The Mexican Janitor Who Invented the Flamin' Hot Cheeto Is Getting His Own Biopic
Taco al pastor
El TejavanAddress and Info
While it’s commonly thought that only pork can be cooked al pastor (that is, the iconic Mexico City taco filling roasted on the vertical rotisserie called a trompo), any food can get the treatment -- be it rabbit, fish, or eggplant. In parts of Mexico, some taquerias will go so far as to alternate discs of beef and pork. In the ranchlands of the Texas Panhandle it should be no surprise then that al pastor comes packed with juicy, marinated beef the color of the high-plains desert sky at dusk, cilantro, and onions. Also in true Texas fashion, lettuce and tomato are served on the side. At least the guacamole isn’t extra.
Bacon, egg, and cheese
Joe’s Bakery & Coffee ShopAddress and Info
At East Side Austin institution Joe’s Bakery, a salty net of cheese isn’t enough to obscure the epiphany that is the centerpiece of this taco: bacon dredged in flour and fried.
Cactus and egg
Taco-MexAddress and Info
Too often nopales (cactus pads) are poorly prepared resulting in a slimy dish that will drive away even the most ardent fan of the food. That’s never the case at Taco-Mex, a literal hole-in-the-wall, where the mess of nopales strips and eggs are spot-on every time.
Chile relleno taco de arroz
Mi TradiciónAddress and Info
Listed on the menu as a taco de arroz (rice taco), this beaut of a blue corn tortilla under a bed of yellow rice topped with a quesadilla cheese-filled, breaded, and fried green chile is called a taco placero in Oaxaca and New York City. It’s a rare find in Texas. And at this North Austin bakery and restaurant, it’s a downright treasure. Give the taco a minute to rest. The cheese will firm up and the package will be easily handled. A treasure, indeed.
The Marlo Cheeseburger Taco
The Vegan NomAddress and Info
The best cheeseburger taco in Texas is found at this North Loop trailer. Funny thing is, the cheeseburger taco (with special sauce, to boot) isn’t an actual cheeseburger taco. It’s a vegan facsimile so great, you’ll threaten to shave the beard off the guy who took your order, “because that just can’t be a vegan cheeseburger taco, man!” It is.
Veracruz All NaturalAddress and Info
When it comes to Austin’s signature taco, Veracruz All-Natural’s migas -- cloud-like scrambled eggs, mixed with fresh tortilla chips, pico de gallo, and cheese topped with an avocado wedge in a fresh tortilla -- has no equal. Don’t sleep on the salsa bar, with options that range from hot to it-will-hurt-later.
The Real Deal Holyfield
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQAddress and Info
The Capital City is home to many notable mobile food vendors. But none is worth standing in line for in the rain like Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, an expert melding of Texas’ two great culinary traditions—barbecue and Tex-Mex. The pinnacle of which is this smoky amalgamation of mesquite-smoked brisket, bacon, and refried beans with a put-an-egg-on-it double-take finish, all on a downy, slightly dusty handmade flour tortilla.
Sausage patty and egg
Tamale House EastAddress and Info
The original Tamale House is gone, but the storied joint’s traditions continue at the family’s new taqueria, Tamale House East, where a chopped breakfast sausage patty served over scrambled eggs in a flour tortilla pocket is perfection, especially when served in the ivy-trimmed outside garden.
Barbacoa de cabeza
Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-QueAddress and Info
When it comes to traditional barbacoa de res de cabeza en pozo (pit-cooked cow head), there is only one master. That master is Armando “Mando” Vera, serving what is likely the only legally in-ground cooked beef barbacoa, which has earned Vera a following that lines up for his specialty -- whether it be cheek, tongue, palate, or even eye -- beginning at 4:30am on weekends. As a taco lover, visiting Vera’s is the ultimate bucket list item. There you’ll order a 1/2lb of the mixta (all the bits, including eyes) with fresh corn tortillas and sit a spell for customized tacos.
El Ultimo Taco TaqueriaAddress and Info
The borderland is cattle country through and through. Sweetbreads. Barbacoa. Tripe. They’re all common taco fillings in the region, but at El Ultimo Taco Taqueria, no-fuss bistek topped with salty, crumbled queso blanco, a giveaway you’re eating in the Rio Grande Valley, trumps them all.
Chacho’s TacosAddress and Info
South Texas is the land of super tacos -- flour tortilla-wrapped mishmash straining to contain a farmer’s stand worth of ingredients -- and Chacho’s in Corpus Christi is a sanctuary dedicated to the taco style, where bacon, egg, cheese, potatoes, refried beans, and carne guisada weighing in at nearly 4lbs will send you into a tortilla tizzy. Good luck. Godspeed. You’ll never have a better nap than after attempting to polish off your order.
Hi-Ho RestaurantAddress and Info
Mexican restaurants in South Texas are the equivalent of classic diners or soda fountains in most other places in America, but the old suicide soda pop trick gets folded on its side for the breakfast taco take. Soft potatoes, crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, chorizo, refried beans, and cheese in a straining house-made flour tortilla make for a fantastic concoction.
Barbacoa de chivo
Barbacoa AgaveAddress and Info
Any doubt that barbacoa is barbecue flits away with the first bite of this make-your-own goat barbacoa taco. Sold by the pound (half-a-pound is OK too), the smoked, soft meat lets off a gamey bite and comes to the table in a chafing dish with sturdy, fresh tortillas, and paper plates on the side.
