Taco Fresco

23 East Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60603

With seven shops around Chicago, Taco Fresco is a quick, cheap and convenient place to grab classic favorites in Tex-mex cuisine. It’s cheap and convenient, but there’s another twist to the food: It’s healthy. Where most places fry food, Taco Fresco boils and bakes. They prefer lean meats, plenty of vegetables, and can substitute low fat cheese and fat free black beans. With those kinds of benefits, this place is sure to have a dedicated following. All told, it’s great, but the food sacrifices something in terms of flavor.

The tacos are great, the crispy ones especially have plenty of toppings, including lettuce, cheese sour cream and salsa. The hard shells are still great; maybe they’re prepackaged and thus not grilled but they taste just like normal tortillas. I tried the quesadilla too, and that’s also excellent. These dishes are pretty simple, so there’s not a lot of ways to screw them up. They’re good. The menu also includes a number of burritos and other things; it’s the typical Tex-Mex cuisine. Where Taco Fresco puts its energy then, is in making a more quality set of foods. The meat is grilled very well, and it comes out succulent and juicy. Still, the overall results are mixed.

Good Hispanic cuisine really shines when it’s got a heavy emphasis on vegetables and fresh ingredients. Unfortunately, a failing to me is the shop’s reliance on pre-packaged food. The lettuce is the bagged, pre-cut variety. The sour cream comes in a can. Yes, you can make good cuisine with plenty of vegetables, but they need to be fresh, not processed. The combination of healthy ingredients and processed vegetables makes the food a little bland. At the least, the salsa and meat could use a little seasoning, good as they are.

The service is decent. I’m surprised to find the people aren’t particularly friendly. I get that this is Chicago, a major city, and that there’s always a rush, but it’s also still the Midwest. Overall this city still seems to have plenty of friendly people. This tone is a little more New York. I suppose, as a walk up place, you only deal with the workers briefly, but still. It’s a strange exception when all of the nearby places have people who are better at dealing with patrons.

The interior is small and cramped, as is expected of such a place, but it’s still dark and dank, not a lot of light from outside, not a lot of lights on the ceiling. You almost feel like you’re in a bar instead of a restaurant. Not great motivation to want to stick around.

Bland food and bland service make for a mediocre experience.


    • Grab food and go with it; this isn’t the kind of place where you’ll want to sit around, and there probably isn’t space anyway.
    • If you’re dedicated to healthy, you’ll find it here. Otherwise, you may find the food bland.
    • Try the tacos or burritos first.

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