Houston’s Best Mexican Restaurants for Cinco de Mayo and Beyond

From cheffy coastal fare to margarita-fueled cantinas, top taco trucks, and the best birria in town.

Houston’s love for Tex-Mex cuisine is quite evident—any good happy hour isn’t complete without chips and Margs, and it’s acceptable to slather pretty much anything in queso at this point—but to fully understand this food-obsessed city, you really need to experience its more traditional Mexican offerings, too. You haven’t lived until you’ve loaded up on real-deal Tacos al Pastor, sucked down more Lechon than the button on your jeans allows, or recovered from a night out with a bowl of rejuvenating, red chile-heavy Posole. In other words, put these fine Mexican restaurants on your H-Town bucket list, stat.

Birrio Los Primas

Downtown
$$$$

This popular Mexican food truck is now a vendor inside Underground Hall, slinging Tijuana-style tacos, tortas, and quesadillas you’re going to want in your mouth right now. It’s family-owned and -operated, and boasts some of the most authentically tasty birria in town. Get dippin’ with classic Birria Tacos, double stacked Birria Mulitas, and even Birria Ramen, to remind you that you really are in Houston.
How to book: Stop by for first-come, first-served seating or order takeout online.

Chivos
Dylan McEwan | Chivos

Chivos

Heights
$$$$

Over in the former Calle Onze space on 11th, chef Thomas Bille (Belly of the Beast) takes on Mexican-American cuisine in a way that fits right in with Houston’s Mutt City moniker. Expect: handmade flour tortillas all fat and ready to drench in truffle butter and salmon roe; equally clever and tasty Pozole Dumplings finished with pork broth with almond salsa macha; soy-glazed and wood-fired Pollo a la Leña; and a stunning Duck Breast ladled with fig mole. There are beautiful cocktails to match—think Oaxacan Old Fashioneds and a West Tejas cocktail made with corn-infused tequila—plus a cajeta- and marshmallow-spiked Xocolatl Tamal you’ll definitely need for dessert.

 

Available for Reservations

Flora Mexican Kitchen

Buffalo Bayou Park
$$$$

The Big Vibe Group (Coppa Osteria, Gratify Neighborhood Bistro) have transformed the former Dunlavy space into a contemporary Mexican kitchen that’s big on both flavor and ambiance. The gorgeous, chandelier-lit glass treehouse overlooking the bayou remains, but you’ll now find table service, a marble-top bar rife with tequila and mezcal, and a killer masa program to complement a showstopping menu exploring the small towns of Mexico. The Barbacoa de Borrego (braised and spiced lamb) is ridiculous, the Pulpo Tostada is a stunner, and you can get Parrilladas sporting the chef’s pick of seafood and meats alongside all the appropriate fixin’s.

 

Available for Reservations
Maize
Cred: Becca Wright | Maize

Maize

Energy Corridor
$$$$

This ode to maize doesn’t mess around when it comes to its corn. Nixtamalized masa is ground on site to make Mexico native and former Xochi executive chef Fabian Saldana’s sublime fare shine. Barbacoa de Res is slow-cooked in agave leaves before falling apart at the touch beside fresh corn tortillas, the pan-seared Pescado arrives swimming in a bright segueza corn sauce, and the Corn Esquites are addicting as ever, as is the Corn Tres Leches.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

Tatemó

Spring Branch East
$$$$

Chef Emmanuel Chavez is on a mission to restore the cultural value of maíz, and we’d say he’s succeeding. Utilizing the ancient nixtamalization technique to process heirloom corn into masa for off-the-charts tortillas, Chavez turned his modern tortilleria pop-up experience into a full blown brick-and-mortar, offering 13-seat tasting menus by reservation plus walk-in service for Sunday brunch. Things to look forward to include Tlacoyos, Sopes, Quesadillas, and Masa Pancakes, plus Pozole, Carne Asada, and so much more.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.

Xochi

Downtown
$$$$

The complex flavors of Oaxaca are on full display at this hotel hotspot from chef Huge Ortega and restaurateur Tracy Vaught. Set in Downtown’s gorgeous Marriott Marquis (yes, the one with the Texas-shaped lazy river), you don’t have to book a room to experience Ortega’s sensational landscape of moles—Tamal de Pollo con Mole Negro (chicken tamales in an earthy black elixir), Camarones en Mole Verde (a zippy green number engulfing head-on shrimp), and Costillas De Puerco en Mole Chicatana (pork ribs with ant mole), plus traditional dishes from Tlayudas (Oaxacan-style pizza) to Moletes (a kind of open-faced sandwich).
How to book: Reserve via SevenRooms.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

El Hidalguense

Spring Branch
$$$$

Tucked away in a strip mall out on Long Point, this family-owned hole-in-the-wall is a veritable local institution. That’s thanks to a righteous roster of eats straight out of the central Mexican state of Hidalgo, including two must-try house specialties: spit-roasted Cabrito Asado (al pastor-style goat) and Barbacoa de Borrego (lamb cooked in penca leaves and served with consomme). You want both. Trust.
How to book: Stop by for first-come, first-served seating.