Cabeza a la Casa
El Come TacoAddress and Info
Scarce is the taqueria that slings tortillas from the sweet spot between hole-in-the-wall and modern joint. El Come Taco in East Dallas is the exception. Its design is one of exposed brick, brilliant Calaveras, and craft beer. Its menu is puro taqueria, with offerings from al pastor from a trompo, and the occasional veggie option to several Mexico City-style beef selections. Chief among them is the cabeza (beef cheek), glistening and easily slurped in a moment of joy. Mitigate that by requesting fluffy cubes of potatoes and grilled cactus strips as garnishes.
Tacos MariachiAddress and Info
It takes guts to open a seafood-centric taco joint in landlocked, beef-loving Dallas, and then tack on $4 to $5 price tags, but when the staff’s pedigree includes some of the area’s finest restaurants, including Knife, Spoon, and Fearing’s, you can be sure of a singular experience. And that’s Tacos Mariachi, where you must go all in with this surf-and-turf campechana (Spanish slang for “mixed taco”), a griddle-toasted flour tortilla made right up the road bearing a tangle of octopus and chopped steak held firm by melted asadero cheese.
TrompoAddress and Info
At Dallas’ new Monterrey-style trompo taco joint, the plainly named Trompo, the campechana is fetching, paprika-bathed pork shaved from a vertical spit that’s joined by bistec and mozzarella (an affordable stand-in for Oaxaca cheese) on a handmade Sonoran-style flour tortilla from nearby La Norteña Tortilleria. There is no better match of pen and corral.
Resident TaqueriaAddress and Info
Resident Taqueria is what other chef-driven taquerias want to be when they grow up. And it’s all there in the cauliflower taco -- florets of the caramelized namesake vegetable, ribbons of crisp nori-colored kale, pale green pepitas, and a drizzle of lemon-epazote aioli -- a diminutive nosh on an airy, delicate flour tortilla made in-house.
Mi Lindo OaxacaAddress and Info
This underdog of a restaurant, the only Oaxacan joint in Dallas, does nearly everything by hand -- even the mole, which begins by staff hand-shelling cacao beans. Also handmade are the slightly crisped blue corn tortillas. They bear grilled cactus pads and one beef rib sliced across the bone with another ribs-worth of chopped beef, making for a salty, one-of-kind taco, worthy of the pilgrimage to West Dallas, cash in hand. Mi Lindo Oaxaca doesn’t accept payment by plastic.
Gonzalez RestaurantAddress and Info
Perfumed with the scent of the oil in which the raw corn masa disc was fried (check out the ridged edges!) but not greasy, this hard-shell paragon comes served with mild, fine-ground beef and the Tex-Mex trio of lettuce, tomato, and cheese, making for Texas’ crunchy taco supreme. Don’t forget to ask for the off-menu house salsa fresca.
TacodeliAddress and Info
Tacodeli was born in Austin way back in 1999, where it became an icon of the city’s breakfast taco scene. But it took expanding to Dallas to make it the best. In Big D tacos come on a base of La Norteña flour tortillas and the best of the best is The Otto, a breakfast taco of smooth refried black beans, an avocado wedge, and a crispy, well-cooked piece of bacon. Remember simplicity doesn’t mean pedestrian.
Taco StopAddress and Info
Forget about taco meat, that overly seasoned ground-beef pretender to the Mexican original: picadillo, which is never better than served on diminutive corn tortillas from Araiza Tortilla Factory, makers of Dallas’ A-1 corn tortillas. The protein is cooked with cubed carrots and onions and served saucy, wrapped in foil with accompanying salsa options.
Velvet TacoAddress and Info
The small Texas-based chain serves as an EPCOT of tacos with international dishes nestled distilled down onto in-house tortillas. The tops is the fried paneer, a cottage cheese from the Indian subcontinent paired with sweet tomato chutney, Thai basil leaves, and a tikka-raita sauce duo that kicks while it cools. The default tortilla here is flour, but sub in the purple, coarse hibiscus tortilla for next-level texture and a touch of bitterness that adds surprising balance.
Taco al pastor a la Tuma
Urban Taco UptownAddress and Info
There is nothing like the Taco al pastor a la Tuma. Inspired by the Mexico City after-hours street taco cousin, the costra, which replaces a corn tortilla with a fried cheese shell, the a la Tuma starts with the griddle-frying manchego cheese, laying a fresh corn tortilla on top of the cheese until -- but not before sneaking a slice or two of jalapeño between the two layers. The filling: partially charred pork shaved from the vertical spit that earns the taco al pastor its name, the trompo, is given a splash of habanero salsa before earning its rest on the tortilla. Finally, the taco is garnished with an avocado wedge and a sliver of pineapple.
Tortilleria La SabrocitaAddress and Info
Tortilla factories and meat markets are among the best places to find a first-rate taco. The chopped pork ribs in a shawl of salsa roja is certainly that.
Colitas de pavo
Flores Meat Market & RestaurantAddress and Info
Everything you could ever want in a Mexican business is at Flores: a butcher, tortilleria, grocer, and restaurant packed into a tunnel of a freestanding building. Just as wondrous as the structure is the colitas de pavo taco, a rare style of tawny-colored fried turkey tails as crunchy as the cilantro, onion, and lime are bright.
