The Best Atlanta Mexican Restaurants You Can Enjoy From Home
It’s margarita season.
Are we the only ones who crave tacos come springtime? Yes, your annual excuse to rush your favorite local Mexican restaurant for sizzling fajitas and rounds of margaritas has been slightly derailed due to the coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean you should abstain from indulging altogether. Atlanta has incredible Mexican restaurants -- many of which have transitioned to delivery and takeout models during the pandemic -- so do yourself a favor and enjoy some of the best Mexican food and specials the city has to offer.
A large number of independently owned Mexican restaurants inside and outside the perimeter make some of Atlanta’s best Mexican food, but don’t sleep on the chains. Chains like bartaco offer some of the most clutch specials, especially when the time comes to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. For bartaco, that holds true even while social distancing continues, and each Atlanta location is offering Cinco kits. The package feeds four people and comes with two taco fillings, three sides, salsa verde, chips, and an optional fresh margarita mix.
How to order: Order curbside pickup or delivery online
Folks don’t lie about their favorite burritos, and those in the know will tell you that Bell Street is either at the top (or very close) to it in Atlanta. They’re San Francisco "mission-style" -- meaning big as hell -- and everything inside is cooked for maximum enjoyment, especially the chicken and broccoli, or the pork and green chile. It’s also great that the owner, Matt Hinton, is a former adjunct theology professor at Morehouse, who started doling out delivery burritos after his teaching hours got cut due to budget restraints. He opened his first location in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, and now has two others, and has expanded the menu to include quesadillas, tacos, and more. But seriously, start with the burrito.
How to order: Curbside pickup via Chow Now; delivery through Chow Now, DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, and Uber Eats
The tacos are excellent. The burritos are even better. And the margaritas are serious. The patio feels city-like, but also tucked away, deep into the industrial underbelly of Marietta Boulevard. The inside is completely decked out with Día de Muertos skulls and art, which you might notice are similar to what you see at The Vortex (pssst… it’s the same owners). It’s got a punk-futurist vibe, and while the servers might act weird at times, you can’t knock the flavor. Just don’t eat the spicy chicken taco unless you really want to burn yourself to the skeleton.
How to order: Call 404.418.9072 for curbside pickup
You hear the term "prison tacos" and immediately think somebody’s being an insensitive jerk. But then you remember that El P has bars on its windows, and sits across the street from the federal penitentiary. Carniceria is a restaurant in the back of a grocery store with tacos under $2 (don’t leave without trying the barbacoa or al pastor), and makes its own carne asada and spicy chorizo tortas, along with a ridiculously great shrimp burrito. It’s also a completely safe way to earn seriously delicious street cred.
How to order: Call 404.624.4774 for pickup; delivery through Postmates
We have to start at Buford Highway, otherwise nothing else would be legit. And on BuHi, there are many fine traditional Mexican taquerias, but there can only be one king. The video on the website is more than enough proof that they’ve been doing things the right way -- especially those cabeza, barbacoa, or chorizo tacos -- since opening more than 15 years ago, but you should still test them by ordering one of the amazing soups (the spicy lobster is worth every penny of "market price"), or the parrilladas -- specifically the house special for two, which includes beef ribs, chicken, bacon-wrapped shrimp, and cheesy chorizo. Respect the crown.
How to order: Delivery through Postmates and Uber Eats
Sometimes it’s not about having the best actual Mexican food -- more so about the entire experience. And you can’t really front on La Parrilla -- Atlanta United’s official Mexican eatery. Yes, it’s a chain, and there’s "fusion" stuff in there that’s totally not Mexican (we see you, barbecue wings) but it’s consistent, they have a great patio, and the basics are banging enough to keep you coming back, whether it’s the skirt steak ranchero burrito, chicken tinga tacos, taquitos or chimichangas. And the biggest reason folks are always packing the house is the way the food matches majestically with some of the city’s best, strongest, and cheapest margaritas and micheladas. Don’t come expecting to be blown away by authenticity -- come here for great deals on mainstream Mexican.
How to order: Curbside pickup online; delivery through Doordash, Grubhub, and Postmates
Just this year, the old Hobnob Neighborhood Tavern on Piedmont Avenue was rebranded into a Mexican restaurant called Lazy Llama Cantina, so it hasn’t had the easiest start. Still, the latest addition to Midtown’s Mexican eateries has kept its footing by adjusting to the times and serving great takeout tacos and family meal packages. For its first Cinco de Mayo, Lazy Llama is running a celebratory special that includes two tacos (your choice of protein), chips and salsa, and a Llamarita margarita -- all for $12.95. Even better, they will have $5 individual margaritas and $19 margarita pitches ready to go.
How to order: Order takeout online; delivery through Doordash, GrubHub, and Uber Eats
Don’t come here looking for burritos -- they’re not on the menu, though weirdly enough they’re mentioned on the website. But do come here for Tex-Mex tamales, the awesome $12 lunch special, or house specials like mesquite-grilled quail, crispy whole fish, or slow-braised chipotle-molasses short rib. And everybody swears by the puffy tacos, though the basic hard-shelled joints are fantastic, too.
How to order: Curbside pickup online
When’s the last time you’ve been to a Mexican buffet? Was it under $10, fresh, and actually good? Probably not. While COVID-19 is unfortunately going to prolong your desire to try Don Chon’s buffet, you can eat cooked-to-order burritos, corn-shelled tacos, legit pozole and menudo soup, and platefuls of some of the best slightly spicy shrimp ceviche in town. Now get your ass to this nondescript Tri-Cities rectangle of a restaurant for a to-go order that’s worth your time and taste buds. Be careful with the three pepper sauces, especially the orange one -- it’s not there to look cute. But if you wash it down with a hibiscus agua fresca, you’ll be fine.
How to order: Call 404.762.6864 for pickup or delivery
If you think you’ve had Atlanta’s best Mexican, but have never visited this OTP-South restaurant, you’re sadly mistaken (and don’t blame Google Maps). It’s right on Mount Zion, and has been around in some form for more than 20 years, starting out serving immigrant workers, stepping up into a food truck, and graduating to brick-and-mortar. Try the Mexican sausage and steak taco (wildly underpriced at $3.50), fresh fried huaraches, salsa verde pork ribs, super-stuffed gorditas, and stupid good chicken mole tamales. There’s also the house specialty: a large, crispy tortilla topped with refried beans, Oaxaca cheese, jalapeños, avocados, and your choice of meat. It looks kinda like a Mexican pizza had a baby with a taco salad -- but it tastes way better.
How to order: Call 770.960.3010 for pickup; delivery through Postmates
Alma Cocina, the sexy Peachtree Street spot that’s one of the best Mexican restaurants in town, has unfortunately halted its takeout services during the pandemic. Luckily, The Original El Taco -- a sister concept in Alma Cocina’s restaurant group -- is still pumping out quality Tex-Mex and Oaxacan dishes and family-style meals. While the restaurant is currently only operating Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5-8pm,all food, wine, and beer is 50% off to-go.
How to order: Call 404.873.4656 for curbside pickup
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