32 Tacos Every Houstonian Needs to Try

Dig into lobster, barbacoa, braised lamb and smoked chicken
April 30, 2017
by Ellie Sharp

Alliteration may have given Tuesday bragging rights as the dedicated day for tacos, but around here every day is an excuse to indulge in this quintessential finger food. We offer up a round of Houston's must-try offerings including a few fusion finds for those seeking a twist on tradition. Don't see your favorite? Let us know via tweet @ZagatHouston.

Smoked pork taco at Taqueria Barba
Fans of Catalina Coffee already know about this hidden gem tucked one block off Washington Ave. where breakfast and lunch tacos feature a range of flavorful fillings. Don’t miss the smoked pork served street taco–style with onions and cilantro or round up the carne asada and chicken variations for a filling meal. Each pairs well with the ultrafresh housemade red and green salsas. Pro tip: Avoid the line by texting your order, which requires only a five to 10-minute lead time. 

2119 Washington Ave.; 832-910-8226

Pato crujiente at Xochi
Tortillas are prepared daily to wraparound crispy duck, salsa de albañil — a creamy-tangy combo of tomatillos, avocado and queso fresco — and crunchy chicharrones.

1777 Walker St.; 713-400-3330

Naan pork belly breakfast taco at Peli Deli
It’s a bit of a hunt to locate this new treasure in the basement of the historic Esperson Buildings Downtown, but the reward is fluffy scrambled eggs topped with tender pork belly, raspberry chipotle sauce, blue cheese, bacon, crispy onions, Peppadews and cilantro. Be warned that the restaurant only has a nine-month lease, so don’t dilly-dally.

808 Travis St.; 281-257-9500

Taco at The Pit Room 
Rendered lard from smoked brisket gets repurposed in flour tortillas (and chips) at this Montrose joint dishing out three kinds of tacos along with Central Texas–style barbecue. Get one type or order all three in a meal that comes with two sides. Selections include brisket with cheddar cheese, sour cream and salsa roja; pulled pork with picked red onions, salsa verde, cilantro and cotija; and smoked chicken verde with griddled cheese and whole cloves of charred garlic (pictured).

1201 Richmond Ave.; 281-888-1929

Lamb barbacoa taco at Hugo's
Stuff your own warm tortillas with slow-roasted marinated lamb flavored with chiles, onion, garlic and avocado leaves, plus chopped onion and cilantro.

1600 Westheimer Rd.; 713-524-7744

Chicken taco at Molina’s Cantina
Though tacos here are available in trios of beef and carnitas too, those in the know snag this long-standing staple: The birds are slow-cooked in a traditional chile and spice recipe, then pulled into succulent shreds and topped with lettuce and tomatoes. It's all within a soft corn or flour tortilla.

4720 Washington Ave. Suite E; 713-862-0013

Taco de cochinita pibil at Arnaldo Richards’ Picos
Spice-marinated pork is slow-roasted until tender, shredded and cradled into a fresh flour tortilla, and then topped with pickled red onions. Dollops of house green and red salsas add a fresh and flavorful kick.

3601 Kirby Dr.; 832-831-9940

Taco at Laredo Taqueria
Lines out the door are common at this multilocation Houston institution serving up no-frills Mexican staples from morning until night. Some folks start lining up at 5 AM for first dibs on tacos stuffed with signature barbacoa. Look for additional fillings like chorizo, chicken, spicy potatoes, eggs and beans tucked into soft housemade flour tortillas. 

915 Snover St.; 713-861-7279

Pork carnitas taco at Cuchara
The pork shoulder in these tacos is prepared Michoacán-style and simmered in lard and orange juice in a copper pot until tender. The shredded meat is then served in a double layer of corn tortillas alongside chopped onion and cilantro.

214 Fairview St.; 713-942-0000

Pollo guisado taco at Tacos A Go Go
Garlic, tomatoes and serrano peppers lend a spicy-savory note to shredded chicken layered into housemade puffy taco shells and topped with cilantro, chopped onions and queso fresco.

3401 W. T C Jester Blvd.; 713-681-8226

Street taco at El Patio
Feast on five miniature corn tortillas overflowing with combo fajitas (chicken and beef) plus onions, chopped cilantro and sides of Mexican rice, charro beans, pico de gallo and guacamole.

6444 Westheimer Rd.; 713-780-0410

Papadulce taco at Tacodeli
​This vegetarian option includes cubes of roasted sweet potatoes smothered in grilled corn, roasted peppers and caramelized onions then topped with toasted pepitas and a drizzle of creamy-spicy chipotle camote sauce.

1902 Washington Ave. D; 713-357-7770

Taco at Tacos Tierra Caliente
Grab authentic Mexican tacos, including the pastor (pork), barbacoa and chicharron (crispy chicken skin), plus less traditional variations at this taco truck that shares a corner with another Houston icon, the West Alabama Ice House.

2003 W. Alabama St. 

Breakfast taco at Rico’s Morning Noon Night
Head to this cozy corner spot in Midtown for breakfast tacos stuffed with combinations of savory bacon and chorizo, fluffy eggs or fresh veggies. Order them in singles or pick up a box on the way to the office for happy colleagues.

401 Gray St.; 713-750-0050

Spicy chicken tikka at Velvet Taco
Branch out with this Indian-inspired twist featuring crispy chicken generously coated in a spicy pepper sauce and served over buttered basmati rice garnished with raita cream. Thai basil lends a fresh hit.

