It's usually not a good sign when there's an instruction manual on how to deal with choking hazards posted on the back wall of a restaurant. Mexican Inn, which opened in 1961 and is one of Chicago's oldest taquerias, might just be the exception.
Along with the choking-hazards sign, there are a handful of chili posters, Aztec-looking wall-mounted shields and regalia and a cactus composed of light bulbs holding court over a handful of formica tables and well-worn vinyl booths. Take away the Mexican decorative touches, and this spot could be an anonymous '50s-style diner.
The menu of green-chili-roasted pork, crumbled queso fresco-topped tortillas, cumin-infused, gravy-slathered enchiladas and cheese bechamel-enrobed corn tortillas is a mash-up of regional Mexican and Tex-Mex franchise-style fare. These days it's tough to find hard-shell tacos outside of Taco Bell, but Mexican Inn's glistening, deep-fried shells stuffed with high-quality meat and a crispy shred of iceberg lettuce and toothsome tomato make you wonder why everyone's moved toward the droopy soft shell.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant