Boston’s Best Mexican Restaurants for Cinco de Mayo and Beyond
From unassuming taco stands to upscale cheffy delights.
When it comes to quality Mexican food, California we are not—but then again, we’re not exactly some Chipotle-dominated suburb. Skeptics, take note: From little-advertised holes in the wall to glam white tablecloth joints, Boston’s Mexican restaurants deserve mad respect. And with both patio and margarita season now firmly upon us, not to mention Cinco de Mayo looming near, we can think of no better time to support local south of the border cuisine. Here are your best bets for excellent Mexican food in Boston.
For many in town, there’s just one source for truly authentic Mexican food: this tiny brick front restaurant in Eastie (a second location has since opened nearby, in the Orient Heights section of East Boston). Many come for the chicken mole alone, but the allures are plentiful. Take the bracing, award-winning guacamole, for example, or the 10 different tacos, tinga burrito, and entrees like carne asada and enchiladas de mole (seriously, order anything with any variety of mole sauce—it’s just that good).
How to order/reserve: Call 617-567-4972 or 617 874-8251 for take-out.
For more than 25 years, Anna’s has been satiating our late-night burrito cravings, no small feat in a town not exactly revered for its Mexican cuisine. Founded in 1995 by Michael “Mike” Yoshiomi Kami with the intent of bringing San Francisco’s burrito scene to Boston, Anna’s was a revelation when it first appeared on Beacon Street in Brookline. The burritos are so beloved that a woman once took a bus from New York to Boston to order one, a story that made the New York Times. Tragically, the pandemic recently shuttered the original outpost, but there are still seven locations at the ready to stuff our maws with beans, guac, and the fillings of our choice, whether in burrito, taco, quesadilla or bowl form.
How to order/reserve: Order take-out or delivery online
Yellow Door Taqueria
Want to cheer up someone suffering from pandemic fatigue? Send ‘em a taco. Yellow Door lets you text a $5 gift certificate to your nearest and dearest, good for a taco at either of the restaurant’s two locations. But that’s hardly its only appeal. 10 different taco options top the menu (hello, scallop frito), as does birria taco perfection, housemade chips, and killer margaritas plus other delicious boozy creations like Waking Up in Tijuana (roasted pecan- and butter-washed Reposado Espolon, St. George coffee liqueur, banana, cold brew, cinnamon, salt, mole bitters). If outdoor dining is your jam, head to the South End location for a better shot at snagging an al fresco table.
How to order/reserve: Order take-out from both locations online
Poor Cosmica. Having opened in February 2020, the restaurant barely had a chance to put a stake in the ground before COVID-19 reared its crappy head. So there’s no better time than the present to acquaint yourself their menu of dressed-up classics like fried clam tacos, calamari fritos, and grown-up slushies spiked with generous amounts of rum. And keep an eye on that brunch menu, poised to make its grand reentrance on May 8.
How to order/reserve: Order pickup and delivery online
As if we didn’t already love Union Square’s dining scene enough, along comes this tiny, hip spot that cheerfully challenges the palate. Fried grasshoppers? Cactus salad? Yes and yes, plus divine taco fillings like crispy fried shrimp and thinly-sliced cured beef. Sip your way through an expansive mezcal menu or bypass the straight stuff and go straight for a prickly pear margarita. To boot, a small back patio invites adventurous diners to indulge under the sun.
How to order/reserve: Order take-out and delivery online
Citrus & Salt
First he brought us the frozen watermelon rosé margarita. Then, in the early days of lockdown, he brought us margarita mixes to-go. Now that his restaurants are back up and running, acclaimed chef Jason Santos has returned with the full coastal Mexican cuisine experience, from butter-poached lobster tacos to small plates of grilled street corn, blue crab taquitos, and shrimp and blue corn grits. Margaritas and tequila cocktails are still front and center, and all of it is still available for pick-up and delivery.
How to order/reserve: Call 833-324-8787 or order online for pick-up and order delivery through DoorDash
Chef-owner Allan Rodriguez opened El Centro in Boston’s South End to give the city a Sonora-style restaurant with fresh ideas and creative menu options. Current highlights include a classic charcoal-grilled arrachera a la tampiquena steak with green sauce and Campechanos tacos that expertly combine carne asada and al pastor. While the pandemic has been cruel to this mini-chain, shuttering both the Brookline and Belmont outposts, the Dedham destination is going strong and you can still hit up the South End patio for safe al fresco dining.
How to order/reserve: Order online for pick-up from both locations or get South End delivery from Uber Eats.
