Breakfast tacos, migas, and tons of queso. Yes, it’s true that these are among the tastiest Tex-Mex hits in Austin, but Mexican food goes well beyond these local favorites. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying Americanized versions of authentic Mexican dishes (you’ll find plenty of ’em on this list), you’d be missing out if you didn’t keep an open mind (and receptive palate) about the country’s full spectrum of creative cuisine.
Whether you’re craving chicken enchiladas, cochinita pibil, burritos, chile rellenos, homemade tortilla chips with fresh guacamole, or something you’ve never tried before, this guide will get your mouth watering and your feet walking to the best Mexican food in Austin.
The Best Mex in Town? Try These 12 Places Now
Digging into delicious Mexican food should certainly be considered among the top attractions and activities to do in the capital city of Texas. Fortunately, there’s plenty for you to choose from, starting with this list of the best Austin restaurants for Mexican food. (FYI, a number of these places also earn a top spot on the best tacos in Austin guide.)
Focusing on authentic Mexican food from Oaxaca, El Naranjo is an award-winning restaurant on Rainey Street that turns out some of the most delicious regional dishes this side of the border. Try the famed mole (that’s moh-lay) made with some 30 different ingredients, ceviche that changes with the seasons, and Niman Ranch carne asada. Housed within a renovated bungalow, El Naranjo is just as good for a date-night dinner as it is for Sunday brunch with the fam. Hey, if this food is good enough to be on the cover of “Bon Appetit” magazine, then it’s good enough to be in your belly.
Fonda San Miguel
For a sophisticated take on classic Mexican cuisine, Fonda San Miguel on West North Loop is a must. Bright, spacious, and airy, this hacienda-style spot offers a sizable menu of dishes that spans everything from authentic antojitos and pollo rostizado to four different types of enchiladas and three types of rellenos. Enjoy it all with a variety of cocktails (hello, margaritas) and beer.
Ask any local worth their weight in queso which Mexican food item is a must in Austin and the answer will be breakfast tacos. Ask any local where to get the best breakfast tacos in town and there’s a good chance Pueblo Viejo will be among their answers. Tacos filled with scrambled eggs, chorizo, potatoes, and cheese are all on offer here, along with other Mexican favorites. The low-key East Austin location is worth checking out — the tiny kitchen and counter is actually inside the North Door event and concert venue.
Veracruz All Natural
Tacos, smoothies, and juices? Yes, please. With a handful of locations (both brick-and-mortar and food trailers) throughout Austin, Veracruz All Natural isn’t just a local go-to spot for tacos, quesadillas, and tortas. It’s also a cross-cultural (and female empowering) success story — the restaurants are owned by two sisters who emigrated from Veracruz, Mexico to make their American dream come true. How great is that? Speaking of great, don’t forget to wash down your food with one of their sweet and refreshing agua frescas.
Another favorite on Austin’s east side, Suerte (which means “luck” in Spanish) is a winning choice for modern takes on Mexican classics — think Wagyu carne asada with fried mushrooms and fennel masa dumplings with crispy duck skin. Don’t miss out on the assortment of tequilas, mezcals, and cocktails, which are perfect for weeknight happy hour (or, as they say, “lucky hour”) and weekend brunch.
Located inside a charmingly rustic bungalow with an outdoor patio, Licha’s Cantina is where you go to feel cozy and be well-fed. The “Mexican soul food cooking” focuses on Mexico City-style dishes that include cochinita pibil, shrimp tlacoyo with mole, and sopes de lengua (aka tongue). The fun and welcoming vibe will make you feel at home while the food and drinks (there’s a whole selection of tequila, mezcal, and more) will make you feel as though you just took a trip to Mexico City.
For a delicious, ingredient-driven meal inside a pretty, modern, and colorful space, La Condesa in Downtown Austin is just the ticket. Start with the fresh-made guacamole and chips as well as a variety of tasty appetizers before indulging in entrees that include carne asada, roasted chicken, and fish.
There’s also a fantastic vegan option (pictured above) called hongos a la parilla. It’s a large plate of oak-grilled exotic mushrooms served with refried white beans, mint chimichurri, arbol chili, and your choice of homemade tortillas. The margaritas and other cocktails are also worth checking out.
This South Austin spot is another winner for fresh, modern Mexican fare that doesn’t disappoint. (Also not disappointing: the views from the rooftop.) Located on Barton Springs Road in a multi-use complex, El Alma serves up favorites like queso fundido, ceviche, empanadas, tostadas, enchiladas, tacos, and chile rellenos. Specialties include grilled adobo pork chops and pescado a la plancha (red fish sauteed in garlic chili butter). There’s also brunch, lunch, and happy hour (everyday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.), so anytime is a good time to stop by.
Matt’s El Rancho
The self-proclaimed (and pretty much undisputed) “original Austin-style Tex-Max” eatery, Matt’s El Rancho has been a beloved Austin fixture ever since opening its doors in 1952. While the enchiladas and margaritas are a winning combination, the legendary Bob Armstrong queso is the stuff that cheesy dreams are made of. If you can tear yourself away from the queso, you’d also do well with the quesadillas, flautas, tacos, fajitas (from vegan-friendly veggies and mushrooms to Angus beef, shrimp, and chicken) and beyond.
Maria’s Taco Xpress
Opened more than 20 years ago on South Lamar, Maria’s Taco Express is another Austin institution for comforting Mexican fare. The tiny street tacos and breakfast specialties (chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, steak and egg burritos) are certainly a draw, but the free weekly live music and “keep Austin weird” vibe are part of why locals and visitors just love this place.
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
11500 Manchaca Rd., Austin, TX 78748
Leave it to Austin to have a one-stop shop for tacos, Tex-Mex, and barbecue. Proving that you don’t need a swanky setting to take your food seriously, Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ food trailer offers creatively gourmet twists on classics. High-quality ingredients like grass-fed natural Angus beef and Berkridge Berkshire pork is what you’ll find in your brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, while the pulled pollo with habanero salsa and beer-beef fajita tacos keep the Tex-Mex vibe alive.
Say cheese! There’s a reason Torchy’s Tacos has an ever-growing list of locations scattered around Texas (15 and counting just in Austin) as well as Colorado, Oklahoma, and Arkansas — people just can’t get enough of the tacos and queso. Sure, it’s not the most authentic Mexican food on this list, but the sheer variety of tacos and other menu items keeps the crowds coming back for more.
The Best Mexican Food in Austin Is Waiting for You
From authentic Mexican food to Tex-Mex favorites, the bottom line is that there is plenty of delicious Mexican food in Austin. Whether you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something new in a chic setting, or you just feel like filling up on a tasty tacos at your local food truck, the eating is good in the ATX neighborhood. Where are some of your favorite spots for Mexican food in Austin? Drop a comment below to let us know!