Taqueria Pila #1Address and Info
At this snug spot on the southern end of El Paso’s taco row, Alameda Ave, a trio of corn tortillas are filled with pulled beef, subtle and juicy, and then griddle-crisped and shining from the hot-oil blanket, border-style.
TacoholicsAddress and Info
Chico’s Tacos might hog the limelight with its namesake rolled tacos, but it’s important to remember flautas are a specialty of the border city. There are others. At the top of the rolled tacos list are these flautas ahogadas, lightly seasoned beef cocooned in a fried shell of 50-50 flour-corn masa resting in a sharp salsa verde bath dotted with queso fresco.
Avila’s Mexican FoodAddress and Info
Avila’s, which has been serving generations of families with generations of familial employees, is a taste of old El Paso (pun not intended). Your waiter’s father, in pressed white shirt and bow tie, likely took orders, refilled chips and salsa, when the restaurant first opened, and your waiter’s son is likely doing the same at a nearby table. Both gentlemen are presenting plates of fried-to-order taco shells in which piquant ground beef stewed with potatoes and chiles and finished off with warm white cheddar and tomatoes, and crisp lettuce. The kicker here is that the shell is structurally perfect: it won’t disintegrate like some stale supermarket U-boat.
Potato and egg
H&H Car Wash & Coffee ShopAddress and Info
The farthest reaches of West Texas are breakfast-burrito country, but that doesn’t abolish the existence of the occasional breakfast taco spot. In El Paso, there is none better than the potato and egg selection at H&H Car Wash & Cafe. The cooks at the legendary luncheonette serve the flour tortilla tacos with sliced wheels of potato, crisp on the outside with a cottony interior, and masterfully salted scrambled eggs. If you’re lucky, surly-with-a-smile owner Maynard Haddad, whose father opened H&H more than 50 years ago, will bring you the order with a side of sass.
Lucy’s CaféAddress and Info
A taco like no other for a city like no other, the Tacos Antonia, named for the owner’s sister, tucks tender brisket, cabbage, avocado, and Muenster cheese into a fried-to-order shell dusted with seasoning salt the color of El Paso’s dusty environs.
Restaurant Nuevo LeonAddress and Info
Northern Mexico isn’t just cattle country. It’s also spit-roasted milk-fed kid goat (cabrito) country. At Nuevo Leon, named for the Mexican-border state where this goat preparation, cooked over mesquite, is a way of life. Order a platter of your preferred cut -- the adventurous should go for kidneys; the novice should request the shoulder -- and feast on the gamey dish with the accompanying corn tortillas.
Chorizo and egg
Aguilera’s CaféAddress and Info
Arguably the second bucket list-iest of bucket list taco joints is nearly impossible to find, offered as it is inside a restaurant that bears no indication of being a restaurant. That’s because the restaurant is inside a house, but once inside you’ll be welcomed by 90-year-old owner-cook Santos Aguilera or his daughter. They’ll rundown the short menu (three to four items long), but you’ll go for the chorizo and egg taco first thing. Married in the pan, the filling is salty but not oily and quick to cool. Eat it quickly. And run to Aguilera’s Café too. Once the old man passes, his namesake eatery will shutter for good.
Salsa LimónAddress and Info
This is a one-of-a-kind Fort Worth favorite. The crisped flour tortilla bearing your choice of filling (go with the al pastor off the trompo) and Oaxaca-Jack cheese is shot with pickled cabbage, onion, and cilantro. It's the manifestation of the owners’ roots in Oaxaca, Mexico City and the Rio Grande Valley.
Revolver Taco LoungeAddress and Info
If ever there was a frontrunner for best taqueria in Texas, it’s Revolver Taco Lounge. The Rojas Family restaurant gives Fort Worth a modern taqueria rooted in tradition. Classic chorizo and egg gets a makeover with a liberal pop of aged chorizo and a perfectly cooked quail egg. But it’s the pulpo, tender octopus cooked in carnitas lard topped with fried leeks and a balanced jalapeño salsa, that sinks the rest.
Barbacoa and refried beans
Laredo Taqueria #4Address and Info
Whenever you witness an elderly woman folding dough and flattening it for tortillas -- whether for corn or flour tortillas -- order tacos on those tortillas. At this Houston standout, flour is the tortilla of the choice. The thin, nearly transparent discs are to be smeared with refried beans and packed with glistening barbacoa.
Gerardo’s Drive-InAddress and Info
Cooked in a pressure cooker taller than a couple of jockeys out back, Gerardo’s cachete (soft beef cheek) strung with rivulets of fat is a dreamy taco.
Chicharron and egg
Villa ArcosAddress and Info
Fried and stewed chicharrones are a staple of Mexican cuisine on either side of the border. At longtime Bayou City standard bearer Villa Arcos, it comes crunchier than softer with a salty edge and a generous scoop of scrambled eggs in a homemade flour tortilla.
Cabrito al pastor
El Pastor GrillAddress and Info
Select a cut of cabrito that has been split open on a skewer and roasted vertically set above the mesquite-burning grill. Then get ready to make tacos of meat that occasionally reaches over the gamey border but is every bit a shining example of a Rio Grande Valley specialty, including the northern Mexican side.
PicosAddress and Info
Scads of restaurants claim they offer dishes from across Mexico’s culinary landscape, but Pico’s delivers on the promise with chilorio, a simmered pork specialty of the Northern state of Sinaloa, that is rife with notes both sweet and hot from its chile-based marinade.
