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El Tapatio Cafe

View Map3400 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago
Tel: (773) 327-5475
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Editorial Review of El Tapatio Cafe

For inexpensive but delicious Mexican fare in a fun (albeit somewhat cramped) setting, you can’t beat El Tapatio Cafe.

The eatery’s two dining rooms are usually packed with hungry locals on weekends who have flocked to the small, causal café for its yummy quesadillas, tangy salsa and other traditional Mexican menu items (including some delicious soups). All are best washed down with one of El Tapatio’s truly above average margaritas—giant and frosty, they’re as strong as can be. The restaurant also offers a Mexican Long Island Iced Tea that’s served in an even larger container.

Space is at a premium-tables are pushed together as close as possible, especially in the back non-smoking room, but it’s all part of the experience. No-frills is the name of the game at El Tapatio. As a result, weekend waits can be long (diners tend to linger), but there’s a small bar across the street to wait in. There’s also a small bar at El Tapatio, but like the dining room, it fills fast.

In summer, El Tapatio also has an outdoor area that offers some sidewalk scenery but is—you guessed it—small, so get there early if you hope to snag an al fresco seat.

Average cost: $10-$20

Centerstage Reviewer: Erin Brereton

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10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday

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chicago, metromix