In a city known for excellent Mexican cuisine—whether at renowned upscale restaurants or cheap Pilsen taquerias—choosing a favorite spot for your south-of-the-border fix is no easy task. But for simple, satisfying tacos and burritos in East Lakeview, Buena Vista is a viable contender.
A handful of small, simple tables line the walls of the one-room storefront, where colorful Hispanic artwork, a butternut squash-color paint job, and traditional Mexican music add charm to the dive. The extremely small but efficient staff makes dining a quick and enjoyable experience, with one woman generally handling dishwashing, one cook sauteing and grilling, and a fast, friendly gentleman running all front-of-house operations.
Start off your meal with complimentary, fresh, all-you-can-eat chips with mild tomatillo and zesty traditional salsas for dipping. Huge portions of food at incredibly cheap prices—even a platter of shrimp in garlic sauce with sides won't run you more than $10.95—fill the menu, with traditional dishes like enchiladas suizas and chilles rellenos making appearances, along with a variety of scrambled egg dishes (chilaquiles, huevos rancheros) for brunch. The dark, rich mole sauce is a house specialty, with a great balance of spice, acidity and sweetness. For just $6.95, you can try it served over a colossal white meat chicken burrito, alongside traditional refried beans, fluffy rice, and a small side salad.
As it's a BYOB joint, you may want to run to the liquor store across the street for a six pack of Negra Modelo or Corona, but with horchata (sweet rice water), fresh fruit milkshakes and a variety of imported sodas in glass bottles (including highly-coveted Mexican Coca-Cola made with cane sugar) available onsite, you may decide to lay off the alcohol for an evening.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Olivia Leigh