But a new concept in Naperville - from the team that created Naf Naf Grill - is trying to replicate the flavors, and feeling, of eating in a Mexican taqueria. They have big plans beyond just their first store.
The bar up front, where you can get a paloma or a margarita, is the first sign this isn't your typical Mexican fast food joint. Invicto (meaning undefeated) opened just a few months ago at a Naperville mall, after a lot of on-the-ground research by the guys who helped launch Naf Naf Grill.
"When you walk through that door, we want you to feel like you're in Mexico City, at a taqueria," said David Sloan, who owns Invicto. "We have fresh corn masa that we make our masa tortillas from. Even our flour tortilla - we use lard - which a lot of places don't use. We're doing it the right way, the way they do in Mexico."
Those tortillas are then used for tacos arabes - loaded with bacon - or even fried avocado, topped with crema, chopped onions and cilantro. Fresh limes and radishes are everywhere. The latter, as a garnish for the mula.
"We're also doing other unique things like mulas, which is a fried street quesadilla," Sloan said.
The tortilla, in this case, is placed over the cheese, then flipped when that cheese is browned, and ultimately, smashed together with another half of cheesy tortilla.
Those lard-enhanced flour tortillas might be turned into Cali Burritos. Inspired by the San Diego-Tijuana corridor, they're jammed with french fries, guac, steak and onions, and plenty of creamy, melted queso and sour cream.
Cemitas come on bread baked in-house; one half gets creamy chipotle, the other, a more assertive, straightforward chipotle. Try the version with thinly-pressed-and-fried chicken.
Freshly made horchata and fruity agua frescas are also worth sipping. Sloan said the goal is to have Invictos all over the region. Heck, maybe even spread throughout the country.
"We wanted to take people to a different time and place. We put a lot of effort into the way the restaurant looks," he said.
Invicto is part of a program called 'One Feeds Two', which means for every meal they sell here, a child in the developing world gets a free meal. So it's not only food that tastes good, but it also does good.
EXTRA COURSE: Invicto custard shakes
1727 Freedom Dr., Naperville