El Pelon Taqueria
Some may balk at tossing around the term “authentic,” but El Pelón holds no such misgivings—it’s right there in the signage. The original location suffered last year due to its proximity to Fenway Park, but this season El Pelón Taqueria remains the perfect pit stop before or after any ballgame if you manage to snag those oh-so-coveted tickets. Choice favorites include fried plantains with fire-roasted salsa, braised pork tortas with spicy mayo and lime onions, and grilled steak Caramelos tacos topped with salsa fresca and melted Monterey Jack. Each location also has a small but mighty patio—but good luck snagging a seat.
How to order/reserve: Order online for pick-up from both locations.
La Victoria Taqueria
Those in the know have long sought out this Arlington Center teeny gem to wolf down the most indulgent of drippy, fatty tacos. (Thankfully, it’s since expanded to two other locations). The menu is as straightforward as they come: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and tortas, with fillings as boundary-pushing as beef tongue and as vanilla as marinated chicken. Another other selling point? Two tacos cost you a grand total of $6.50.
How to order/reserve: Order online for pick-up from all three locations.
Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar
Once upon a time, you crammed into this South Boston headliner for their renowned coconut margaritas—and thanks to the expansive patio setup, those days are finally upon us again. Pair those refreshers with an extended taco feast featuring a slew of experimental fillings like burnt ends, blackened swordfish, Buffalo chicken, eggplant al pastor, and more. Add in an order of sheet pan nachos and fiery guacamole before working your way through the ample raw bar.
How to order/reserve: Order online for pick-up or grab delivery from DoorDash and Caviar.
Lone Star Taco Bar
As punk as a casual taqueria gets, Lone Star earns as much cred for its Mexican street food as it does its mezcal- and tequila-based cocktails. The original taco bar, from the owners of the dearly-departed Deep Ellum, offers up smoked chilies, chorizos, and masa corn tortillas, all made in-house and available to-go.
How to order/reserve: Order online for both Allston and Cambridge take-out.
Olé to Go
Olé to Go (born Olecito) is Inman Square’s hidden diamond, a former hole-in-the-wall joint now housed inside its sister restaurant Olé. Locals still say it's where you get the most authentic bang for your buck, including chips, tacos, tortas, and burritos, each swiftly and impeccably prepared.
How to order/reserve: Order online for pick-up and grab delivery via DoorDash.
Expect to be gobsmacked by the legitimacy of the food here. The tacos—including beef cheek and tongue varieties—come simply dressed with chopped cilantro and onion and perhaps a squirt of lime. Other staples include fried quesadillas and tamales. Sealing the deal are complimentary chips and three different kinds of homemade salsas.
How to order/reserve: Call 617-567-6367 for pick-up.
If you're here, you’re here for the tortas, period. For those unfamiliar, it’s a traditional pressed sandwich made with Telera bread and filled with meat, Oaxaca cheese, mayo, onions, avocado, and tomatoes. Rest assured the requisite tacos, quesadillas, and burritos are all available, too, along with Mexican sodas to wash it all down. Little wonder lines stretched out the door when the Davis Square outpost first opened at the end of 2015. And while the restaurants are all still take-out only, we consider it a small price to pay to keep our beloved tortas safe.
How to order/reserve: Order online for pick-up from all four locations.
The Painted Burro
In days of yore, the Painted Burro offered crowds an energetic vibe (no doubt due to its proximity to Tufts) combined with an upscale, modern feel. We’ll get back there. But you can still enjoy thoughtful showstoppers like short rib tacos and pork carnitas enchiladas from both locations. And why not add steak fajitas to your order as you lounge about the outdoor patio? Those homemade margaritas need something to soak them up. And you have to love their newly introduced Bottomless Brunch, an all-you-can-eat fest every weekend for $21 per person that spans soulful dishes like huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, nachos, and tacos.
How to order/reserve: Order online for pick-up and get delivery via DoorDash and Caviar.
Tu Y Yo
Inside Powder House Square, Tu Y Yo is a family-run restaurant peddling its own spin on traditional Veracruz recipes. Be prepared for old-school ingredients like cactus and chapulines (grasshoppers) among more familiar fare. Tu y Yo also offers lunch from 11:30 to 3 pm Tuesday through Friday, just in case you’ve grown tired of your daily trip to the kitchen for yet another turkey sandwich.
How to order/reserve: Call 617.623.5411 for pick-up and delivery.
Villa Mexico Cafe
Have you spent the last year stuck inside with a haughty Cali-based roommate who regularly denigrates Boston’s Mexican food scene? Momma King has your cure. Owner Nee Julie King earned underground local buzz when she began turning out tamales, flautas, and grilled burritos from a tiny kitchen inside a Beacon Hill gas station. Today, she has her own downtown storefront and is still going strong, offering take-out and limited deliveries throughout Boston. And if you count yourself among the Villa Mexico loyalists, considering sponsoring one of the staff until the restaurant can fully reopen.
How to order/reserve: Call 617.957.0725 for pickup and order delivery through Uber Eats and DoorDash.