Taqueria TacambaroAddress and Info
Texas’ largest metropolis isn’t appreciated for the taco city that it is. Its taco truck scene is stunning. At the top is Canino Produce Co. farmers market’s Taqueria Tacambaro, a trailer serving primo chopped mollejas (sweetbreads) sans the funkiness that turns people off to innards.
Ms. G’s Tacos N' MoreAddress and Info
Roll-up in your car or step up to the narrow inside counter for the finest example of carne guisada, a heavy-handed ladling of beef in a silky, pungent gravy stew, this side of the Rio Grande
Rajas con queso
Brothers Taco HouseAddress and Info
This hash of poblano strips with cheese is a classic Mexican breakfast taco, but is a rarity stateside. The version at Brothers is rarer than that, being that it is a punchy stew of chile ribbons popping with blocks of white cheese.
Martinez BakeryAddress and Info
Let’s be honest: West Texas is a taco desert. So thank heaven for an oasis such as Martinez and its rich beef barbacoa, served in clumped strands that tear apart when you need them to.
Taco al pastor
Taqueria GuadalajaraAddress and Info
In the land of crispy taco, one taco stands unbroken above the rest. And it’s found at this old-school drive-in taco joint where corn tortillas are filled with zesty vermillion-hued pork shaved from a spit and chopped to bits before delivery via carhop.
Tommy’s RestaurantAddress and Info
Barbacoa and Big Red soda is a segment of the food pyramid in San Antonio. Tommy’s is so proud of theirs, the restaurant painted a “Big Red and Barbacoa Everyday” mural on an exterior yellow wall of the Wurzbach outpost. Heed the call for the dynamite beef cheek, shredded and shimmering -- but not greasy -- nestled in a padded flour tortilla.
The Bicycle Heaven
Guero’s Taco DinerAddress and Info
Enjoying this jumble of fajita, potatoes, cheese, and avocado is easier than remembering how to ride a bicycle. Only The Bicycle Heaven, soft and comforting, is more like warm laundry than gears and saddles.
Egg with bacon
The Original Donut ShopAddress and Info
The first sign you’re about to experience greatness at The Original Donut Shop is the line of cars that begins in the gas station parking lot down the street and leads to the beloved breakfast spot’s drive-thru. The second and third signs are the line inside and that whatever else customers order, an egg taco with bacon is always requested. It’s nothing complex either: just a magnificent union of handmade flour tortilla, bouncy scramble eggs, and two strips of brick-red bacon. It’s often in simplicity where taco greatness resides.
Machacado con huevo
Taqueria DatapointAddress and Info
The blue ribbon for quixotic taqueria name goes to... Datapoint, where, before the machacado con huevo (dried salt beef pulverized to a fluffy consistency and rehydrated in scrambled eggs) is the breakfast taco before all other breakfast tacos. Soft and comforting, the machacado con huevo tacos eases you into the humid San Antonio day.
Ray’s Drive InnAddress and Info
Ray’s Drive Inn is as close as we have to a Texas taco temple. Its Eucharist is the Lone Star State’s best puffy taco, raw corn masa that is deep fried until it inflates and is formed into a shell. Then it’s filled with lightly seasoned ground beef that’s topped with the Tex-Mex trinity of lettuce, tomato, and cheese. The result is a taco that is light, snappy, and not long for this world. Go easy on the Instagramming. Thirty seconds is probably all you got before the whole parcel turns to mush.
Taco Loco No. 2
Maria’s CafeAddress and Info
Fill up early for a day in Texas’ cultural and culinary capital at the one and only tchotchke-packed Maria’s Cafe. And do it with Taco Loco No. 2, a super taco of sliced weenies, potatoes, refried beans, pico de gallo, and cheese to bind the glorious clash in a handmade flour tortilla.
Sign up here for our daily Dallas email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun DFW has to offer.
