The Best Mexican Restaurants in Memphis, Tennessee

While Memphis is known for its Southern cuisine, you’ll have no trouble finding authentic Mexican dishes
While Memphis is known for its Southern cuisine, you’ll have no trouble finding authentic Mexican dishes | © Carmen K. Sisson/Cloudybright / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Erin Austen Abbott
6 October 2020

Memphis, while famous for its Southern cuisine, has another, spicier side to its food that shouldn’t be overlooked. From Summer Avenue to Overton Square, the city is rich with hole-in-the-wall cantinas and taquerias. Culture Trip rounds up the top places to go for Mexican food in Memphis.

Elena’s Taco Shop

Restaurant, Mexican
Map View

This California-style taco shop stays true to its roots, offering fresh ingredients in every dish it serves. Try the carne asada or grilled chicken burrito with guacamole and pico de gallo, accompanied by a side of french fries. If you’re looking for a little bit of several flavors, order the carne asada fries, fish tacos and Elena’s tacos to bring that SoCal taste to your table.

Maciel’s Tortas and Tacos

Restaurant, Mexican
Map View

In the heart of downtown Memphis, you’ll find Maciel’s Tortas and Tacos. It’s a no-frills spot, focusing on the food instead, and offers upstairs, downstairs and outdoor dining. If the weather allows, it’s also fun to get takeout and walk down to the Mississippi River a few blocks away for a picnic. While most people come for the tacos, don’t overlook the complimentary chips and salsa, both made in-house. When narrowing down the tacos, make sure the al pastor and chipotle shrimp varieties are on your order. Wash it all down with a Mexican Coca-Cola.

Babalu

Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
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Babalu is great for an evening out with friends in the trendy Overton Square. It’s hip, and you are sure to enjoy the people-watching in this Midtown restaurant. It mixes Southern staples with a Latin flair, bringing both tastes together. The tableside guacamole – made with perfectly ripe avocados and a blend of onions, herbs and spices – is a crowd favorite. Babalu leans in more to the tapas side, with many dishes meant to be served family-style.

Taqueria La Guadalupana

Restaurant, Mexican
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Torta Cubana
© Jeswin Thomas / Unsplash

The dishes at Taqueria La Guadalupana aren’t trying to be anything fancy – they are authentic and full of flavor. The ambiance is laid back and casual, while the food will leave you wanting to try everything on the menu. You can’t go wrong with any of the tacos or the torta Cubana.

Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana

Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
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Las Tortugas is a place that people return to time and time again for its fresh flavors and ingredients. With items such as filet mignon tacos and king crab tacos, the food is hearty and delicious. Make sure to try the elote (corn on the cob with various seasonings) and watermelon agua fresca. If you feel overwhelmed by the menu choices, ask your server for a suggestion – it will be a good one. While it’s on the pricier side, it’s worth every penny.

La Michoacana Ice Cream and Paletas

Ice Cream Parlour, Mexican
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Another must-stop on the tour of Summer Ave is La Michoacana Ice Cream and Paletas. The spacious establishment offers a variety of Mexican sweets, including paletas in flavors such as avocado, spicy mango, strawberries and cream (made with real slices of strawberries), and coconut. You’ll also find tasty ice-cream options, such as sweet corn and tres leches, or pineapple with cheese. Make sure to ask for samples so that you can get a little taste of all the flavors. You can dip the paletas in chocolate, too, which only adds a more complex layer for your taste buds.

Caminos de Michoacan

Bakery, Restaurant, Mexican
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If you are heading out of town and need some goodies for the road, load up with a box of Mexican pastries at Caminos de Michoacan. Not far from Midtown, this unassuming restaurant serves a hearty breakfast, both savory and sweet. Bakery shelves on the back wall are brimming with delicious treats, such as conchas (sweet bread rolls), cajeta empanadas (filled with a Mexican caramel sauce), banderas (coconuts sweets), orejas (puff-pastry cookies) and so much more. If you are staying for breakfast or lunch, make sure to try the salsa that everyone is always talking about, both red and green. Mix them for an added layer of flavor. It also has telenovelas playing in the restaurant at all times, giving you another element of Latin charm.

These recommendations were updated on October 6, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.