Photo: Bakersfield OTR
May 5th is pretty much the same as any other day in Mexico. A minor holiday south of the border, it marks Mexico’s defeat of France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Few Mexicans outside of Puebla (the home of mole poblano!) bother celebrating it.
But here in the U.S., thanks to those brilliant marketers working for beer companies and other brands back in the ‘80s, we’ve come to embrace Cinco de Mayo as a celebration of Mexican food, beer, tequila, culture, and more food.
Not that we need a reason to scarf down more tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and whatever other Americanized or authentic Mexican dish we’ve come to love. As a nation, we’ve fueled the growth and popularity of food trucks, hole-in-the-wall taquerias, fast food joints, and white-linen Mexican restaurants across the country. About 38,000 places serving Mexican food have sprung up in every state as of 2011, beating out the number of Italian and Chinese restaurants in the country, according to ABC News and the U.S. Census Bureau.
To help target the best of those 38,000 (and we’re sure the number’s higher today), Yahoo Food worked with Yelp to formulate a list of 46 of the highest ranked Mexican eateries — based on user ratings and number of reviews— in every region of the country. This is far from a definitive “best of” list, but we hope it serves as a roadmap that will lead you to new discoveries, new food, and new experiences any day of the year.
Tacos El Gordo’s coveted chorizo taco. (Photo: Tacos El Gordo, Facebook)
California: Tacos El Gordo, 689 H Street, Chula Vista; 4.5 stars, 1687 reviews.
At Tacos El Gordo there’s one line for the famous adobada and another for the chorizo, carne asada, lengua, cabeza, buche, and other meats. Make sure to bring a friend. You’ll want to cover both lines at once (especially on busy nights) and load up on everything. Don’t forget to ask for pineapple with the adobada and the grilled green onions and peppers with everything else. Super-fresh ingredients and tender, tasty meats make these among the very best tacos served in the San Diego area. “It’s everything you could ask for in a taqueria,” says Steve N. of Orange County, echoing the sentiment of most other Yelpers who make Tacos El Gordo a regular stop.
Yelp’s other top-ranked Mexican restaurants in California:
Adobo Taco Grill, 5695 Woodruff Avenue, Lakewood; 5 stars, 264 reviews.
Los Agaves, 600 North Milpas Street , Santa Barbara; 4.5 stars, 1355 reviews.
Zacatecas Restaurant, 13737 Inglewood Avenue, Hawthorne; 4.5 stars, 690 reviews.
Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, 703 Turquoise Street, San Diego; 4.5 stars, 1340 reviews.
Santos Lucha Libre’s veggie tostado. Photo: Santos Lucha Libre, Facebook
Arizona: Santos Lucha Libre, 9822 North 7th Street, Phoenix; 5 stars, 263 reviews.
Squires of the squared circle! Rulers of ring! Titans of the turnbuckle! Santos Lucha Libra deserves the belt for serving up some of the best tacos and one-pound burritos in Phoenix. The wrestling motif also adds a little extra spice to this Sunnyslope fave. The good folks behind the counter will even give out samples of the chicken, pork and pork to Santos newbies. Choose you level of heat and then build things up with black or pinto beans, roasted corn, pickled or diced onions, and a variety of salsas. “This was one of my favorite meals … ever,” writes Anne S. of Richmond, Va.
Yelp’s other top-ranked Mexican restaurants in Arizona:
Tortilla Fish, 1320 W. Elliot Road, Tempe; 4.5 stars, 194 reviews.
La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop, 1919 N. 16th Street, Phoenix; 4.5 stars, 674 reviews.
Elote Cafe, 771 State Route 179, Sedona; 4.5 stars, 960 reviews.
Los Tacos No. 1′s chicken and steak combo. (Photo: Los Tacos No. 1)
New York: Los Tacos No. 1, Chelsea Market, 75 9th Avenue; 4.5 stars, 596 reviews.
If you’re gonna call your restaurant Los Tacos No. 1, it better be damn good. Turns out this stand tucked in the Chelsea Market is more than good. Yelpers from the West Coast and south-of-the-border Mex hot spots say this place delivers with authentic, fresh, and flavorful steak, chicken, pork and cactus tacos, and tostados, as well as quesadillas and mulas. “Any more authentic and you’d be on a dirt road in Mexico. Best tacos I’ve had in the U.S., period,”writes Marcus S. of Montgomery, N.Y. Yelpers aren’t deterred by the long lines (especially around lunchtime) and fairly steep prices ($3 to $3.75 per taco). “It was mind-blowing good!” writes Sarah P.