1. El Tejavan3420 W Interstate 40, Amarillo
2. Joe's Bakery & Coffee Shop2305 E 7th St, Austin
3. Taco-Mex2613 Manor Rd, Austin
4. Mi Tradición8716 Research Blvd, Austin
5. The Vegan Nom120 N Loop Blvd E, Austin
6. Veracruz All Natural1704 E Cesar Chavez, Austin
7. Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ7612 Brodie Ln, Austin
8. Tamale House East1707 E 6th St, Austin
9. Veras Backyard Bar-B-Que2404 Southmost Rd, Brownsville
10. Taqueria Ultimo Taco938 N Expressway, Brownsville
11. Chachos Tacos3700 Ayers St, Corpus Christi
12. Hi-Ho Restaurant3703 Morgan Ave, Corpus Christi
13. Barbacoa Agave9515 Hawn Frwy, Dallas
14. El Come Taco2513 N Fitzhugh Ave, Dallas
15. Tacos Mariachi602 Singleton Blvd, Dallas
16. Trompo839 Singleton Blvd, Dallas
17. Resident Taqueria9661 Audelia Rd Ste 112, Dallas
18. Mi Lindo Oaxaca2535 Fort Worth Ave, Dallas
19. Gonzalez Restaurant367 W Jefferson Blvd, Dallas
20. Tacodeli4200 N Lamar Blvd, Austin
21. Taco Stop1900 Irving Blvd, Dallas
22. Velvet Taco3012 N Henderson Ave, Dallas
23. Urban Taco Uptown3411 McKinney Ave, Dallas
24. Tortilleria La Sabrocita201 Dallas Dr, Denton
25. Flores Meat Market4945 Titanic Ave, El Paso
26. Taqueria La Pila8714 Alameda Ave, El Paso
27. Tacoholics1613 N Zaragoza Rd Ste 201, El Paso
28. Avila's Mexican Food6232 N Mesa St, El Paso
29. H & H Car Wash Coffee Shop701 E Yandell Dr, El Paso
30. Lucy's Cafe1305 N Mesa St, El Paso
31. Nuevo Leon Restaurant1544 Ellis Ave, Fort Worth
32. Aguilera’s Cafe2005 N Grove St, Dallas
33. Salsa Limón929 University Dr, Fort Worth
34. Revolver Taco Lounge2822 W 7th St, Fort Worth
35. Laredo Taqueria #4311 Patton St, Houston
36. Gerardo's Drive In609 Patton St, Houston
37. Villa Arcos3009 Navigation Blvd, Houston
38. El Pastor1400 E Expy 83, McAllen
39. Arnaldo Richards' Picos3601 Kirby Dr, Houston
40. Taqueria Tacambaro2520 Airline Dr, Houston
41. Ms. G's Tacos N' More2263 Pecan Blvd, McAllen
42. Brothers Taco House1604 Dowling St, Houston
43. Martinez Bakery206 E Florida Ave, Midland
44. Taqueria Guadalajara Crane St1301 S Crane Ave Odessa TX 79763-4755 United States, Odessa
45. Tommy's Restaurant #11205 Nogalitos, San Antonio
46. Guero's Taco Diner20323 Huebner Rd, San Antonio
47. Original Donut Shop3307 Fredericksburg Rd, San Antonio
48. Taqueria Datapoint4063 Medical Dr, San Antonio
49. Ray's Drive Inn822 SW 19th St, San Antonio
50. Maria's CafeNogalitos, San Antonio
El Tejavan is a roadside Mexican restaurant in Amarillo that was a taco-slinging convenience store before it became a full-fledged sit-down spot. Its taco roots are still intact and the al pastor is a must-try, but so are the heartier seafood, chicken, and beef comfort entrees on the multi-page menu.
At its current East Side Austin location since 1969, this family-run Tex-Mex diner serves all-day breakfast and lunch plates like house-made tortillas, thick-cut bacon, breaded pork chops, and refried beans. Don't leave without stopping at the pastry counter for cookies, pan de huevo, and other Mexican baked goods.
Taco-Mex isn't so much a restaurant as much as it's a walk-up take-out window in an Austin strip mall. It doles out quality egg-centric burritos and tacos for breakfast, and lunch/dinner plates like beef and chicken fajitas, crispy fish tacos, and quesadillas, all served with a necessary side of rice and beans. Nothing on the menu is more than $10, and to be honest, most are less than $5.
For legit Mexican baked goods, Mi Tradicion in Austin is your best bet. The display cases at the bakery-slash-diner are stocked with cheesecake, flan, sweet breads, cookies, and there's a mini grocery area with packaged staples. The sit-down spot also serves up tacos, tortas, and empanadas.
This tiny blue taco truck serves some of the best vegan tacos in Austin with animal-free ingredients like tofu, tempeh, and vegan chorizo. Don’t be fooled though: The Vegan Nom’s tacos taste almost exactly like the real thing. Breakfast tacos, filled with tempeh bacon, tofu scramble, and refried black beans, are served all day. Lines can get pretty long during lunch and dinner, but you can call ahead to avoid the wait.
Owned by sisters born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico, this trailer (with a few locations across the city) serves tacos, tortas, and smoothies. The migas -- cloud-like scrambled eggs mixed with house-made tortilla chips, pico de gallo, cheese, avocado, then served atop a fresh tortilla -- are the stand-out dish.
This family-run truck in Capital City serves some Tex-Mex, some barbecue, and some plates that combine the two. Expect mesquite-smoked brisket and ribs served three ways: as platters with coleslaw and pickles, loaded into hamburger buns, or folded into tacos house-made flour tortillas and guacamole. Its location right behind Star Bar means it's a great spot for the post-drinking munchies.
If you have less than 10 dollars in your pocket but still want to pig out on tacos, Tamale House East is the place to go. The original location shuttered when owner Moses Vasquez died in 2014, but his granddaughters brought it back to life at this counter-serve location on East Sixth Street. The massive dog-friendly patio provides ample room to enjoy a few breakfast tacos and an agua fresca.
At the southern tip of Texas close to the Mexican border is Vera's, a roadside restaurant that nails the wonderful combination of Mexican barbecue. The speciality is real South Texan barbacoa cooked the traditional way: by wrapping cow's heads in aluminum foil and cooking them in underground pits. The barbecue method has been banned in most cities, but Vera's has been around for so long that it's allowed to continue under a grandfather clause.
Taqueria Ultimo Taco is an unfussy, borderland Mexican spot dishing out traditional, cattle-centric fare like sweetbread and barbacoa. Also on the menu are tostadas, soups, and, the unanimous favorite, bistek tacos. These perfectly-cooked steak beauties are topped with salty, crumbled queso blanco -- a giveaway you’re eating in the Rio Grande Valley.
