The city of Milwaukee isn’t exactly synonymous with the delicacy that is tacos. But, maybe one day it will be – it’s certainly on its way.
After all, Milwaukee is somewhat of a hidden gem for foodies, and while burgers and pizza may get a lot of the attention, don’t get distracted from what is truly a fantastic taco town.
Whether soft shell or hard shell, authentic or Tex-Mex, we’ve no doubt found the perfect taco for you and yours to enjoy.
On this list, you’ll see plenty of cantina-style restaurants, serving outstanding street tacos, chips and queso, and house-made salsa. Most of these establishments serve massive margaritas and creative cocktails, and you’re best served to come both hungry and thirsty.
There’s also plenty of authentic food on this list, and it isn’t limited to Mexican cuisine. There’s plenty of regional flavor here, including takes on somewhere north of 15 different meats you could have on your taco, depending on which of these restaurants you end up at.
The majority of our top 13 are located in downtown Milwaukee, with many of the restaurants on the south side of the city. A few are in the thick of the entertainment and all the exciting happenings in the midst of the city, and a couple others are just outside the downtown area.
But the one thing you can’t do is miss any of these 13 establishments. Start at the top and work your way through or find the one with the biggest margarita – which also happens to be No. 1 on the list – but don’t miss a single one.
1. Cantina Milwaukee
Cantina is a new tequila and taco restaurant located in downtown Milwaukee that offers a diverse menu of food and drinks in the fun, relaxed atmosphere of a taco bar. The restaurant opened in fall of 2017 and has already been nominated for a 2018 Diners’ Choice award by OpenTable.
On to the food, and starting with the starters … Cantina has an amazing range of appetizers. They have your typical Tex-Mex offerings, such as loaded nachos, quesadillas, and chips and guac, sure. But they also serve creative apps like Cantina Curds, Coyote Wings, and Shrimp Ceviche, as well as elotes – authentic Mexican street corn.
There are over 20 bistro tacos to choose from, split into categories: chicken, pork, beef brisket, steak, From The Sea, and Won Ton Taco. You’ll also find smothered burritos, taco salads, and fajitas on the menu.
And it wouldn’t be a taco and tequila bar without tequila, of course. Cantina’s famous 100-ounce Margarita Tower will satisfy any thirsty crew, and the 65-plus varieties of tequila behind the bar will be enough of a selection for any tequila connoisseur.
2. Café Corazon
Café Corazon offers locally-sourced Mexican dining while serving fresh local ingredients, including both beef and seasonal produce from farms in and around Milwaukee. There are two locations for you to visit, including one just north of I-94 and one on the south side of downtown.
There are plenty of options to choose from at Café Corazon. The meat options alone include steak, pork, chicken, chorizo, ground beef, pulled beef, and shrimp. There are multiple vegan options for your taco experience, too.
The Taco Truck Plates includes three tacos with the meat of your choice – or vegetarian, if you prefer. Plus, there are several specials throughout the week, including $5 margaritas at lunchtime on Monday through Thursday and a $5 specialty sangria on Wednesdays.
3. Taco Moto (Formerly Gypsy Taco)
Taco Moto, the artist formerly known as Gypsy Taco, changed its name in early 2018. And, if you hadn’t already guessed, it’s a food truck.
They serve a rotation of seasonal tacos, including juicy brisket and Dr. Pepper-braised pork. There’s also outside-the-box ingredients such as toasted pumpkin seeds, goat cheese, and more, depending on the time of year.
Queso is available, too, for those of you looking to get your Tex-Mex kick.
4. Carnitas Don Lucho
Carnitas Don Lucho specializes in … you guessed it: carnitas! Their tacos are served on handmade tortillas and definitely fall in the category of authentic Mexican food.
The barbacoa is fantastic, too, and Don Lucho’s establishment is also famous for its thick, red salsa and the fresh, jalapeno-based verde option.
Carnitas Don Lucho is located on the south side of downtown and is perfect for weekend takeout. Make sure to get enough carnitas and/or barbacoa to have leftovers in the fridge!