And now for something different: El Dorado Cantina’s Chicken Feinstein. (Photo: El Dorado Cantina)
Nevada: El Dorado Cantina, 3025 Industrial Road, Las Vegas; 4.5 stars, 439 reviews.
El Dorado Cantina scores big with Yelpers for using organic and non-GMO ingredients, which often include the name of the farm or producer they’re sourced from. Chef Paco, who’ll probably visit your table to see how you’re doing, goes out of his way to offer plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes, all at reasonable prices. Standouts include the Chicken Feinstein, with crispy onions, serrano chiles, fried eggs, and house potatoes, and Paco’s chicken mole sample. “Fresh ingredients, skillfully prepared … the flavor palettes are so much deeper and nuanced than you find at most Mexican-influenced,” writes Jeremie S. of Denver.
Yelp’s other top-ranked Mexican restaurants in Nevada:
Juan’s Flaming Fajitas & Cantina, 9640 West Tropicana, Las Vegas, 4.5 stars, 378 reviews.
Mariscos Playa Escondida, 1203 E. Charleston Boulevard, Las Vegas; 4.5 stars, 158 reviews.
Tacos El Gordo, 1724 East Charleston Boulevard, Las Vegas; 4.5 stars, 631 reviews.
Frijoles & Frescas Grilled Tacos, 7000 W. Charleston Boulevard, Las Vegas; 4.5 stars, 208 reviews.
Restaurante Yesenia, 581 E. Moana Lane, Reno; 4.5 stars, 124 reviews.
Tacos and baby burritos at Tacos Chukis. (Photo: Tacos Chukis)
Washington: Tacos Chukis, 219 Broadway East, Seattle; 4.5 stars, 453 reviews.
If you have trouble finding Tacos Chukis, keep trying. Yelpers and other aficionados of Seattle’s Mexican food scene say it’s worth the search. “Taco Chukis comes as close to making the perfect taco as I’ve seen,” writes local Shane B. Tucked within the nooks and crannies of the Broadway Alley mall on Capitol Hill, The place has built up a strong following with what reviewers say is perfectly seasoned beef, chicken, pork, and cactus. Tacos Chukis also takes extra care to balance all the ingredients that make up the tacos, mulitas, baby burritos, and quesadillas. “Every item is so amazing!” says Eder R. of Auburn.
Yelp’s other top-ranked Mexican restaurant in Washington:
El Balcon, 326 Pacific Avenue, Bremerton 4.5 stars, 164 reviews.
Capital Tacos’ El Cubano. Photo: Capital Tacos
Most restaurants and taquerias on this list stick to a traditional combination of ingredients. Not Capital Tacos. With 16 signature tacos, burritos, bowls, Capital keeps the crowds coming with its mixes, mash-ups, and blends. “The tacos are put together in such a way you would never ever think all of it would mesh together so perfectly,” says Rachel M. of Wesley Chapel. But somehow it all does. Standouts include the Mean Verde, with fried avocado and refried pinto beans; the Johnny Reb, with smoked sausage and street corn; the Texas Flood, with beef brisket and chipotle BBQ sauce; and the Longrider, with seared ahi tuna. “The food is just amazing,” writes Ash P. of New Port Richie. “Unique flavors and ingredients.”
Yelp’s other top-ranked Mexican restaurants in Florida:
El Guanaco, 331 N.E. 44th Street, Oakland Park; 4.5 stars, 261 reviews.
Alegria Tacos, 3801 N. Andrews Ave., Oakland Park; 4.5 stars, 260 reviews.
Border Grill Fresh-Mex, 5695-A Vineland Road, Orlando; 4.5 stars, 360 reviews.
Si Senor Fresh Mex, 3546 St. Johns Bluff Road, Jacksonville; 4.5 stars, 147 reviews.
Just one of Red Iguana’s pescado dishes. Photo: Red Iguana
Utah: Red Iguana, 736 W. N. Temple, Salt Lake City; 4.5 stars, 1303 reviews.
