North of the border: 5 new places to savor Mexican fare in Chicago

Zombie Taco. | Photo: Zombie Taco/Yelp

Looking for your next great Mexican meal in Chicago? These new spots will satisfy all your cravings. Here are the newest places to check out the next time you're in the mood for Mexican food.

Zombie Taco


530 N. LaSalle Dr., River North
Photo: zombie taco/Yelp

Zombie Taco is a late-night Mexican spot, serving burritos and more.

This newbie in the Hotel Moxy features a 24/7 pick-up window with six to-go menu options, including the Zombie Burrito, which combines pork, chicken, charred corn, black beans, pico de gallo, and slaw in a flour tortilla.

Customers who want to sit down and enjoy their Zombie Taco can get table service and cocktails at neighboring Bar Moxy, which has more standard hours. Visitors can enjoy breakfast tacos and coffee in the morning hours, and carnitas, burritos and fish tacos near dinner time. Veggie bowls and desserts are also available, as are small snacks and lighter fare for nibbling.

Yelp users are still warming up to Zombie Taco, which currently holds 3.5 stars out of 10 reviews on the site.

Yelper Corey S. noted, "Service is great, food is delicious (jalapeno bacon taco is insane). The coffee is a bit expensive, but you can refill as many times as you want. The menu seems creative too."

Yelper Edwina A. wrote, "This location just opened recently and it was an experience. The tacos are designed to take your taste buds on a ride. You have your choice of ordering via a server or going to the counter. I tried the Korean cheese steak cheese crisp, thick-cut bacon and jalapeno, pork carnitas, braised brisket and charred Korean beef tacos. They were well-seasoned and freshly prepared."

Zombie Taco's pickup window is open 24 hours a day, while the sit-down component is open from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. for weekday breakfast, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for weekday lunch; 4 p.m. to midnight for weekday dinner; 7 a.m. to noon for weekend breakfast; noon to 4 p.m. for weekend lunch and 4 p.m. for midnight for weekend dinner.

Pink Taco


431 N. Wells St., River North
Photo: ruth w./Yelp

Pink Taco is a Los Angeles-based Mexican chain that recently expanded to its first Chicago location. It offers brunch, lunch and dinner with a variety of drink options.

Pink Taco offers a range of tacos, which come three to an order, along with two sides. Options include The Ape (sweet potato, cactus salsa, cotija cheese on corn tortillas) and the Fried Lobster (lobster, chipotle mayo, mango habanero salsa, sliced avocado, cabbage slaw on flour tortillas). On Taco Tuesdays, food and drink specials start at 4 p.m.

The drink menu features rum, vodka, whiskey, tequila, bourbon and mezcal cocktails, as well as a variety of wine and beer. Try out the signature Something Pink cocktail, with tequila and fresh prickly pear puree served in a Pink Taco glass.

Pink Taco currently holds four stars out of 55 reviews on Yelp, indicating good reviews.

Yelper Steve A., who reviewed Pink Taco on May 10, wrote, "This is my favorite taco place in River North, and I think I've tried just about all of them. I started with the Cadillac Margarita, which came with a float of Grand Marnier. It was more than a float, it was an entire small bottle!"

Oral A. added, "Had the pleasure of eating here on Cinco de Mayo. Food was fresh and tasty. I had trio tacos (chicken, steak, and shrimp). They were all delicious. I'd definitely give them another try."

Pink Taco is open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Monday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-midnight on Tuesday-Thursday, and 11-2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Kite String Cantina


1851 W. Addison St. (at Walcott Avenue), Roscoe Village
Photo: alli m./Yelp

Kite String Cantina is a new bar and taco spot launched in March by husband-and-wife duo Andrew and Renee Ragin. It features 20 beers on tap, with selections from local brewers like Haymarket, Half Acre and Metropolitan.

Billed as a cozy neighborhood hangout, Kite String also specializes in carbonated cocktails featuring tropical fruit juices. The bar's kitchen serves up a variety of tacos and taquitos, along with chips and salsa.

