This no-frills Pilsen restaurant from XOCO vet Alfonso Sotelo provides delicious and beautifully plated Mexican favorites at a great price.
When we first walked up to 5 Rabanitos, my date asked if we were in the right spot—the signage doesn’t provide a lot of promise that it’s going to be a great meal, but once we were in the door, his attitude changed immediately. It’s nothing fancy, but the green walls and a sparse dining room with old Spanish love ballads playing in the background give it a charm that’s perfect for devouring as much Mexican food as possible.
Chef Alfonso Sotelo, a XOCO alum, helms the kitchen, providing delightfully comforting dishes with just the right amount of personality. His dishes are flavorful and heartening—if I could sit and eat his food for hours I would.
This is definitely a spot where you can hunker down and order a huge plate of tacos without breaking the bank—each is only $2.25. I’d pick at least two of the carnitas tacos, but there’s no doubt in my mind that all varieties are delightful. The only question our server asked after running through our large order was if we also wanted an order of guacamole (the answer is always yes). The refreshing and creamy dish came out on a beautiful plate garnished with radish slices. Actually, everything here is garnished with radishes as a tribute to the restaurant’s name—“rabanitos” is Spanish for radishes.
The rest of the menu doesn’t disappoint, whether you’re having the ceviche verde with avocado tomatillo lime salsa, dotted with bits of jicama and cucumber and pieces of tender calamari and shrimp, or the caldo de res, a delicious soup with braised short rib swimming in a light Serrano chile broth that includes vegetables like potatoes, green beans and avocado. Entrees are fantastic, too, such as the cochinita pibil, an amazingly juicy and tender dish served with black beans and pickled onions with a side of house-made tortillas—warm and steamy and perfect for making heaping tacos at the table. Whatever you choose, you have to stay for a thick and spicy champurrado (a kind of Mexican hot chocolate) after your meal.
Compared to other taquerias in Pilsen, the presentation at 5 Rabanitos is what sets it apart. You can see the heart that goes into every dish from the way that it’s plated. To top it all off, Sotelo takes time away from the kitchen to stop and talk to each table, showing his excitement for what he does and making sure everyone is satisfied. I know exactly where I’m heading the next time I have a craving for tacos.
Atmosphere: The restaurant isn’t fancy, but the Mexican music helps set the mood for a delicious meal.
What to eat: Must orders include the guacamole, caldo de res and cochinita pibil. If you don’t get an entrée, ask for a side of the house-made tortillas. They’re delicious with anything.
What to drink: It’s BYOB, so bring a bottle of wine or a six-pack. If you prefer a non-alcoholic beverage, the horchata is delightfully fruity and bright, and the champurrado is a sweet dessert.
Where to sit: You can sit anywhere you’d like, but I recommend a table close to the cash register. While the food is fantastic, service can be a little slow and it’s easier to grab your server’s attention if you’re close. Also note: it’s cash-only, but you’ll find an ATM on-site.
|Venue name:||5 Rabanitos|
1758 W 18th St
|Opening hours:||Tues-Thurs 11am-9pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat 9am-10pm, Sun 9am-9pm|
|Transport:||El: Pink line to 18th. Bus: 9, 18.|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
4.2 / 5
- 5 star:3
- 4 star:2
- 3 star:0
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:0
5 Rabanitos is by far one of the best Mexican food restaurants in Chicago right now for authentic Mexican food! The quality of the ingredients, flavor and even the platting is excellent. Coming from Mexico City I am very picky about authentic Mexican food, and even though all of the flavors and authenticity of the dishes were there, the chef still managed to have his unique and originality in every plate. I've ordered all of the main dishes with a group of other food connoisseurs and all agree that this place is excellent!
It's important to note that in order to get their mind-bending house made tortillas you must order one of their platters. If you just order tacos a la carte you end up with run of the mill tortillas and miss out and one of the biggest draws of this restaurant.
I was really exited to try this restaurant. This place is colorful on the inside and has a lot of outside light coming through the large window. I came here twice, once for lunch and once for breakfast. For lunch I had 3 steak tacos and an agua de jamaica. The agua needed a little bit more sugar. The tacos were on the bland side and were luke warm at best. I did have the house of coffee which was very good. I had heard great reviews about this place so I decided to give this place another try for breakfast. I ordered enchiladas verdes with some rice on the side and a cup of coffee. Again main entree was not warm and I would rate a 3 out of 5 stars. The rice was fine and the coffee that I had loved so much the first time, no longer came with whole milk but coffee mate. I'm sure that changed the way it tasted but it was not how I remembered it. The services was always very good. Overall, I think there are better Mexican places to try in Pilsen.
This is a wonderful little spot to grab some great Mexican food. Their tacos are a must! The ceviche is incredible and the menu endless. The owner is splendid, incredibly helpful, and super accommodating. They also have great vegetarian options as well, check out their vegetarian torta! Highly recommend checking this place out.