Red Iguana’s menu is packed with classics, signature tacos, combo plates, gourmet burritos, and Marvels of Mexico. Then there are the moles, probably the restaurant’s most popular item. “Wished I could have every one,” wrote Howie C., of Fountain Valley, Calif., after he tried the tasting sampler. Other Yelper must-haves include Puntas De Filete A La Nortena, sirloin tips sautéed with bacon and served with almond mole; and enchiladas suizas, which feature two corn tortillas filled with chicken and avocado, topped with mole poblano. Finish it all off with the flan. “By far the highlight of our Salt Lake City trip!” writes Sandra R. of Las Vegas.
One of the combos from Ono Tacos. (Photo: Ono Tacos)
Hawaii: Ono Tacos, 910 Honoapiilani Highway, Lahaina; 4.5 stars, 704 reviews.
Yelpers are surprised when they find a Mexican joint on Maui. They’re even more surprised when it’s as good as Ono Tacos, an old-school food truck that focuses on the basics: tacos, burritos, tortas, quesadillas, and bacon-wrapped hotdogs. “We tried every kind of taco and loved them all!” writes Jennie L. of Kailua. Yelpers say the fish and the shrimp tacos truly shine. “These tacos are the best in the whole world,” says Kelli H. of San Clemente, Calif. Don’t forget the pickled onions and be careful of the red sauce; it’s pretty hot. The incredibly friendly service ranks as high as the food.
Finish things off with the flan at Techoch Mexican. (Photo: Techoch Mexican)
Massachusetts: Tenoch Mexican, 24 Riverside Ave., Medford; 4.5 stars 344 reviews.
Tenoch specializes in tortas but also serves up excellent tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and enchiladas. “Everything about Tenoch is top notch … all the food is phenomenal, from the breakfast burritos to the tortas,” raves local Mike M. Tenoch’s food trucks, Tenoch Móvil and El Jarocho, also roll through the streets of Boston and Cambridge. Here’s the schedule. The torta campechana with chorizo, chipotle mayo, beans, onions, tomatoes and avocado is a Yelp favorite. “Best Mexican sandwich I’ve ever eaten,” says Amanda B. of Andover.
Yelp’s other top-ranked Mexican restaurant in Massachusetts:
Taqueria El Amigo, 196 Willow Street, Waltham; 4.5 stars, 294 reviews.
The triumvirate at Tacos Tierra Caliente. Photo: Tacos Tierra Caliente
Texas: Tacos Tierra Caliente, 1919 W. Alabama Street, Houston, 4.5 stars, 362 reviews.
Authentic. Fresh. Inexpensive. Tasty. Consistent. Chances are that any adjective used to describe a sublime taco stand has already been applied to this food truck. “Delicious tacos - doesn’t matter what you order,” reports Melinda T. of Sugar Land. Whatever you get, ask for the free avocado slices. Yelpers give the Pastor, barbacoa, chicharron, lengua, and bistek high marks. “There was not a single bad bite to be found,” reported local Daniel l., after he mowed through just about all the tacos on the menu.
Yelp’s other top-ranked Mexican restaurants in Texas:
Titas Taco House, 320 Wilson Road, Humble; 5 stars, 159 reviews.
Cabo Bobs Burritos, 500 East Ben White Boulevard, Austin; 4.5 stars, 442 reviews.
Now that’s a brunch. Photo: Mas Tacos
Tennessee: Mas Tacos, 732 McFerrin Street, Nashville; 345 stars, 38 reviews.
Start things off at this Yelp fave with a cup of chicken tortilla soup. The “broth blew me away. I was not expecting to taste what I tasted,” says Justin V of Ithaca, N.Y. The creative lineup of tacos sounds just as good: pulled pork or fried fish with cabbage and dill yogurt; spicy carne molida with roasted tomatoes and fresh corn; quinoa and sweet potato with roasted tomatillo salsa; and the cast iron chicken with charred onions and jalapeños. Expect long lines and loads of hipsters. Yelpers don’t seem to mind. “I’ve had tacos in Mexico. I’ve had tacos in Guatemala. I’ve had tacos from LA food trucks and these are the best #$%*! tacos I’ve had in my life,” says Matthew L. of Delray Beach, Fla.
Mixed pork and beef tacos at El Chilango. (Photo: El Chilango)
Virginia: El Chilango, 14th St North and North Quinn Street, Arlington; 4.5 stars, 328 reviews.
Yelpers say the crew running this truck is among the nicest around. “These guys never seem to have a bad day,” says local regular D.K. They’re even known to slip you a free taco, just because they feel like it. Each El Chilango taco - asada, lengua, chorizo, al pastor, pollo, and mixto with beef and pork sausage – gets raves. “All of them were amazing,” local Marina R writes. Corey F. of Irvine even believes it was divine intervention lead him to El Chilango: “Today my prayers were answered with this discovery. Holy $%*! they do it perfect!” Well put, Corey, well put.
