Dallas’ Best Mexican Restaurants for Cinco de Mayo and Beyond
From laid-back cantinas and local Tex-Mex titans to cheffy takes on south of the border staples.
Mexican restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth may share certain characteristics, such as chips and salsa as a starter to rice and beans as a side dish standard. But the differences are what make so many wonderfully unique, whether they’re serving Tex-Mex, Mex-Mex, Dal-Mex, West-Tex-Mex, Coastal-Mex, or nearly any other combination you can imagine. People around here are extremely passionate about their favorites—us included—so we know right off the bat that this topic can get as heated as a steaming fajita skillet.
To be honest, we could’ve easily spiced up your life with no fewer than 100 great local restaurants, but these 15 represent a pretty stellar foundation. For the sake of framing, you won’t find any taquerias, food trucks, or street carts. Instead, we’re laser-focused on full-service outposts with truly superlative dishes, excellent agave cocktails, a welcoming vibe, and salsas that will make you weep (both with joy and perhaps a tad of taste bud-assaulting fire). Here are the best Mexican restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth.
From the moment it debuted last month, The Mexican has secured its place as the most beautiful Mexican restaurant in Dallas. The spectacular interiors and designer details in every subtly themed room are right at home within the borders of Dallas’ luxury-minded Design District showrooms. Expect exceptional service to match the high-end menu items that make this a special-occasion destination for anyone who thinks $24 to $30 for a plate of enchiladas without sides is extravagant. But the food lives up to the hype thanks to thoughtful presentations, all utilizing the highest quality ingredients. Standout plates include Lobster Elotes, Pan-seared Jumbo Scallops and Shrimp, and the Filet and Bone Marrow Tacos that utilize the bone itself as a vessel for onions, cilantro, and fresh lime to liven up the meaty filling. An elaborate and extensive tequila library ensures The Mexican’s longevity as a drinking destination, too—the patio’s gorgeous, to boot—so try a signature margarita (also called The Mexican) for $15 or splurge on the Pancho Villa Margarita for a cool $250.
Joe Leo Fine Tex Mex
Tex-Mex aficionados understand that sometimes only a crispy beef taco will satisfy a craving. And though they serve excellent queso and guacamole, nachos with ceviche-style shrimp, and family-style fajitas, Joe Leo’s Golden Tacos bring us back again and again. “Golden” due to the large mound of freshly grated cheddar, they can be ordered soft or crispy with a variety of fillings, but the Crispy Beef Picadillo sets the gold standard (pun intended). Check out Joe Leo for brunch and the upstairs Cactus Club tequila tasting lounge for late-night kicks.
Primo’s MX Kitchen
Once one of Uptown’s most popular destinations for Mexican fare and a party-ready atmosphere, Primo’s disappeared for a few years before re-emerging as Primo’s MX Kitchen and Lounge. Show up for $2 Taco Tuesdays, Half Price Fajita Wednesdays, or a filling brunch (including the Prima Donna Drag Brunch at the Uptown location every other Sunday). Of course, celebrating good times with friends will always be in Primo's DNA, so even if you simply want to gather over Carne Asada Fries and tangy Margaritas, you’re pretty much guaranteed a fantastic time.
Pepe & Mito's Mexican Cafe
A visit to this longtime Deep Ellum lunch hangout (they’re open for dinner, too, but lunchtime is the real draw) wouldn’t be complete without an order of homemade flour tortillas. There’s enough lard in them that they’re practically translucent, but that’s okay—chances are you’re not looking for health food when eating Tex-Mex (or Mex-Tex as they call it here). Those addictive flour tortillas go great with an order of spinach or beef queso with a little red salsa thrown on top for good measure. Enchiladas are a real star here, especially the ones topped with rich mole poblano sauce. But for our money, it will always be an order of Chicken Enchiladas topped with their lick-the-plate-worthy chipotle wine sauce.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Gabriela & Sofia's
Numerous Mexican restaurants offer tableside guacamole, but for some reason, we like the smashed-in-front-of-our-eyes avocado creation here a little more than the rest. The ingredients are the same, so it’s beyond explanation, but we attribute at least part of our loyalty to the cart-pusher’s undeniable friendliness. Elsewhere on the menu, the Shrimp Enchiladas shine as do the all-day-everyday breakfast offerings (we suggest the Brisket and Eggs) to conjure that brunchtime vibe seven days a week.
Stop by the bar for a fine mezcal and a little menu perusal before settling into your table at this sophisticated Oak Lawn outpost boasting one of the city’s greatest indoor-outdoor dining rooms (think: twinkling fairy lights, a canopy of grand trees, the works). Their menu was created by chef José Meza, who has experience cooking at some of the world’s swankiest hotels and restaurants. Signature items include the hearty Cochinita Pibil and an awesome plate of Seafood Enchiladas featuring a mix of seafood and pico de gallo wrapped in freshly made corn tortillas and smothered in roasted corn jalapeño sauce and queso fresco. It’s the next best thing to an actual trip to Puerto Vallarta.
Aged in both American and French oak barrels and finished in port wine casks, 1800 Cristalino Tequila is an ultra-premium, crystal-clear añejo meant to celebrate life’s special moments with taste. So, this Cinco de Mayo, elevate your experience and raise a glass with 1800 Cristalino instead—your taste buds will thank you.
