Austin is a food destination for many types of cuisine, but one of its pride points is the crazy amount of great Mexican and Tex-Mex food you can find nearly anywhere in the city. Start narrowing down your search for the best Mexican restaurants in the Texas capital with this list.
Casa Maria is one of Austin’s best-kept secrets. Tucked away in a nondescript shopping center in a densely Mexican populated neighborhood on South 1st Street, it can be hard to find a parking spot on many weekend nights here as the restaurant is usually brimming with patrons. Try the al pastor tacos with the queso flameado as an appetizer. The highly regarded bakery attached to the restaurant means you won’t have to venture far for dessert; save room for the tres leches cake.
Fonda San Miguel has been a North Austin staple serving fine, authentic Mexican cuisine since 1975. Detail is everything here, from the ornate building decorated down to every corner to Instagram-worthy cocktails and plated entrées. Don’t miss the pollo en mole poblano, calamares, and handmade corn and flour tortillas. They also boast a renowned brunch buffet on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; reservations are highly recommended.
There’s a constant debate about where to find the best breakfast tacos in Austin, but Pueblo Viejo’s no-frills trailer has yet to disappoint. For just $2.50 each, you can start your morning off right with one of their specialty offerings, like the Taco Don Chago, which comes with beans, cheese, bacon, and avocado. Or create a custom taco for around the same price. Pueblo Viejo is known for more than their breakfast, though; stop by for a quick lunch and grab the Taco Nes, made with steak, chorizo, grilled onion, and fresh cilantro and lime.
When you need your margarita fix but also want to impress on date night, check out the upscale La Condesa restaurant in downtown Austin. The space itself is enough to almost make you forget about the food; must-haves include the street corn, four types of guacamole sampler (one comes topped with crab meat!), and an el cúbico with a volcanic-saffron-infused salt rim to wash it all down. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time as there is usually little room left for walk-ins.
Steak Tampiqueño at Licha's Cantina | Courtesy of Licha's Cantina
Licha’s Cantina is perfect for when you want to steer away just a bit from the traditional dishes found at many Mexican restaurants. This spot resides in what was once a residential house on the east side, and the owners seek to make guests feel as though they are truly being welcomed into their home. The menu relies heavily on the use of fresh masa – made daily in-house – prepared with a variety of proteins and spices. Regulars rave about the sopecitos aguacate and sopecitos lengua, best enjoyed on a lovely day in the expansive and colorful backyard seating area.
Grizzelda’s is one of Austin’s newest restaurants but is already making waves as one of the best upscale Mexican spots in town. Owned by the same team behind Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile, the bright, tropical décor at Grizzelda’s reflects the same intricate level of detail as the former. Check out the artfully made chile relleno, extremely fresh tostadas de atun and ceviche, and expansive list of tequilas and mezcals.