Yelp’s other top-ranked Mexican restaurant in Virginia:
Al Carbon Chicken, 1871 Seminole Trail, Charlottesville; 5 stars, 86 reviews.
La Cocina takes a new approach with its quinoa salad and tofu. (Photo: Christina T., Yelp)
Oregon: La Cocina Restaurant, 3939 N.E. Martin Luther King Boulevard, Portland; 4.5 stars, 147 reviews.
Whatever the folks at La Cocina are doing, they’re doing it right. Vegetarian and vegan Yelpers appreciate the La Cocina, quinoa, and cuerna salads. Fish fans love the white fish, salmon and shrimp burritos, as well as the ceviche and Seven Mares seafood stew. “This was HANDS DOWN the best Mexican food I have ever eaten,” writes Tanner A. of Lake Oswego. Carnivores are happy to dig into the chicken or carnitas mole, chicken or beef enchiladas, and the al pastor burrito, “EVERYTHING was good. Way to go La Cocina. NE Portland NEEDED you!” Yelped local Amy H.
Yelp’s other top-ranked Mexican restaurant in Oregon:
Spork, 937 N.W. Newport Avenue, Bend; 4.5 stars, 196 reviews.
Covering all the bases at El Taco Luchador. (Photo: El Taco Luchador, Facebook)
Kentucky: El Taco Luchador, 938 Baxter Avenue, Louisville; 4.5 stars, 187 reviews.
This taqueria serves up the best Mexican-style street food in Louisville, Yelpers report. The menu focuses on nine types of tacos, seven tortas and a handful of chip-salsa combos. All deliver big flavors. “Would I eat here at least 5 days a week if my scheduled allowed me to? Yes,” says Louisville local Bernadette A. If Yelpers had that option, chances are they’d order the Baja fish taco, an all-around favorite: golden fried, beer-battered fish topped with chipotle aioli and house-pickled red cabbage. Yelpers also herald the double-cooked carnitas, with guacamole, green tomatillo salsa and pickled onions; mole fries, and the sweet plantains. “… not a lackluster plate to be had,” writes local Sarah R.
.Pozole and tostadas at El Matador. (Photo: El Matador)
New Jersey: El Matador Mexican Restaurant, 258 Montgomery Street, Bloomfield; 4.5 stars 181 reviews.
No pretensions, just delicious, authentic food served up by a friendly family. Yelpers give thanks for El Matador, saying its cemitas, chilaquiles, tacos, tostadas, sopas, quesadillas, and huaraches, fill a huge gap in the local dining scene. “ … always fresh, flavorful, filling and delicious,” writes Andrew S. of Montclair. Tamales, menudo, whole fried snapper, and enchiladas rule the roost. “Everything is great. EVERYTHING!” says Gary S., Glen Ridge.
The Pantry’s Chil Rellenos. (Photo: Pantry Restaurant)
New Mexico: Pantry Restaurant, 1820 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe; 4.5 stars, 380 reviews.
If you happen to be hungry and in Santa Fe around breakfast time, do what the locals have been doing for the last 65 years: head over to the Pantry and make sure to order the famous huevos rancheros. “Hit all the right places: spicy, crunchy bacon, eggs were fresh and the beans were perfect,” writes Foodie B. of San Francisco. After breakfast, you’ll probably start thinking about coming back for lunch and dinner. Try any of the tacos, the carne adovada plate of slow-roasted pork in red chili marinade, the Frito pie, or the Santa Fe Beef Brisket. “Coming from California and being regular Mexican food connoisseurs, we felt this place was incredible,” says Dar G. of Auburn, Calif.
El Limon’s fish tacos. (Photo: Stephanie O., Yelp)
Pennsylvania: El Limon, 103 Fayette Street, Conshohocken; 4.5 stars, 400 reviews.
It seems that every other Yelp review for El Limon includes the word “best”: “best Mexican food,” “ best burrito,” “best tacos,” “best mole,” “best nachos,” “best drunk food,” “best al pastor” … Large portions, fair prices, fresh ingredients, unpretentious atmosphere, consistent quality. No wonder locals and out-of-towners think El Limon is the best in the area. “I live over an hour away and sometimes I’ll get the craving and just hop in my car. It’s that good,” promises William Y. of Philly. Friendly, efficient staff keeps the long lines moving.