A quick drive from Corpus Christi Bay, this unassuming spot is dedicated to the South Texas "super taco:" flour tortilla-wrapped mishmash straining to contain a farmer’s stand worth of ingredients. Among a bevy of Mexican cuisine options, the standout is the signature taco, which combines four pounds of bacon, egg, cheese, potatoes, refried beans, and carne guisada to create the massive Chacho's Taco.
This super no-frills neighborhood taqueria serves up hearty Tex Mex food in a cafeteria-like space. The signature item is the Suicide taco, a next-level breakfast taco made with potatoes, bacon, scrambled eggs, chorizo, refried beans, and cheese. The portions are large, the service dependable, and the dining room packed -- especially on weekends.
Barbacoa Agave is a strip mall Tex-Mex spot that serves basic but crazy good meat-centric food. Unsurprisingly, the main attraction is the tender, char-grilled barbacoa. The corn tortillas are made in-house, and the red and verde salsas are a must. The unfussy dining room tends to get crowded on the weekends, but the wait is worth it.
El Come Taco focuses on simply prepared street tacos made with corn tortillas and filled with brisket, sirloin, or if you're craving a crunch, crispy grasshopper. The add-ons are minimal (most tacos are topped with nothing more than cilantro and chopped onion), letting the juiciness of the meat and the grainy texture of the tortillas speak for themselves.
Tacos Mariachi in West Dallas serves Tijuana-style Mexican food, which translates to street food plates like fries drenched in mole sauce and corn tortilla tacos loaded with carne asada, grilled octopus, sliced avocado. Cash-wise, it's a total bang for your buck.
This Monterrey-style joint in Dallas serves Northern Mexican tacos, quesadillas, and guisos. The tacos are made the authentic street style way, meaning they don't come with rice, beans, and guacamole. Instead, they're filled with simple but flavor-packed pork, beef, or vegetables. Don't be discouraged by Trompo's unassuming and sparse space -- the food is too legit to miss.
This Lake Highlands storefront is founded on tacos, and tacos alone (though there are sides on offer like guacamole and fundido, and kids can indulge in a quesadilla). Enjoy traditional or signature fillings, like pecan-smoked chicken, fish tempura, braised pork shoulder, slow-cooked mushrooms, or the signature caramelized cauliflower taco. Florets are combined with ribbons of crisp, nori-colored kale, pale green pepitas, and a drizzle of lemon-epazote aioli and served on an airy, delicate tortilla made in-house. Enjoy it with a Topo Chico, or for those of age, a house margarita.
Serving up authentic Mexican fare in a no frills, counter service joint, Mi Lindo Oaxaca may not be a lot to look at, but don't knock it's strip mall exterior. Inside, sample traditional dishes that characterize the region of Oaxaca, including memela with chorizo, chepil tamales, and of course tacos: piled on slightly crisped blue corn tortillas, take your pick from meats like salty, sliced beef rib or roasted chapulines (grasshoppers!)
This super festive, family owned and operated spot in Oak Cliff is decked out to the nines in colorful Mexican decor, making it a great spot to indulge in some bold and flavorful grub. The crispy taco, stuffed to the gills with ground beef, lettuce, tomato, and cheese, is an all time favorite. Pair with it a margarita and you've got yourself a top notch meal.
This Austin taco hotspot prides itself on using local and organic ingredients and creating lasting relationships with its suppliers, which is all in the service of creating a healthier and closer-knit community (with tacos!) The family-run business makes freshness a priority, constantly changing and updating the menu with the best of what's available and making room for new inventions from the kitchen. Breakfast tacos, vegetarian and vegan tacos, and an entirely gluten-free menu mark Tacodeli's commitment to giving their customers what they want, and still making delicious food while they do it.
Taco Stop is a Design District taco shack serving up some of DFW's most popular tacos, in record time. This roadside taqueria prides itself on making high-quality tacos en masse, offering them in batches up to 22 at a time. In the morning, the breakfast tacos -- stuffed with eggs, cheese, and a variety of toppings -- fly off the griddle, though the prime rib taco, available only at lunch and dinner, is the standout signature. The juicy prime rib is accompanied by magic onions (translation: onions cooked in bacon fat) and served atop locally made corn or flour tortillas -- your choice -- and topped with cilantro.
This Henderson spot draws inspiration from across the globe to craft its delicious, if not eccentric, tacos. Marrying homemade tortillas with meat and vegetable fillings like fried paneer, Cuban-style roasted pork, and Creole blackened shrimp, Velvet Taco brings out the best of its Texan heritage by mixing it with other cuisines. Margaritas made with fresh squeezed juices help wash down the juicy tacos, and you can and should finish your meal with a slice of homemade red velvet cake that regulars can't get enough of.
This seafood-centric taqueria chain serves up modern Mexican fare in a bustling, upscale eatery situated on McKinney Avenue. High-quality, fresh ingredients for the menu --featuring tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, and signature ceviche -- keep the Uptown outlet of Urban Taco buzzing with diners. Enjoy the ceviche trio while you sip seasonal sangria, tequila, or mezcal on the "see and be seen" triple-tier patio with a club-like atmosphere.
Tortillas are made from scratch and meat's hot and fresh at this low-key spot in Denton. Order from the counter and prepare to overwhelm your senses with bold, smoked barbacoa, spicy mole, and tangy green salsa. Dishes are made fresh and portions are sizable, so you can bring some home, too.