4819 Washington Ave.; 832-834-5908

Braised lamb taco at MKT Bar
Tannour flatbread replaces traditional flour and corn tortillas in this texturally diverse taco stuffed with mole-braised lamb balanced by slices of fresh fennel, sweet cucumber-orange salsa and herbed yogurt-mint sauce.

1001 Austin St.; 832-360-2222

Carnitas de atun at Caracol
Simplicity defines these tacos inspired by coastal Mexican fare and filled with seared tuna, guacamole and refritos.

2200 Post Oak Blvd. #160; 713-622-9996

Chicken-fried oyster taco at Fusion Taco
Fresh Gulf oysters are dipped in classic Southern batter, fried until hot and crispy, then piled into a charred housemade corn tortilla with celery root slaw, house buttermilk ranch and Frank’s Red Hot sauce.

801 Congress Ave. #101; 713-422-2882
4706 N. Main St.; 713-422-2992

Chipotle chicken Brothers Taco House
This popular hut in EaDo is known for its shredded chicken cooked in a combination of seeded chipotle peppers, sour cream and milk that is stuffed into tortillas with optional rice and refried beans.

1604 Dowling St.; 713-223-0091

Taco al carbon at The Original Ninfa's on Navigation
Go for this iconic local favorite that combines fresh flour tortillas with smoky beef fajitas made famous by Mama Ninfa herself, plus sides of pico de gallo, guacamole and hot chili con queso.

2704 Navigation Blvd.; 713-228-1175

Laredo taco at Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen
Basic isn’t always boring as in these soft tacos from the local queen of enchiladas. Choose from seasoned fillings like taco meat, chicken or carnitas served with lettuce, tomato and cheese.

6401 Woodway Dr.; 713-334-7295

Ropa vieja taco at El Rey Taqueria
Choose from an extensive list of Mexican and Cuban-style tacos including this version featuring tomato broth and cabbage-infused shredded beef topped with pico de gallo and a creamy cilantro sauce.

910 Shepherd Dr.; 713-802-9145

Puffy crispy lobster taco at Star Fish
The latest venture from Lee Ellis and crew features seafood delights such as this puffy number filled with tender lobster, pepper Jack cheese, avocado salsa, micro cilantro, shredded lettuce and tomatoes. 

191 Heights Blvd.; 832-831-9820

Taquitos at Tila’s
Create your own savory tacos in three options — chicken, beef and fish, each of which features its own marinade: lime and garlic for the chicken, rosemary lime for the beef and garlic balsamic for the fish. The plate comes with all the fixings, including pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, cheese and a creamy tomatillo-avocado sauce.

1111 S. Shepherd Dr.; 713-522-7654

H-Town HOT chicken taco at Lee’s Fried Chicken & Donuts
Nosh on this spicy, saucy fried chicken tender topped with cool creamy slaw and sweet honey mayo in a flour tortilla. Follow it up with a donut — because you can.

601 Heights Blvd.; 713-880-3550

Braised wild boar at Rainbow Lodge
Tacos aren’t top of mind when dining at this game-focused eatery, but this version stuffed with wild boar, shaved radish slaw and guajillo pepper sauce is like a sportier version of its traditional porky cousin.

2011 Ella Blvd.; 713-861-8666

Iwontontaco at Pinch Seafood & Bar
Instead of a tortilla, grilled or fried shrimp, oysters and fish come tucked into fried wontons and topped with a sweet garlic mayo slaw. Available as three per order and only on Tuesdays. 

10510 Northwest Fwy.; 832-487-9412

Trailer park taco at Torchy’s Tacos
Crispy fried chicken and a creamy poblano sauce lend fusion hints to this decadent taco that also features green chiles, lettuce, pico de gallo and cheese. Order it “trashy,” and rich queso replaces lettuce because calories, what calories?​

2411 S. Shepherd Dr.; 713-595-8226

Puffy taco at El Real Tex-Mex Cafe
Inspiration for these savory snacks hails from San Antonio, home of the puffy taco. Choose from shrimp tacos, ground beef, pulled pork, smoked chicken or vegan guacamole and black bean — each one comes under a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped tomato and onion.

1201 Westheimer Rd.; 713-524-1201

Taquitas de malanga at Churrascos
Taquitas, or small tacos, come in many variations such as this crispy version that swaps flour and corn tortillas for those made from taro root. Inside find a sweet and savory shredded pork–pineapple filling dressed with a rich crema fresco. 

9705 Westheimer Rd.; 713-952-1988

44 Farms chimichurri steak taco at Dish Society
All-natural Black Angus steak from Texas ranch 44 Farms finds a home in this taco newcomer in which meat shares space with crunchy cabbage slaw, zippy house chimichurri sauce and crumbles of cotija cheese. 

5740 San Felipe St. #100; 832-538-1060
LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch, 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd. d100, Katy; 281-394-7555

Camaron taco at Cabo Baja Tacos & Burritos
Open a little more than a month, this newcomer offers a slew of interesting selections, like a flavorful blend of tender marinated grilled shrimp, grilled mozzarella, shredded cabbage, tomato and avocado spiked with a creamy chipotle sauce all in a corn tortilla cooked practically to order.​

4520 Washington Ave.; 281-974-5371

mexican cuisine
wild boar
smoked chicken
beef fajita
sweet potato