Executive chef Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman taps into the rich tapestry of Jalisco food culture here, pouring her heart and soul into every dish that hits the table. Exceptional examples include Salmon al Pastor, Short Rib Enchiladas, and Duck Confit Mole with sautéed bok choy, lentils, pickled peppers, scallions, and aged mole.
Mariano's Hacienda Ranch Dallas
People the world over have the eponymous Mariano Martinez to thank for the smoothest, frostiest frozen Margaritas ever made, because he’s the genius who invented the frozen margarita machine 50 years ago last May. You can still sometimes catch him at the restaurant—in addition to one of the first-ever machines (the original lives at The Smithsonian)—but you can always order up one of the icy concoctions that put him and his Dallas outpost on the Margarita map. Luckily, the food here is just as tasty as the cocktails.
Impeccable service makes every meal at Mesero a delight, so unless you’re ordering takeout or delivery, take the time to bask in their signature hospitality (and tip accordingly, of course). Regardless of how you get your food, however, the folks at Mesero know how to combine ingredients in the most pleasing way possible, whether it’s some of the best queso in the city (try the version with spinach, artichokes, and poblano peppers for a vegetarian change of pace) or entrée-sized combination plates like Chicken Enchiladas covered in a tart and spicy tomatillo sauce and partnered with a brisket taco, cabbage slaw, white rice, and your choice of three different types of beans.
How to book: Reservations, takeout, and delivery options vary by location.
Meso Maya Comida y Copas
Incorporating ancient Mayan cooking techniques and ingredients into their culinary philosophy, the chefs at Meso Maya draw on traditions associated with the Yucatan, Vera Cruz, and Chiapas to create delectable dishes with a tangible sense of time and place. Rich adobos and salsas showcase layers of flavor from ancient herbs and spices, tortillas are formed on-site with hand-ground masa, and everything else is made from scratch, too. The Oaxacan mole rojo on the Pollo con Mole might be the best reminder of their reverence for historical cooking methods, but you can’t go wrong with any of their Budin Azteca Plates, which combine tortillas, salsas, cheese, and your choice of protein to create something akin to a Mexican lasagna. And no matter what, an Avocado and Pineapple Margarita is a must to wash away all your worries.
With one of the most definitive tequila libraries in the region, you’ll definitely need to order up a bunch of food to counterbalance all the blancos, añejos, and reposados you’ll inevitably imbibe neat, on the rocks, or in a frosty Margarita. Fortunately, you won’t lack options when it comes to filling your belly during brunch, lunch, or dinner. Sure, you’ll find expertly crafted examples of tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas, but do not overlook the Masa Fried Rockfish or the Bone-in Pork Chop, which is chile-brined, slow-roasted, slathered in orange-agave butter, and served with roasted cauliflower and carrots.
Mi Dia From Scratch
Chef Gabriel DeLeon was raised in the restaurant biz, working in family-run joints until he decided it was time to break out and put his own stamp on the local Mexican food scene. Channeling influences from his extensive travels, DeLeon continues to whip up innovative dishes that, as you’ve probably guessed from the restaurant’s name, are always made from scratch. Start with customizable guacamole then move on to less familiar offerings like the Quesadilla de Huitlacoche where a sprinkling of “Mexican truffle,” a dark fungus that grows on corn, contributes a wonderful earthiness to gooey queso asadero and roasted veggies between grilled organic blue corn tortillas. Artfully plated additions of avocado purée and New Mexico-style red and green chile sauces seal the deal.
Miriam Cocina Latina
If you’re lucky, you’ll spot this restaurant’s namesake chef running the ship on your next visit—her smile is utterly infectious, so make sure to say hello. One of the nicest chef-owners in Dallas, Miriam Jimenez may hail from the Dominican Republic but she sure knows her way around a plate of Mexican food. Patio seating is a must here, with immediate views of Klyde Warren Park and Downtown Dallas’ cityscape just beyond. Spend a leisurely hour or two sipping Palomas or Spicy Pepinos (a way-too-easy-to-drink concoction of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, fresh cucumber, and citrus). To accompany your beverages, try some Lobster Enchiladas or Tacos del Pacifico made with spicy shrimp, poblano peppers, spicy aioli, roasted onion, and pineapple.
In a city where even trendsetting restaurants disappear without a trace, this local Tex-Mex chain has truly defied the odds with its 100+ year history. And when you’re in the mood for a good ol’ plate of enchiladas topped with chile con carne and a side of rice and beans, El Fenix will always be a classic. Better yet, go on Wednesday for their famously cheap $6.49 Enchilada Platter that lets you mix and match chicken, cheese, or beef plus your choice of sauce.
If you were blindfolded and presented a plate of food from this Oak Lawn favorite, your first guess upon inspection would be that you were at one of Dallas’ top fine dining establishments. And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong—the chef-driven dishes here tantalize the senses while thwarting any preconceived notions you have about what Mexican food should be. Among the stellar offerings is Grilled Octopus swimming in zarandeado sauce, black bean puree, kohlrabi slaw, and toreado onion, as well as the Lamb Chops served on a bed of mint rice, mole manchamanteles, and arugula. And don’t sleep on their signature Frozen Coco Loco Margarita, which drinks like a lighter, fresher piña colada with a tequila-fueled kick.