A shout out today to my long-lost friend (and newly inducted member of the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), John Christensen, who turned me on to a Mexican restaurant in the town of Sycamore, IL by the name of Taxco Restaurant. John and his wife, Cindy, moved from St. Charles, IL out to nearby Maple Grove, IL earlier this year and he texted me one night with a simple message, "Got a new place for you! For authentic Mexican food, this place beats a lot of them!" On a recent trip home from Chicago, I got off I-88 outside of DeKalb and went north to Sycamore to give Taxco a try.
The original Taxco Mexican restaurant was located in the Irving Park neighborhood on the near north side of Chicago. Taxco in Chicago opened in 1985, but closed toward the end of 2010. Born in Mexico and moving to the U.S. at the age of 17, Jesus Romero joined his uncle in Chicago working at the original Taxco. The young Romero worked at Taxco and a number of other area Mexican restaurants before moving out to Sycamore in 1992 to open what was originally called Taxco Restaurant Too, but was eventually just shortened to Taxco Restaurant. The Taxco in Sycamore still uses fresh ingredients and makes tortillas daily on a small tortilla table that's located in their front window, and they make their guacamole at the table with the ingredients placed on a movable cart that can be wheeled throughout the restaurant.
Taxco the restaurant is named after Jesus Romero's uncle's home city - Taxco de Alarcón - located in south central Mexico. Taxco is famous for their silver mines, silversmiths and jewelers that make jewelry out of silver. (Hence, the "silver city" in Taxco Restaurant's logo.)
Sycamore is far from Taxco de Alarcón, both in terms of mileage and the makeup of the town. Sycamore is one of those Midwestern towns that has a bustling downtown area with parking meters that charge 10 cents for two hours. I found Taxco on the main drag - State Street (see map) - and I found on street parking just down the way on Somonauk St.
As I entered Taxco, I saw the tortilla table in the front window, then was surprised to find a bar that featured over 350 different types of tequila on its shelves. Taxco boasts that they have the biggest selection of tequila in the state of Illinois and I have no reason to doubt them after looking at rows and rows of tequila bottles on the shelves.
I was seated in a booth in the first of two dining rooms at Taxco. I was given a menu by the lady who sat me and she asked me what I'd like to drink. I asked if they had Sol beer at Taxco and she said, "I believe we do!" And they did as she brought it out to me moments later along with a frosted mug.
The menu at Taxco features a large number of authentic Mexican dishes including beef, chicken, pork and seafood specialties. They have a lunch menu that is served Tuesday thru Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and has a lot of the same entrees that the dinner menu features, only smaller in size.
Another server brought over some chips and salsa, telling me that she'd be right back to take my order. I was fine with that. The menu was so extensive that I needed some time to go through it. The chips were warm and the housemade salsa was flavorful with a nice little bite to the taste.
Because there were so many things on the menu, I was having a little bit of trouble figuring out what I wanted. I saw that they had enchiladas verdes - seasoned ground beef enchiladas topped with a spicy green tomatillo sauce. But I also noticed the al pastor tacos - seasoned pork tacos topped with chopped onions and cilantro. They also had a combo plate consisting of a pork tamale, a marinated steak taco and a cheese enchilada. Decisions, decisions...
I finally figured out what I was going to order, but my server was nowhere in sight. The lunch crowd had thinned out and the lady who seated me and got me my beer was clearing tables. I think I sat there for about 10 minutes before the other lady finally showed her face, carrying a couple plates to a table across the way. She, too, began to start to clear tables and I finally caught her attention as she was heading back toward the kitchen. She said, "I'll be right back!"
And after a few moments she was. I ended up ordering the enchilada verdes - the lunch selection had two enchiladas with refried beans and rice. And I asked if I could order an al pastor taco, ala carte. She said it would be no problem.
My food came out in a few more moments and I was glad I only got two enchiladas. The enchiladas were covered in a large amount of the tomatillo sauce and cheese with a significant dollop of sour cream on top. Actually, the sour cream sort of took away some of the taste of the slightly spicy green sauce. But the seasoned beef in combination with the green sauce was very good.
Sort of a nice little touch was the tortilla cup that was filled with refried beans. The beans weren't much to talk about about, but I don't think I'd ever seen refried beans served that way.
The al pastor taco had two soft corn tortillas topped with a large amount of pork that was marinated in some sort of a citrus fruit concoction. It tasted kind of like a sweet mango marinade and it had a good taste. The fresh onions and cilantro on top of the meat was a great taste combination with the citrus marinade pork. It was a unique taste, one that I'd never experienced in a pork taco before. The food at Taxco was as good as my friend, John, advertised.
Other than the small hiccup in service, I thought my Taxco experience was exquisite. The food was very authentic for Mexican food and I really liked both the enchiladas verde and my al pastor taco. Even though it's located in small Illinois town, I'd put Taxco up against any Mexican restaurant in any large Midwestern city. It's worth the little trip out from the western suburbs of Chicago and a little diversion off of Interstate 88.