If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself on just about any day of the week fiending for a good taco. However, the amount of quality taquerias in the area seems almost overwhelming. Should I go for a quick bite at Chipotle in Lake Bluff? Or a sitdown meal at the somewhat new Salt Creek Tacos in Highwood?
If you’re ever in a sticky situation like this, you’re in luck: with this handy review of all the best taco spots in Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Highwood, you’ll never be in such a dilemma again.
At every Taqueria I reviewed, I ordered one beef barbacoa taco, and whatever comes with it. I rated each restaurant only on the taco (taste, texture, etc.). Although service, atmosphere, and price were noted, they do not factor into the number rating out of ten.
The Other Door, Lake Bluff
The staff at The Other Door in Lake Bluff is always friendly and welcoming. I feel like I’m stepping into a warm taco blanket whenever I open that heavy wooden door. The interior of the restaurant has a rustic atmosphere that only adds to the cozy feeling.
The barbacoa taco was solid all the way around. The wide variety of salsa choices, each representing a different region of Mexico and level of spice, is a fun addition to the menu, and they each add a unique flavor to the taco. I decided to go with the number four salsa, since it seemed to be the most neutral, and it added a complexity to the overall taste that was unique to The Other Door. The food was a bit on the pricey side but it was worth it.
La Plancha Loca, Highwood
Let me just say, I came into La Plancha Loca with high expectations: it was a local, authentic taqueria that would appear to have very high quality tacos. Additionally, I had heard nothing but raving reviews of this particular taqueria.
Unfortunately, I was let down. They didn’t have beef barbacoa, but they gave me the closest thing to it, which was almost the same. The meat was bland and not very juicy at all. The toppings were lacking and didn’t add much to the overall flavor or texture. I almost felt like I was biting into a plain cardboard tortilla with no filling. The price was modest, but not worth it.
Chipotle, Lake Bluff
Since Chipotle is a very common Mexican food chain, I didn’t expect many surprises out of a standard beef barbacoa taco, and I was right. The beef was nice and juicy but was a bit overly-seasoned. The lettuce didn’t add much to the overall flavor or texture, which was a bit disappointing, but in the end, it was a solid taco that I would get again, and for a decent price.
The Mean Wiener, Highwood
Upon walking into The Mean Wiener in Highwood, I was greeted with a wide array of delicious aromas wafting in from the kitchen. The menu takes up 3 walls, with everything from tacos to hot dogs to gyros to Italian beef.
However, the tacos are just simply a notch above the rest. The overall taste of the taco is incredible, loaded with perfect toppings. Each bite was filled with countless different flavors that all acted in harmony in my mouth. The juicy beef and the cool lettuce come together perfectly, and for a relatively low price, I’m considering pitching a tent and living at the Mean Wiener.
Salt Creek Tacos, Highwood
Salt Creek Tacos is a relatively new restaurant in Highwood. I had never dined at this particular establishment, so I entered the experience with a completely clean slate.
The beef on the taco was very well seasoned and extremely juicy, and the ingredients were clearly high quality. The filling seemed to explode in my mouth, with a spice that I couldn’t quite put my fingeron. After I explained to the server that I just wanted 1 taco to-go, so I could write my review, she kindly offered me a complimentary barbacoa taco. The kindness of the staff coupled with the excellent taco makes for a high rating.
Tacos El Norte, Lake Bluff
I completed my taco tour at Tacos El Norte in Lake Bluff. When I asked for two beef barbacoa tacos (I added another one here to supplement my lunch), the waitress responded by asking what barbacoa was. I was astounded, and it wasn’t until I fully got a grip on the situation that I was able to order al pastor tacos.
This being said, the pork was still flavorful and the lettuce and onions were a very well placed complement to the meat. The food was pretty solid and the price was relatively low compared to the other spots I sampled. The service was sub-par: we were the only people there on a mid Sunday afternoon, and they still took their time taking our orders and bringing our food.
At the end of the day, each taco that I sampled had its ups and downs, and that is what makes each of these restaurants unique. I didn’t eat two tacos that tasted the same by any means. However, one taco rose above and beyond its competition, and that was purchased at The Mean Wiener. The texture, the flavor, the price, and the service were all just a step above those of the other restaurants. This is why The Mean Wiener is the best place to get tacos in the Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Highwood area, and you can take that to the bank.