Fish taco and duck mole from the White Duck. (Photo: Dynomutt, Yelp)
North Carolina: White Duck Taco Shop, 1 Roberts Street, Asheville; 4.5 stars, 392 reviews.
Looking for traditional al pastor, chorizo, polo, carne asada, or lengua? White Duck Taco probably isn’t the place. But if you’re in the mood for tacos filled with Bangkok shrimp with curry sauce, jerk chicken, black bean, steak and cheese, Thai peanut chicken, bahn mi tofu, BBQ carnitas, and specials like lump crab and mole duck, then join the crowd at this River Arts District favorite. “Delicious tacos that you cannot find anywhere else in Asheville,” writes local Emily T. Or any place else, for that matter. “Really wonderful, fresh, interesting ingredients … a little quirky,” says Stacey V., another local.
Las Tortas delivers with the La Nortena. (Brittany N., Yelp)
Colorado: Las Tortas, 5307 Leetsdale Drive, Denver; 4.5 stars, 258 reviews.
Las Tortas recipes come from Founder Guillermo Campillo pulled recipes from his family’s kitchen in Guadalajara, Mexico, to create many of the Las Tortas’ revered sandwiches. He even brought his aunt Maru to the U.S. to help create the hot and mild sauces for the Tortas Ahogadas. The family affair paid off. “This place has to be one of the best sandwich shops in Denver,” writes local Liddy G. Inexpensive and huge, the breakfast and lunch tortas dominate the menu at this clean, small busy shop. Yelpers want Campillo to keep it that way. “These cats know what they are doing around a sandy,” says J K., Englewood.
Yelp’s other top-ranked Mexican restaurant in Colorado:
Torta Grill, 1818 E Colfax Avenue, Denver; 4.5 stars, 206 reviews.
L’ Patron delivers delicious simplicity. (Photo: Scott R., Yelp)
Illinois: L’ Patron Tacos, 2815 W Diversey Avenue, Chicago; 4.5 stars, 564 reviews.
In a town filled with Mexican restaurants, Yelpers say L’ Patron rises above the competition with its fresh and flavorful tortas, tacos and burritos. The signature al pastor Gringa and carne asada Gringo, both with melted chihuahua cheese, stand out as Yelp faves. “The absolute best tacos I’ve had outside of California,” promises Diana S. of Alexandria, Va. The pescado filet with roasted serrano aioli dressed cabbage, the Lomo Encebollado rib eye and onion, and a host of traditional favorites beat back the competition. “I can see now where all the hype comes from,” local Michael C. wrote after a recent visit. Order ahead to avoid the typically long lines and brace yourself for some loud music. If the food doesn’t get you dancing the disco ball hanging from the ceiling will put you in the mood. “What’s not to love?” asks local Kate P.
Yelp’s other top-ranked Mexican restaurant in Illinois:
El Habanero, 3300 W Fullerton Avenue, Chicago 4.5 stars, 132 reviews.
A taco sampler at Bakersfield OTR. (Photo: Bakersfield OTR)
Ohio: Bakersfield OTR, 1213 Vine Street, Cincinnati; 4.5 stars, 491 reviews.
This place is almost always busy. But solid tacos, good prices, big tortas, and the music of Johnny Cash reward those who wait. Yelpers say Bakersfield is a great hang with a western twang that still managed to gives off a cool New York/L.A. vibe. Inexpensive, authentic food seals the deal. “Great tacos, good booze, always packed for good reason,” writes local Austin M. Most Yelpers like the short rib, mole and mahi fish tacos. They all love the margaritas.
Beef and pork tacos done right at Taco Bar. (Photo: Taco Bar)
Maryland: Taco Bar, 10003 Fields Road, Gaithersburg; 4.5 stars, 543 reviews.
Nothing fancy here, just plenty of cheap beer and tacos. But, then again, who needs anything fancy with that combo? Certainly not D W. of Rockville. “Go here every chance I get,” he writes. Besides authentic tacos, the place also serves up burritos, tostadas, tortas and plenty of combination plates. Taco Bar is attached to a beer and wine store AND a gas station; load up on all the essentials with just one trip. “Best tacos ever. I love you can get gas and a car wash at the same time,” writes Paul H. of Falls Church. We don’t blame him.