This butcher shop, tortilleria, grocer, and restaurant is an all-in-one experience for your senses. Instead of going the route of good ole' carnitas, or your standard issue quesadilla, stop in and sample delicious, authentic Tex-Mex deep-cuts like colitas de pavo taco: fried turkey tails served up with crunchy cilantro, onion, and sweet lime citrus.
At this snug spot on the southern end of El Paso’s taco row, Alameda Ave, Taqueria La Pila's doling out crispy tortillas, flautas, and tripitas. Portions are generous and totally reasonably priced (6 flautas an order kinda reasoanable), and while the digs may be more on the "hole in the wall" end of the spectrum, this fresh, made to order fare more than makes up for lackluster decor.
This quirky El Paso counter service spot is well worth the wait. Create your own taco meal by selecting your type of meat (sirloin, chicken, pork adobado or tofu), tortilla, salsa, and preparation style: get your taco topped with homemade chorizo (a la campechanos), Korean BBQ Sauce and freshly shaved slaw, or queso fresco and grilled onions (Texan style). if you're in a healthy mood, get your taco served up in a Paleo lettuce wrap.
Avila's Mexican Food has served El Paso for over 60 years as one of the city's premier spots for South of the Border cuisine. This family-owned and operated spot supplies Mexican standards in addition to wine, frozen margaritas, and a convenient drive-thru. Most famous is the picadillo, composed of fried-to-order taco shells, piquant ground beef stewed with potatoes and chiles, warm white cheddar, tomatoes, and crisp lettuce.
Part car wash, part taqueria, part coffee, only in Texas could you find a hybrid of this kind. Get your wheels detailed and while you wait, try out some of the best Tex-Mex fare in El Paso. Breakfast is the meal to go for at 50+ year old spot-- huevos rancheros, chile verde burritos, and potato and egg breakfast burritos are crave-worthy good.
When in El Paso, be sure to check out town favorite Lucy's Cafe. This charming, neighborhood eatery offers solid Tex-Mex fare, including some great breakfast options. Customers go wild for Lucy's Tacos Antonia, named for the owner’s sister. Brisket, cabbage, avocado, and Muenster cheese are tucked into a fried-to-order taco shell, resulting in an eccentric but delicious dish
Specializing in spit-roasted milk-fed kid goat (cabrito) -- unlike the cattle centric Northern Mexico -- Nuevo Leon is named for the Mexican-border state where this goat preparation, cooked over mesquite, is a way of life. Order a platter of your preferred cut -- the adventurous should go for kidneys; the novice should request the shoulder -- and feast on the gamey dish with the accompanying corn tortillas.
Unless you know the address, you’ll likely never find Aguilera’s Café. And unless you go soon, you’ll likely never enjoy the tiny menu cooked by lifelong owner and veteran, Santos Aguilera. Operating out of a shabby white house with turquoise trim and no signage (it’s on the inside), this hidden Fort Worth staple is dimly lit with a smattering of fading booths and tables under WWII memorabilia. The food at Aguilera's does not match its image; the homemade chorizo and carne guisada (beef stew) will make even the pickiest of Tex-Mex eaters melt.
Taco purists, this one's for you. The menu at Salsa Limon in west Forth Worth is almost entirely tacos (save for the sparse options for bowls and breakfast). For a few bucks a pop, you simply pick a filling — chorizo, beef tongue and tripe, among others — to join your pickled cabbage, onion and cilantro inside a corn tortilla. Then you can pair them off with a side of cheese or avocado and wash them down with a house cocktail, beer or wine.
Operating out of Forth Worth's upper west side, Revolver Taco Lounge is a small, family-run joint serving up the highest quality Mexican way under the radar. Its humble signage won't be what draws you in, but the gorgeous, modern setup both inside and on the patio will. Dining here is not a typical Tex-Mex experience -- this place is far upscale of that. Although the breakfast menu is incredible (all-you-can-eat breakfast tacos), you really want to save Revolver for dinner because the tacos are gourmet gatherings of beef tongue, veal, pork shoulder, and duck breast.
This Northside Village standout is known for its fresh tortillas, which one can witness being massaged and flattened regularly. Such beautiful, doughy discs are then used to craft memorable tacos, with highlights being the breakfast taco and spicy fajita. The arbacoa and refried beans is not to be missed, either: Laredo's first-class tortillas are smeared with refried beans and packed with glistening barbacoa.
This old-school drive-in in Northside Village supplies classic Mexican dishes including great barbacoa, carnitas, sweetbreads, tamales, and chicharrones. Most famous is the cachete, or soft beef cheek, which is ooked in a tall pressure cooker out back and strung with rivulets of fat. This dreamy taco is just one of the many traditional plates that this hole-in-the-wall joint offers.
This East End Tex-Mex treasure has been around for almost 40 years, and here there are two very important words you need to know: Breakfast tacos. This joint's serves them (and other breakfast dishes) all day long, and the options are almost endless. For the few spare dollars in your pockets you can load up on a combination of eggs, cheese, potatoes, beans, rice, bacon, chorizo or pork sausage. Dining atmosphere here is ... well, it's your typical Tex-Mex restaurant. If you don't want to sit, however, takeout is incredibly quick.
El Pastor, located just north of the border in McAllen, began serving traditional dishes in Mexico since 1966 before it hopped over to the States in 2009. Throughout its decades-long development, its menu staples (baby goat, charred meat, charro beans, handmade tortillas and hot sauce) haven't been touched; goats are still strictly breast-fed and all meats are charred with mesquite charcoal. What has changed is the addition of a highly praised, all-you-can-eat breakfast bar.
