1. El Señorial
1901 S 31st St, 414-385-9506
2. El Rey’s Taco Loco
This Mexican grocery store might be better known for exotic produce and butcher cuts, but its in-store taqueria serves up fresh, tasty Mexican food on the cheap. The tacos make it easy to sample the plentiful offerings. Skip the fish and select tender chicken or perfectly spiced pork. All tacos come with cheese, lettuce, tomato and a heaping helping of avocado.
916 S. Cesar Chavez Dr., 414-643-1640; 3524 W. Burnham St., 414-643-1616
3. Cafe Corazòn
With walls covered in Catholic keepsakes, Café Corazon’s tight quarters make for a shoulder-to-shoulder Mexican dining experience. But it’s worth the squeeze. Try the shredded beef or the wet burrito. Open from breakfast to dinner, Café Corazon could in theory feed you all day long.
3129 N Bremen St, 414-810-3941; 2394 S Kinnickinnic Ave, 414-544-2774
Buritto $11.00 – $14.00
What you save on food at this cheapskate institution can go toward the drink bill. (The bar is busy for a reason.) The soupy mashed pinto beans spread on crisp tortillas make for tasty meatless eating (three for $3.90). The pork burritos are about a tenth the size of the monsters currently in rotation at Mexican restaurants, but these slide down easily and breezily, and are only a buck-30 each. Fave order: a couple of chicken-cheese enchiladas, mummified in melted cheese. Three of them with rice and beans: $4.75. And of course everything arrives bubbly hot on a paper plate.
539 W. Virginia St., 414-278-9106
Unfortunately for your waistline, a burrito the size of your head (we’re looking at you, Chipotle and Qdoba) is becoming a common thing. But when you’re hungry, and we mean hungry, a fresh, well-seasoned pork burrito — yes, the size of your head — with Mexican rice and all the fixings from Cermak will do the trick. Five bucks gets you a whopper, with free guac and salsa. Rolling you back to your car will cost extra.
1541 Miller Park Way, West Milwaukee, 414-988-9051
Standing out as the $2 taco restaurant in Milwaukee, Bel Air offers a select two-dollar taco menu on both Tuesdays and Thursdays. Everyday taco prices don’t stray too far anyway, with tortas, taquitos, tostadas, soups and salads also available. Meats of all sorts bring variety to Bel Air’s mouth-watering menu, including lamb, lobster and Modela-and-soda-braised beef. Heck, with the complimentary chips and salsa, you may not even be hungry for a real meal. But you’ll buy one anyway, or maybe three.
1935 N. Water Street. 414-226-2245
$2.00 – $10.00
Contrary to its name, Vagabond’s warm and modern atmosphere will encourage you to stay and mingle longer than expected. A 1970’s Airstream sits smack dab in the middle of the restaurant – now transformed into a bar – lending the restaurant a sepia-toned sheen of nostalgia. American and Mexican street food mingle with memory-lane music at this Downtown eatery. Dine in on Sunday for discounted small plates, cocktails and late night tunes.
1122 North Edison St. 414-223-1122
Few other dining options offer a “Steak Dinner” that’s sure to leave you stuffed for under $9. That goes for all the entrees served at the snug Taqueria Buenavista, such as fajitas, chimichangas and tostadas. Share a heaping plate of food with a date or endeavor to conquer it yourself. For over-the-counter tacos done right, head to one of their brick-and-mortar restaurants or food trucks.
3447 W. Forest Home Ave.; 6000 W Burnham St. 414-546-1197
$4.50 – $10.50