Taco Omakase: Where Street Food Meets Chef’s Table

Taco de Suadero at Cariño Chicago. Photo: Brenda Storch

Omakase, that Japanese tradition which essentially means ‘I’m in your hands,’ feels like getting the VIP nod in a place where everybody knows your name—but here, it’s the chef who locks eyes with you and without a word, promises, ‘I’ve got this.’

Your job? Simply sit back, relax, and let the chef’s choice sweep you off your feet. Now, picture the omakase approach with a twist: taco omakase is a brilliant mash-up where the chef’s table meets the street food scene, each taco a surprise waiting to unravel.

I recently had the chance to dive into this at Cariño in Chicago (check out my article on Eater Chicago), where you can snag one of just seven coveted spots at the counter. Suddenly, you’re in the front row for Chef Norman Fenton’s culinary concert. The setlist? A lineup that swings between 8 and 12 courses, each act more thrilling than the last, all set to the rhythm of Mexico’s underground beats.

Masa shines as the headliner, transforming into an array of show-stopping numbers that each carry a whisper of tradition with a dash of bold. From a Wagyu beef taco with a salsa that will leave you downright speechless to a menu as unpredictable as it is thrilling, the whole experience is a roller coaster ride of comfort, excitement, and outright joy. Chef Fenton’s love affair with Mexican cuisine and overall culture is palpable, making every visit to Cariño (a term for affection in Spanish) not just a meal but an unforgettable journey of discovery and a celebration of cariño at every turn.

The offering is a great deal at $125 per person, which includes 2 cocktails and tip.