The best Mexican restaurants in Austin (2024)

The best Mexican restaurants in Austin (1)

Where to find the tastiest tacos, elote, migas and tamales in Austin right now

Photograph: Courtesy Polvos

Written by James Wong

Contributors: Dan Gentile & Alex Temblador

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If there’s any cuisine Austin does best, it’s Mexican. This is the state that brought Tex-Mex to the world, after all, so you know maize is ingrained in culinary culture. The locals get their fix pretty much all day, every day, for any darn occasion, be it a grab-and-go from a food truck or a margarita-fueled patio party at Barton Springs. When there’s a Mexican restaurant at every turn, there are no excuses.

Y’all in the mood for the meats? The cochinita pibil’s smokin’ just right over at Fonda San Miguel and Suerte. How about a reliable lunchtime counter? There are seven Veracruz All Natural locations to which you can get accustomed. And if you’re looking for an extra special spot to swoon the boo over some tangy ceviche and warm duck enmoladas, expect to be spoiled for choice, downtown and beyond. No matter how spicy you like it, there's a Mexican restaurant in Austin for you.

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This guide was updated by Austin-based writer James Wong. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.

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Best Mexican restaurants in Austin

1.La Condesa
  • Mexican
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy La Condesa

La Condesa’s been knocking around since 2009, and the patio’s more the life of the downtown party than it ever has been before. The restaurant serves a hip take on traditional Mexican fare in a dazzling space. A vibrant, oversized mural frames the dining room where trendy Austinites dig (and dig into) the restaurant’s signature mole, a specialty that takes three days to cook. The patio, which overlooks Guadalupe Street, is perhaps one of the city's few truly urban-feeling brunch and happy hour destinations—come for the incredible churro waffles, and stay all afternoon for sweet deals on tacos and (mostly tequila-based) drinks.

2.El Alma
  • Mexican
  • Bouldin
  • price 3 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy El Alma

Although Barton Springs Road has plenty of family-friendly (tourist-friendly) dining options, it hasn’t always drawn restaurants with serious culinary reputations. El Alma's sprawling, multitiered footprint is a step in the right direction— its well-rounded menu offers a refreshing variety of tacos (like lamb barbacoa and shrimp al pastor) and hearty entrees to refuel after swimming. Don't miss the duck enchiladas, their most popular dish, served with pasilla molé and almonds, and experiment with the flavored margaritas that use bases such as mango, watermelon, and avocado.

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3.Veracruz All Natural
  • Trucks
  • East Cesar Chavez
  • price 1 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy Veracruz All Natural

Veracruz All Natural, helmed by sisters Reyna and Maritza Vazquez, has mastered both the Mexican restaurant and the taco trailer. Universally beloved for their migas and al pastor, their trailers set themselves apart from Austin’s other taco trucks thanks to super fresh ingredients and little additions like housemade chips and juices. Their loyal following continues to their brick-and-mortar locations in Tarrytown, Round Rock, and the busiest within The Line Hotel in downtown Austin.

4.El Naranjo
  • Mexican
  • Town Lake
  • price 3 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy El Naranjo

El Naranjo began as a food trailer on Rainey Street before becoming an over-run bar district. The owners, Oaxacan ex-pats (who still return to lead regular culinary tours), now operate a brick-and-mortar in Austin’s South Lamar neighborhood where their Mexican roots shine on plates like seasonal ceviche and a pair of standout molé dishes (lighter amarillo and a 30-ingredient negro). They make their own tortillas from scratch, too: it’s stone-ground here in the restaurant every day, using heirloom corn imported from various regions in Mexico.

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5.Fonda San Miguel
  • Rosedale
Photograph: Courtesy Fonda San Miguel/Paul Bardagjy

Fonda San Miguel may be a classic, but its flavors have never gone out of style. Since 1975, the colorful Allandale institution, adorned with a museum's worth of sculptural art, has celebrated the entirety of Mexican cuisine since day one. From cochinita pibil of the Yucatan, to broiled fish of Vera Cruz, regional specialties are prepared with flair and seasoned technique. Ask about the weekly specials, including sweets and pastries, to mix up your usual.

6.Masa y Más

The best Mexican restaurants in Austin (14)
The best Mexican restaurants in Austin (15)

One of South Lamar’s newer taquerias, Masa y Más, is already a firm favorite, with locals clamoring to get a dose of their signature papas rellenas, tortas, and bowls. Why? Because it has grandma’s magic touch! Chef Campos cooks them up just like his grandmother did, even the flour and yellow and blue corn tortillas, which are all made in-house. Don’t miss the slow-roasted barbacoa from Guerrero and Mexico City-style suadero. Masa y Màs is a counter-service style restaurant with a dining room.

