The Top Mexican Restaurants in 15 U.S. Cities

By Zagat Staff  |  April 30, 2013

Mexican Food Week is in full swing, and to keep things rolling we've rounded up our top-rated Mexican eateries in 15 U.S. cities. Which joint near you came in numero uno? Click through the slide show to find out and check out the full results of our Mexican Food Survey right here. Share your thoughts on both via social media using hashtag #MexicanFoodWeek. If this slideshow leaves you hungry, how about something unusual? We taste tested some cricket tacos this week, check that out here (the bugs are better than you think!).

  • Atlanta: Nuevo Laredo Cantina

    Despite an “odd location” in the “drab” fringes of the Westside, there’s “always a line” at this “extremely popular” Mexican joint where the “excellently prepared” fare arrives in “uniformly too-big portions”; “cheap” tabs, “killer” margaritas and fun “people-watching” offset the “crowded” conditions and “run-down”, “trailer-park” looks.

    1495 Chattahoochee Ave. N.W., Atlanta; 404-352-9009

  • Austin: Tacodeli

    “Excellence wrapped in a tortilla” is how devotees describe the “delicious”, “gourmet” Mexican street eats crafted from “fresh, local and organic ingredients” at this counter-service trio; open for breakfast and lunch only, it’s always busy, but “friendly folks” keep the constant lines moving fast, and you can also call ahead to skip the wait; P.S. “the salsa doña is a true revelation.”

    Multiple locations

  • Boston Area: El Sarape

    “Don’t dismiss” this Braintree spot because of its “cheesy”, “cramped” quarters – if you do, you’ll miss out on “outstanding” Mexican meals offered at “affordable” rates; during the week, it’s a place to “chillax” with the aid of “strong margaritas”, while on weekends, the atmosphere is more “fun”, thanks in part to the “loud” live music.

    5 Commercial St., Braintree; 781-843-8005

  • Chicago: Topolobampo

    Celeb chef Rick Bayless “wrote the book on fine Mexican cuisine” (literally and figuratively), and he “keeps rewriting it” by “setting new standards” at his “upscale” River North “institution” where “inventive”, “refined interpretations” result in “sublime”, “mind-melting” moles and other “subtle” yet “complex” dishes served alongside “gold standard margaritas”; “kind”, “informative” servers are “as comforting as family” in the “elegant”, art-enhanced dining room, so “if you win the fight to land a reservation, you will be a very happy camper”; P.S. for a “cheaper” experience try the adjoining Frontera Grill.

    445 N. Clark St., Chicago; 312-661-1434

  • Honolulu: Maui Tacos

    “For real local-fied Mexican, there’s no better place” than this statewide chain, especially if you’re looking for a “quickie lunch” of “cheap eats” or “craving something ‘south-of-the-border’”; “spice up your food according to taste” at the salsa bar offering a “plethora” of condiments, and get it to go since there’s “no decor” to speak of.

    2233 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu; 808-931-6111

  • Las Vegas: Cafe Rio Mexican Grill

    “Phenomenally fresh” Mexican eats that “scream flavor” are the bread-and-butter of these “fast-ish-style” chain links across the valley, where “generous” portions and “pleasant” service are a way of life; “casual” digs and “reasonable” prices further make them a “local favorite.”

    Multiple locations

  • Los Angeles Area: Babita Mexicuisine

    Hidden behind a “plain” San Gabriel facade, this “unexpected” “culinary treasure” leaves adventurous eaters “blown away” by the “creative” “gourmet Mexican” cuisine “lovingly crafted” by chef-owner Roberto Berrelleza, who “relishes educating diners about the unusual menu”; it’s a “high-end” excursion that may spark “sticker shock”, but most maintain it’s “worth the trip.”

    1823 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel; 626-288-7265

  • Miami Area: Chéen Huaye

    Its name means ‘only here’, an apt description of the “seriously authentic” Yucatán-style cuisine “served with appropriate pride by the owners themselves” at this North Miami Mexican in a “nondescript strip mall”; it’s “quiet enough for a first date” and delivers “great bang for the buck” too.

    15400 Biscayne Blvd., Miami-Dade County; 305-956-2808

  • New Orleans: Felipe's Taqueria

    “It’s a true show” watching the “quick” staff prepare “made-to-order” Mexican at this “casual” Uptown and French Quarter duo where “tasty”, “fresh” fare goes down even better with “strong” hand-squeezed Key lime margaritas; the cafeteria format and “basic” digs don’t deter diners, especially since tabs are priced “cheap” enough for a “college budget.”

    Multiple locations

  • New York City: Mercadito/Mercadito Grove

    To “quench taco cravings”, hit these crosstown Mexican “favorites” where the “fair-priced”, “authentic tastes” are best washed down with a “terrific margarita” or two; both the service and the “tight” quarters are “undistinguished”, but in “warm weather” the West Villager’s patio is the “spot to be.”

    Multiple locations

  • Orlando: Agave Azul

    “Forget that this Mexican hideaway is in a strip mall” advise Kirkman Roaders, because the “authentic” fare, including “fresh-made guacamole”, is “delicious” and the “chic, modern” surrounds channel SoBe; service is “tops” and tabs are wallet-friendly, so it’s considered “one of the better” choices around.

    4750 S. Kirkman Rd., Orlando; 407-704-6930

  • Philadelphia: Paloma Mexican Haute Cuisine

    Fans predict “you’ll keep coming back” to this “cozy”, white-tablecloth Bella Vista BYO for chef-owner Adán Saavedra’s “inventive” “haute” French fare “laced” with the “flavors and spices of Mexico” and topped off with his “charming” wife Barbara’s “homemade desserts” (the “spicy sorbets alone are worth the visit” to some); “charming” service, “reasonable” prices and a “quiet” setting with “ample room” “between tables” seal the deal.

    763 S. Eighth St., Philadelphia; 215-925-9500

  • Portland, OR: Autentica

    Chef Oswaldo Bibiano turns out “exceptional” cuisine with “bright, bold flavors” that’s “everything that Mexican food should be” at his midprice Concordia cantina; “deliciously potent” margaritas, “attentive” service and a “cozy”, “stylish” space that includes a lush back garden round out the offerings; P.S. “the mole is a must.”

    5507 N.E. 30th Ave., Portland; 503-287-7555

  • San Francisco: El Castillito

    “Lots of flavor” gets packed into the “to-die-for” burritos and carnitas at this Mexican trio; yes, the digs are a bit “grungy”, but service is “fast”, the bill is “small” and they “aren’t shy with the portions” – plus you can always “get your order to go.”

    Multiple locations

  • Washington, DC: Oyamel

    “No burritos or chimichangas here!” cheer fans of the “delightful, creative” tapas and street food given “a typical José Andrés twist” (e.g. grasshopper tacos “you’ll jump for”) at this high-end Penn Quarter Mexican with a “funky”, “loud” atmosphere; some say that service, while “friendly”, “doesn’t match the quality of the food”, but for most, niceties like “super-strong” margaritas and the “edible entertainment” of guacamole made tableside extend the fiesta feeling.

    401 Seventh St. N.W., Washington, DC; 202-628-1005