Did Someone Say Tacos?


Did Someone Say Tacos?

By Cheryl Fusco Johnson | May 21, 2021

After months at home baking bread and reading cozy mysteries, I wasn’t sure how to dip my paddle back into the current of everyday life. Would I remember how to converse with people outside Zoom? An assignment to blog about tacos served by restaurants in or near Fairfield provided the perfect conversational gambit—talking tacos!

During a 7:45 AM appointment, my dental hygienist and I were understandably quiet. After a quick rinse and spit, I blurted, “Where do you like to buy tacos?”

Brightening, the hygienist answered, “Pecks Pub of Libertyville.” She added, “These aren’t your usual tacos. They’re fried. On busy weeknights they make a good family dinner,” she explained.

Later, online, I discovered Pecks serves tacos Tuesdays from 4PM to 9PM. Fellow blogger Donna Kinderis Cronce and I decided to visit Peck’s the following Tuesday.

The next day, walking laps around Fairfield’s lush Chautauqua Park, I asked my friend Marianne, a retired physician, about her favorite taco place. “Arandas,” she replied. “The food is fresh and healthy, and the service is efficient,” she reported.

At Arandas Mexican Restaurant, Marianne orders taco salad; it’s served with beans, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and chicken, steak, or ground beef. Marianne, who studied Spanish in Cuernavaca, enjoys speaking Spanish with the staff. She also likes the murals in Arandas.

When the kids in my life were younger, we often popped into Arandas for after-school snacks of fish tacos. Yum! Other taco choices include pork, chicken, shrimp, steak, and ground beef. My husband and his coworkers have celebrated birthdays with lunches at Arandas. Everyone found something they enjoyed in its extensive menu. Arandas is open 11 AM to 9 PM Mondays through Thursdays and 11 AM to 10 PM Fridays and Saturdays. It has ample indoor and outdoor seating.

Many people I chatted with praised Taco Dreams. Opened in November 2020 by Emily O’Connor, it’s streamlined for quick service. Orders can be placed and paid for online, then picked up inside Fairfield’s Breadtopia building (formerly Harper Brush). Weekdays from 11 AM to 2:30 PM, Taco Dreams prepares takeout lunches. Recently added, new white picnic tables provide convenient outdoor seating.

O’Connor’s inserted fun surprises in her regular menu. The Muscatine is a Maid-Rite-inspired taco crafted from grass-fed beef, Maid-Rite spices, mustard sauce, pickles, and an heirloom corn tortilla. Delicious! She also offers a jackfruit taco, an organic chicken taco, a spiced ground beef taco, and—my favorite—a black bean and guacamole taco. Her tortilla soup is excellent. Her Mexican Street Corn Salad looks good, too. Check out Taco Dreams’ popup specials—like Mahi-Mahi tacos—on its Facebook page.

Tuesday, I phoned in Pecks Pub take-out orders at 4:45 PM. Donna and I picked them up 15 minutes later. Pecks has lots of indoor seating and a small table on its porch.

My dental hygienist was right: these aren’t your usual tacos! They were huge, lopsided, and tantalizingly fragrant. Donna’s was beef. Mine was chicken. Both were delicious.

Later, Pecks’ manager Jackie Poe explained that Pecks’ staff makes the dough for the Indian fry bread themselves. She said, “We let it rise, and when someone places an order, we take the dough out of the bowl.” She told me that Pecks’ cook Jeremiah Zvacek layers the shaped dough with cooked chicken or beef before it’s lowered into the fryer. “Once the tacos are golden and crispy, we take them out,” Poe said. “The meat, from Moore’s Grocery in Douds, is cooked fresh every day, and all the veggies are prepped the day they’re served,” she added.

I haven’t yet visited every restaurant that serves tacos in or near Fairfield. Still, it’s already clear that if you’re hungry for tacos, many delicious options await you here.

UPDATE Oct 2022; Check out these additional locations that specialize in tasty Mexican food and tacos. La Cocina de Martina sets up in the True Value parking lot on West Burlington and always draws a big crowd. La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant is a local favorite, also located on West Burlington.

Meet the Author

Photo of Cheryl Fusco Johnson

Cheryl Fusco Johnson

Formerly a radio show host and creative writing teacher, I’m captivated by how people express their creativity via the arts, crafts, recreational pursuits, and entrepreneurship.