the best Chicago Mexican Restaurants.