Tamales a Mexican Joint

4.3
51 reviews
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$30 and under
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Mexican

Nestled on Central Street in Downtown Highland Park is Tamales Mexican Restaurant. Tamales is famous for having some of the best Mexican Food and Margaritas on the North Shore. The ingredients are always fresh, well prepared and presented in unique ways.



The atmosphere is relaxed, casual, and both couple and family friendly. Our staff will go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure your dining experience is just right.



We are located within walking distance to the Highland Park movie theatre, Ravinia shuttle and Highland Park Train Station.



We are also very proud of our catering. Check us out for your next event.

What 51 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.3based on recent ratings
4.3
food
4.4
service
4.1
ambience
3.8
value
Noise · Moderate
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OT
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined on December 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 2ambience 5

Always great food at tamales. Long time customer.

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k
Chicago
12 reviews
Dined on December 14, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food is Fantastic!! Great service !!

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on December 7, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great dinner

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JI
Chicago
59 reviews
Dined on November 21, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food and service as always. Love their skinny margarita's.

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V
Chicago
18 reviews
Dined on October 9, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had not been to Tamales for a while and were happily surprised with how good our meals were. The service was great and all the food was excellent. The mole sauce was delicious and the wait staff was very a accommodating to our guest with allergies.

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on October 6, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

When we arrived for our reservation, we were informed by the hostess that they do not know how to use OpenTable, so they could not honor our reservation . However they offered to seat us within the next hour... We chose to leave. With so many other Mexican dining options in the area, I don’t see us ever having a need to return.

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AH
Chicago
7 reviews
Dined on October 6, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 2

Disappointed. We used to come here often, but now I remember why we have chosen other options. Reservation from Open Table seemed to mean nothing (we waited about 20 minutes past reservation time, but got there 5 minutes early). Food was rushed, under-cooked veggies on fajitas and my wife's fish was not cooked. They were obviously rushing. Only saving grace was a nice wait staff.

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a
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined on September 30, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Staff excelled at working together and assuring our dining experience was a pleasant one. Fluid service and quaint spot we will return to soon!

Amanda

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V
Chicago
17 reviews
Dined on September 22, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Very loud music, and lots of kids. Food was great.

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V
Chicago
29 reviews
Dined on September 21, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

I have been there several times and tonight was very disappointing - asked for hot salsa and didn't get it until later. The steak fajitas were just OK - quality of meat was not good for some reason; I had the ground beef tamales and unfortunately more of the beans and sauce and corn tortilla vs any beef! I think Moshe Isaac is much better food and value......

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OT
Chicago
34 reviews
Dined on August 26, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

As always, Tamales delivered delicious food at a reasonable price. Service was excellent. I had my usual tilapia with red pepper sauce and it once again did not disappoint. My friends had more traditional dishes, burrito and taco and they were pleased with their selections as well. Margarita was perfectly made Highly recommend.

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TC
1 review
Dined on August 25, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 2

Food was good. Service lacked. Seated at table by window where there were flies all over. High top table wobbled horribly and server gave me wedges to put under leg of table since I was standing there

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T
Chicago
120 reviews
Dined on August 15, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

One of our go-to Mexican restaurants. Great duck tacos, shrimp enchiladas and mushroom tamales - not the ordinary Mexican fare.

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CC
Chicago
12 reviews
Dined on August 9, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We are regular customers at what may be the best Mexican restaurant in the North Shore. The menu includes traditional recipiea plus contemporary variations with choices of fish, duck, chicken, pork and salads and home made soups. The all new refurnishings of chairs and wall decor makes for a warm and comfortable ambiance.
My wife and I shared scallop salad and chicken with mole sauce and both were amazing.

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CB
Chicago
1 review
Dined on August 4, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Would have been great except our experience started with finding a hair in the "fresh" salsa... Also i found it odd that the server kept reinforcing the fact that side items (cheese, lettuce, tomato, guac) for the fajitas costs extra. If i say i want something, then i want it, no matter if it costs extra or not. Waiter didnt offer to show dessert menu. I had to ask or he would have just brought the bill. I wish i hadnt asked, the flan was just OK. Better choice would have been the churro. Best things on the menu here, as you've probably already guessed, are the tamales. The mushroom tamale was the best thing out of everything we ordered.

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e
Chicago
18 reviews
Dined on July 28, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

It was a beautiful evening and we were able to sit outside. Our food was well prepared, portions were generous, and everything was tasty. We will happily go back.

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on July 18, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 4ambience 4

We ate outside.

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OT
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined on July 7, 2018
Overall 1food 3service 1ambience 2

Bad service since the time we asked for an outdoor table. The one positive thing is the bus girl worked hard. That’s it. And the shirts they where with no whining, why wouldn’t we with such a crappy experience.

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OT
Chicago
3 reviews
Dined on July 6, 2018
Overall 1food 2service 1ambience 2

It took a really long time to get our menus, have our order taken and then get our check. The hostess/waitress seemed really annoyed that we were even there and the food wasn’t that great.