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7.ATX Cocina
  • Mexican
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy Bethany Ross Photography

Shoppers who need a break from 2nd Street can settle in at ATX Cocina, a modern Mexican oasis where chef Kevin Taylor puts a gourmet spin on quesadillas and the like. Go for the sopes layered with cochinita pibil, smoked beans, xnipek and salsa verde, or dip into elevated queso fundido at the crudo bar on their breezy patio. Everything is gluten-free. It may be one of the more upscale Mexican restaurants (you’ll need to dress accordingly), but they don’t skimp on portion size, at least not on mains. The house Paloma is brilliant. It is made with grapefruit in four ways: as a foam, juice, and simple syrup, and infused in reposado tequila.

8.Polvos

The best Mexican restaurants in Austin (18)
The best Mexican restaurants in Austin (19)

It’s hard to resist joining the fiesta at downtown’s colorful Polvos restaurant: like La Condesa it’s always packed with locals knocking together pitchers of margaritas, dipping salsa, and of course, noshing on great big plates of authentic Mexican cuisine. First-timers should try the ceviche de pescado, rich mahi-mahi in Polvos’ addictive house sauce, and the extra hungry can get their fill on the steak polvos, an 8-ounce ribeye served with an enchilada of your choice. In addition to the downtown outpost, there are two other locations, South Austin and Barton Creek.

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9.Mi Madre's Restaurant
  • Mexican
  • Blackland
  • price 1 of 4

Manor Road is a hub for breakfast tacos. Although Chilito's Cherrywood is a neighborhood favorite, the homestyle approach at Mi Madre’s makes their migas taste as if a loving parent made them. For years, Mi Madre’s only served breakfast and lunch, but the street's boom in the last few years led to an expansion—finally, dinner service is on the table. You’ll find appetizers like their spiced Mi Madre queso, and mains like the Carne Guisada, a braised beef stew with Mexican rice and refried beans, and the Chicken Poblano, a creamy covered grilled chicken with melted cheeses and black beans.

10.Habanero Mexican Café
  • Mexican
  • Bouldin Creek
  • price 1 of 4

Although it shuts down at 3 pm, sunlight pours into Habanero Cafe during breakfast and lunch as a melting pot of South Austinites digs into some of the best no-frills Mexican food in town. Most of the decor comes from beer companies, but the vintage neon signs and tiled Corona mosaics add to its homestyle charm. Don't miss the chicken fajitas, made with a thick rub of chile powder that debunks the misconception that all fajitas are created equal. Add fried jalapeños to side. It's cash-only here, but the lunch specials make filling up for less than a Hamilton easy.

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11.El Taquito
  • Mexican
  • Riverside
Photograph: Courtesy El Taquito

Riverside is a hotbed of traditional Mexican joints and with much respect to Taco More's salsa bar and goat soup, the most charming spot is El Taquito. Perched high above street level, the restaurant—founded by Tamaulipas immigrants—has dished late-night taquitos by the half dozen since 1995. The restaurant’s late closing time (1 am on weekends) makes it a winning alternative to the strip's fast food chains with an undeniably great al pastor taco. An extended menu of quesos fundido and enchiladas also makes it more than just a taco spot, and the market-style option to buy meat by the pound can turn your kitchen into a legit taqueria (just don't forget the onions and cilantro). Also at Pflugerville.

12.Suerte
  • Mexican
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

Photograph: Lindsay Mason

Suerte serves authentic Mexican cuisine with a contemporary edge over on East Austin. Using local heirloom corn, Chef Fermin Nunez crafts seasonally driven dishes like smoked goat barbacoa with handmade tortillas and tetela al carbon. A sizable mezcal and tequila menu is available, and you'll find both spirits in Suerte's specialty co*cktails: for an incredibly refreshing drink, the Nada Paloma is made with mezcal, tequila blanco, and housemade grapefruit soda.

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13.Taco Pegaso

The best Mexican restaurants in Austin (24)
The best Mexican restaurants in Austin (25)

This fairly recent concept, located within the Fareground food hall, is led by James Beard-nominated chef Richard Sandoval and executive chef Albert Gonzalez. It’s Mexican street food at its very best: familiar yet totally authentic, the menu is packed with flavor. You’ll find tacos served with charred tomato salsa, burritos filled with Chicken Tinga, caramel-filled churros and cheesecakes, and staple drinks like aguas frescas in hibiscus or housemade horchata.

14.La Piscina

The best Mexican restaurants in Austin (26)
The best Mexican restaurants in Austin (27)

La Piscina, within downtown’s swanky Proper Hotel, is one of the more stylish Mexican eateries, ideal for date night. Being perched next to a rooftop pool transports guests away from the desert and to a glimmering resort. The team elevates classic Mexican dishes; some are in Tex-Mex style, but others are authentically Mexican with modern presentation. Start with the fresh baja oysters, share the sizzling fajitas, and end with the housemade churros. An extensive small-batch tequila and mezcal list can be found at the bar.

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