5. Mazorca Tacos
Mazorca is a relatively new taco truck, located in the Walker’s Point neighborhood of Milwaukee. It stays put on the lot, and even if owner Jesus Gonzalez wanted to drive it around, well, he’d have a long line of hungry customers running behind it.
Mazorca has four tacos to choose from, including al pastor (marinated pork), birria (braised beef), bistec (beef marinated in Wisconsin beer), and vegetarian.
6. Taqueria El Cabrito
Taqueria El Cabrito offers a more traditional take on Mexican food, from appetizers limited to chips and guacamole, quesadillas, and a few others, backed up by tostadas and burritos. And, of course, awesome tacos.
It’s located on the south side of Milwaukee and is known primarily for its authentic pastor (pork) and asada (steak).
7. Belair Cantina
Belair is all about creating a “Cali coast” atmosphere as they serve you fantastic Tex-Mex. How do they create this coastal feel? Well, the power of tacos, of course.
The menu is versatile, with their appetizers ranging from traditional offerings like Sweet Plantains and Roasted Mexican Corn to … Hot Dog Taquitos? There are 23 taco varieties to choose from, including four seafood varieties, all served on either corn or flour tortillas. Don’t miss the burrito and burrito bowl options, either, or the creative desserts: Mexican S’mores and Homemade Churros? Yes, please.
8. Taco Loco
Taco Loco stakes its claim as the “home of the original Mexican Taco”, so it’s hard to go wrong visiting one of their three Milwaukee-area locations. Also … taco is in the name. Again, you can’t go wrong here.
It is a grocery store with a restaurant inside, so you know you’ll be getting fresh protein and produce. Taco Loco began providing primarily Mexican food to the good folks of Milwaukee in the 1990s but shifted to include other Latin American flavors and now offers a wide variety of options on its menu.
There are fourteen (14!) different meats to choose from to put on your tacos, or simply try the Chimichanga Plate or the Tamale Plate. You can’t go wrong.
9. Margarita Paradise
It’s called Margarita Paradise … and that’s enough reason to make sure you don’t miss this place.
But, this is a Best Tacos list, so we won’t let you down there, either. In addition to margaritas, they offer taqueria-style cuisine, including homemade chips and salsa, as well as deli items. They’re even open for breakfast and are operated by a family that has been serving delicious Hispanic food for a long, long time.
Make sure to get a side of tacos with that margarita.
If you’re looking for “elevated street food”, well, you’ve come to the right place.
Vagabond is positioned in the heart of Milwaukee’s entertainment district and offers quite the selection of beef, poultry, seafood, veggie, and pork street tacos. The beef options alone include the likes of Hanger Steak, Short Rib, Flamin’ Cheeto, and so many more. They also serve tostadas, enchiladas, and burritos. But again, you’ll come – and stay – for the tacos.
As for drinks, be sure to wash down your meal with a house-made margarita or choose from 14 draft beers or one of the many bottled varieties. It’s all here.
11. Restaurante Guadalajara
Guadalajara is located on the southeast side of Milwaukee and offers fantastic authentic Mexican food to its patrons.
Just looking for a light lunch? Order a taco, tostada, enchilada, or burrito a la carte. Or ask for one of the lunches, such as the delicious Huevos Rancheros, or even one of the full dinners, such as the Chile Relleno or the combination plate.
Nothing says authentic like tacos from Restaurante Guadalajara.
12. El Comedor
El Comedor has three locations on the south side of Milwaukee, including a popular food truck spot. Lunch is served at all three locations, while dinner is only served at their location on National Ave.
Their tacos will only run you $2, and you’ll be able to pick from steak, pork, chicken, chorizo, pork rinds, or … wait for it … beef tongue, tripe, or head. You can also choose to eat a hearty lunch by ordering quesadillas, huaraches, or burritos. But I’ll stick with the tacos.
13. Poco Loco Cantina
We round out our list with another Tex-Mex cantina, serving a great variety of tacos.
They’re famous for their duck breast, served in a flour tortilla with queso (of course), lettuce, and chipotle salsa. It’s an upstairs joint, with a fun atmosphere and an extensive cocktail menu.
The typical Tex-Mex is available, from tacos to enchiladas to burritos. Get here and dig in the next time you’re a few miles north of downtown Milwaukee.