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s
Chicago
224 reviews
Dined on July 6, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 3

Food & service was good, plenty of parking, convenient location.

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JB
Chicago
3 reviews
Dined on June 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Service and food is always consistent at this fine Mexican restaurant. We have never had a bad experience here.

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on June 24, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

Terrible! They charge you $1 for hot salsa, $4 for the sides for fajitas and the shrimp was awful. Will never return!

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J
Chicago
8 reviews
Dined on June 23, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Love this place! Excellent food and attentive service.

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on June 22, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 3

Really disappointing experience. From the stale chips, bland guacamole, and mushy fajitas, it was lousy Mexican. Much better options available in the area. This place has really deteriorated.

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OT
Chicago
17 reviews
Dined on June 22, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 3

Busy place but the food isn’t super tasty. It seems a bit pricey as well. Skip the veggie torta.

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k
Chicago
12 reviews
Dined on June 11, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food is made fresh to order using the best ingredients! The dishes are unique & delicious!

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A
Chicago
58 reviews
Dined on June 9, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always great because the boss is always there to make sure you're 100% satisfied.

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z
Chicago
12 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

As always flavors were bright and fresh. Jeff and his staff attend to each table as returning guests and the regulars as extended family. Salmon burrito is to die for especially when you get red pepper sauce on side.

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OT
Chicago
18 reviews
Dined on June 4, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 4

Service was un acceptable

The second course was served before we finish he first one

They forgot to bring the salad dressing and when we reminded them they bought balsamic vinaigrette

We needed to draw their attention few times

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WG
Chicago
7 reviews
Dined on May 11, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We always enjoy dinner at Tamales. The food is consistently delicious and the service is very good. On this occasion we had chips with guacamole as an appetizer, with margaritas. My personal favorite is the top shelf margarita. I had the shrimp enchiladas, my husband had the chicken enchiladas, and my mother-in-law had a shrimp and a chicken tamale. We all enjoyed our meals. The menu also includes more unique Mexican fare, and everything we’ve tried has been fabulous. Tamales has a nice, casual atmosphere, and everyone is very friendly and accommodating. It’s a great place to take friends and family.

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M
Chicago
21 reviews
Dined on April 26, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Good food. Good service.

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A
Chicago
7 reviews
Dined on April 21, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

We had a 7:00 reservation and had to leave no later than 8:20 to pick up kiddos from an event. When we walked in, it was unclear who to check in with or where we could stand to be out of the way, but we told the bartender that we were there and tucked ourselves into some chairs off to the side by the kitchen. After a few minutes, several more parties arrived and crowded in the area where we were waiting, making it impossible for the waiters to get by with plates of hot food. I was stressed out on their behalf.

Time started ticking by, and long story short, we weren't seated until 7:45. The bartender/host/manager was very apologetic for the wait, especially after a mix-up in which he almost seated a party before us who arrive around 7:25 and didn't even have a reservation.

Since we were pressed for time at that point, we only ordered main courses. We told the waitress we were in a hurry and she did a great job moving things along. Our tacos came quickly and were delicious. I wish we had had more time to try out some apps and desserts, but it will probably be a while before we visit again. It's good but chaotic and a little expensive compared to similar restaurants.

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P
Chicago
89 reviews
Dined on April 20, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great menu...delicious food...attentive staff.

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MG
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on March 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Tamales is the perfect neighborhood Mexican joint! Jeff, the owner, takes time to get to know his customers and welcomes most by name, something you don’t get very often anymore. The food is excellent and you never leave hungry! Great variety so you always find something good. And don’t skip the margaritas! Jeff’s special blend will have you coming back for more.

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CC
Chicago
12 reviews
Dined on March 26, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Creative appetizers and entrees. All well plated and attractive. The meals were served promptly and with explanations of each dish by the server - we enjoyed all including the shrimp dishes and the best duck tacos I have ever enjoyed.
The bread pudding for desert is not to be missed.
We will be back on a regular basis.

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VH
Chicago
1 review
Dined on March 3, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Tamales is fantastic. Great food, staff, and atmosphere. Never disappointed.

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RC
Chicago
50 reviews
Dined on February 16, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 3ambience 3

Good selection for Mexican food. Was a tight fit for seating and as a result heard everyone’s conversations.

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OT
Chicago
10 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 4

The service was wonderful and the owner is very nice always making sure everyone is happy and has what they need . It a small place but nice size tables , traditional
Dishes very good and non even better , I love the goat cheese quesadillas great to share ,
Food is a good price but mixed drink a little pricey ,
And always ask if there is a price add on

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SC
Chicago
16 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We go to Tamales often. Great food and service every time. Local gem.

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MJ
Chicago
3 reviews
Dined on January 27, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

Great food! I had the chile rellenos and it was terrific. My wife had the veggie burrito which was enormous and delicious. They make a solid margarita, too. The service, as always, was excellent. The owner, Jeff, could not have been any warmer or more generous. We love Tamales!

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