With a 4.5-star Yelp rating out of 21 reviews on Yelp, Kite String Cantina has been getting positive attention.

Yelper Cel M., who was one of the first users to visit Kite String Cantina on May 12, wrote, "The service from Mary and Ashton was impeccable. They're welcoming, laid-back and know their stuff. Stopped here to check out the happy hour specials on a Thursday evening and sat at the bar."

Yelper Melissa K. wrote, "Love Kite String Cantina. Cocktails, taquitos, '80s goth jams, Ms. Pac-Man. It's everything I ever wanted in a neighborhood hangout. The owners are super friendly, and you can tell the drinks and food are made with expertise and love."

Kite String Cantina is open from 3 p.m.-2 a.m. on weekdays, 3 p.m.-3 a.m. on Saturday, and 3 p.m.-midnight on Sunday.

Gorditas Loli's


3650 W. Belmont Ave. ( between Monticello and Lawndale avenues), Avondale
Photo: janie m./Yelp

As its name suggests, Gorditas Loli's is a Mexican spot specializing in gorditas, thick patties of masa stuffed with various fillings, and other masa-based pastries. The Avondale outpost is its second location; the original is on the North Side.

Gordita fillings include chipotle-covered chicken, salsa pork and steak with peppers. There are vegetarian options as well, including dried hot peppers in queso and cactus in red sauce. The menu also offers other traditional Mexican fare, such as burritos, tacos and quesadillas.

Yelp users are excited about Gorditas Loli's, which currently holds five stars out of six reviews on the site.

Yelper Nick A., who reviewed Gorditas Loli's on April 7, wrote, "Great addition to the neighborhood. Stopped in for some carryout, got four different gorditas, some tacos and quesadillas. Everything was excellent, inexpensive and the restaurant is very clean."

Yelper Jamie M. wrote, "This is exactly what this neighborhood needed. Their speciality is gorditas, which sets them apart from the other Mexican places around here. That, and the fact the interior has more effort than most and their service is over the top."

Gorditas Loli's is open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. on Tuesday-Saturday and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday. (It's closed on Monday).

Octavio Cantina & Kitchen


5310 N. Clark St. (between Berwyn and Summerdale avenues), Andersonville
Photo: octavio cantina & kitchen/Yelp

Octavio Cantina & Kitchen is a new Mexican spot from the folks behind Lady Gregory's Irish Pubs. It's housed in the Andersonville once held by Bar Ombra.

The business offers modern Mexican food and a large variety of mezcal and tequila, according to its website.

Octavio Cantina & Kitchen serves brunch, lunch and dinner daily. Look for menu options like enchiladas with mixed cheeses, peppers, black beans, spicy pepitas and red onion; chili-braised chicken tacos with avocado salsa verde, cotija and mixed greens; and wood oven-fired flatbreads with lobster, shrimp and scallops in a roasted tomato salsa.

Draft cocktails include the La Diabla, with Banhez mescal, creme de cassis and ginger syrup, as well as draft and bottled beers. (You can check out the full menu here.)

Octavio Cantina & Kitchen's current rating of 3.5 stars out of 102 reviews on Yelp indicates the newcomer is finding its way, but it's still early days.

Yelper Danielle A., who reviewed Octavio Cantina & Kitchen on May 17, wrote, "So far, we haven't tried anything that wasn't delicious, right down to the free chips and salsa. The pork rinds are better than Publican, the margaritas are delicious, and everything is flavorful and well plated. We also loved the ceviche, the fish tacos, and the soups."

Dustin G. added, "I started off with a Bloody Maria and it was good, but there's a sweet chile flavor in it I wasn't expecting. It was a pleasant surprise. For my meal, I had the brunch torta, and it was intense. The soft bun held a perfectly cooked milanesa steak, onions, avocado, black beans and so much more."

Octavio Cantina & Kitchen is open from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. on Monday-Wednesday, 11-1 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, 10-1 a.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m.-11 p.m. on Sunday.
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