This authentic spot in the Upper Kirby District celebrates the "7 regions of Mexican cuisine," using each region as inspiration for a selection of dishes. Whether its from the Baijio, the Northern Pacific Coast or the Gulf, each dish is packed full of flavor. With massive 240-seat dining space and elegant hacienda decor, Picos is the solution to stale Tex-Mex franchises. It's the place to be at all hours of the day: chilaquiles with specialty coffee drinks at breakfast, carne asada plates or tacos at lunch and Hildalgo-style lamb shank with signature margaritas a dinner.
This under-the-radar food truck, which is usually parked behind a farmer's market in Heights, is what locals call the best taco truck in the city (a bold statement for Houston). The menu is pretty standard for a Mexican joint, but what's special about this place, according to regulars, is the way it's all cooked. The mollejas, tacos and gorditas are practically worshipped for the beautiful crunch of the tortillas and the meat's crispy outsides and tender insides. Because this place has no seating, ordering to go is your best option unless you want to east as you explore the market.
This tiny south Texas taco stand in McAllen is making Mexican food the way it was meant to be made (slowly) and serving it the way it was meant to be served (quickly). The house special carne guisada (beef stew) is cooked for hours until it reaches peak gooey carnivorous perfection then served to hungry customers through the drive-thru window or inside at the narrow counter. Styrofoam cups and plates are the norm here, so there's no need to dress up or make a reservation—just show up hungry.
This small family-owned join that's well known in East End serves up tacos buffet-style, and everything is made right before your eyes. You can watch cooks behind the griddle make fluffy flour and corn tortillas before stuffing said tortillas with breakfast staples such as bacon, eggs and potatoes. If you come for lunch or dinner it'll be carnitas, lengua, chicharrones, and desebrada. The staff and the line move rapidly and the only seating is outside, so you'll be in and out the door in no time.
The West Texas bakery and restaurant serves all the Mexican treats you're craving. If you're feeling savory, start your meal with a beef barbacoa taco, piled high with fresh shredded cheese, crispy lettuce and chunks of tomato. On the sweet side of things, there's pan dulce, pumpkin calabazas, and sweet orejas. Either way, you're bound to enjoy your meal.
This old school drive-in Mexican joint in Odessa serves straightforward standards like tacos, burritos and quesadillas. Your order is delivered straight to your car, where you can show down while admiring the funky wall murals on the side of the restaurant. It's open late, making it the go-to post-night-out spot for locals.
You know what Tommy's deal is before you even enter because it's plastered on the yellow brick wall outside: "Big Red and barbacoa everyday!" Although the barbacoa is the restaurant's prized menu item, most regulars come here for ether breakfast tacos or an enchillada. This local hotspot is perpetually crowded, but service moves fast so you're likely to be in and out of there fast. Otherwise, you can always order to go.
Tucked away in a strip mall in Stone Oak is Guero's, a surprisingly overlooked diner that could contend with San Antonio's barrage of upscale taco spots. The breakfast tacos, mostly combinations of eggs, cheese, chorizo and bacon, are so good that most people who stop by for one are on their way back from a morning workout. The absolute do-not-miss, however, is Guero's signature: The Trash Can, a taco consisting solely of whatever leftovers are lying around. You will never know what you're going to get, but you will always know it's going to be amazing.
Despite its name, Original Donut Shop in Deco District has some of the best breakfast tacos in San Antonio. Here, the menu is split right down the middle between tacos and donuts, and the frenzied crowds waiting for their food inside and in the drive-thru line only leave you a few seconds to order (especially on weekends). Add a lack of an online menu and a cash-only policy and ordering becomes difficult if you don't know what you want. Regulars assure it's more than worth it; they suggest you stick to bacon and egg tacos or any variety of baked-daily donuts.
Taqueria Datapoint is a bright, orange-walled Mexican cafe in northwest San Antonio, and is famous for its massive, flavorful taco plates. Tacos are stacked high with chicken, pork, or barbacoa (the top billing of the toppings) and come with a side of standard fixings like onions, cilantro, avocado, and lime. Breakfast is served all day, so you can get your fix of chilaquiles, topped with a heaping pile of white cheese and salsa verde with a bite, any time the craving strikes. Datapoint's dishes are all best enjoyed with a Big Red Zero to wash it down.
The puffy taco. Any self-respecting San Antonian will tell you it's the signature SA dish, but the debate as to who does them best is heated. Still, Ray’s, home of the original puffy taco (which looks an awful lot like a chalupa or muchaco), is as beloved as any other SA institution. Nine times out of ten, those tacos are what you're gonna be there for, but that doesn't mean you should miss out on Ray's wide selection of other Mexican dishes, seafood, burgers and hot dogs. You can pull up into the actual drive-thru, or order inside for a beer and a trip down memory lane with its memento-lined walls.
Blink and you'll miss this little spot on the side of Nogolitas Street just south of Downtown. It doesn't have a specified parking lot and the outside looks baron, but inside is a bustling, local Tex-Mex favorite. It's probably due to the familial hospitality and the speedy, crispy tacos with homemade tortillas. Finding a table is easy despite the small dining space, which feels less like a restaurant and more like your local antique mall with its hodgepodge of vintage advertisements and other kick knacks on the walls.