Caracol

Galleria
$$$$

All three of Chef Hugo Ortega’s restaurants deserve a spot on this list—which is exactly why all three are making an appearance. A sibling to Hugo’s and Xochi, Caracol explores the cuisine of coastal Mexico, with a custom wood-burning oven as the star of the show. Don’t miss the ostiones asados, wood-roasted Gulf oysters dripping in chipotle butter and topped with melted cheese and toasted breadcrumbs, then work your way down the shoreline by way of ceviches, crudos, smoked octopus, calamari, and wood-grilled butterflied fish.
How to reserve/order: Make a dine-in reservation.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

La Fisheria

Downtown
$$$$

Brimming with clams, mussels, mahi, and shrimp, the Vuelve a la Vida soup at this essential seafood emporium will legitimately bring you back to life. As will expertly balanced dishes like Acapulco-style Seafood Cocteles, citrus-kissed and butter-roasted Pompano al Limon, and Mojarra Fritta, a whole damn tilapia fried to a beautiful crisp. Finish with classic desserts like almondy Pastel de Tres Leches and Mexican-style Flan de la Casa.
How to book: Order takeout via ChowNow.

Available for Reservations

Cuchara

Montrose
$$$$

The bold, zesty flavors of Mexico City steal the show at this artsy Neartown bistro, where you’ll want to treat yourself to cervezas, Margaritas, and other tasty libations to pair alongside gorgeous dishes like Ceviche del Día, pork belly-stuffed Gorditas de Chicharrón Prensado, Red Snapper Veracruzana, and a 34-ingredient Mole Negro. On weekends, brunch favorites include Hidalgo-style Lamb Barbacoa, spicy Pozole Rojo, and satisfyingly good Chilaquiles.
How to book: Stop by for first-come, first-served seating or order takeout via Toast.

Hugo's

Montrose
$$$$

dishwasher to James Beard Award-winner (not to mention co-owner of other Mexican game-changers Caracol, Xochi, and the newer, casual URBE). His roots were planted in Mexico City, and his passion continues to impress with dishes like crispy-skinned, achiote-rubbed Lechon and Braised Duck with mole poblano. A true family affair, Hugo’s epic desserts are the brainchild of Ortega’s brother, the talented pastry chef Ruben Ortega.
How to book: Reserve via SevenRooms or get delivery via Uber Eats.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Blind Barber
Photo courtesy of 1800 Tequila

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.

Raised in Monterrey, chef Arnaldo Richards has perfected his grandmother’s homestyle recipes—and then some. His namesake eatery explores seven regional cuisines, from the Spanish-influenced Gulf to the achiote-kissed South. Order Margaritas made with the restaurant’s exclusive barrel-aged tequilas to chase your Enchiladas de Mariscos, chile de arbol-spiced Veal Shank Osso Bucco, and Chiles en Nogada (poblanos stuffed with pulled pork and topped with a walnut-based cream sauce).
How to order: Order takeout and delivery via Toast.

With three locations, wallet-friendly prices, and more-than-generous portions, Teotihuacan—or “Teo,” as it’s affectionately called—counts devotees from all over the city. Each outpost is open for dine-in service in addition to takeout perks like to-go Margs and family-style party packs for those who prefer to feast at home. Hit it up for Veracruz-style Fish, tomatillo-smothered Enchiladas, colossal Chiles Rellenos, and Parrilladas overflowing with grilled short ribs, quail, jumbo shrimp, beef, and chicken. Tack on Tres Leches or fried Sopapillas dusted with cinnamon and sugar for dessert because, hey, you deserve it.
How to book: Stop by for first-come, first-served seating.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Irma's Original

Downtown
$$$$

Expect a menu that switches things up based on seasonality and ingredient availability—and, most importantly, James Beard Award-winning chef-owner Irma Galvan’s culinary intuition. If you can get it, the Handmade Pork Roast Tamale shines with its seamless meat-to-masa ratio, though you can almost always fill up on fresh Spinach Enchiladas, Picadillo Chiles Relleno, Fish Tacos, and Irma’s Homemade Flan.
How to book: Stop by for first-come, first-served seating.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Tacos Tierra Caliente
Tacos Tierra Caliente | Photo by Brooke Viggiano for Thrillist

Fact: Stuffing your face with this truck’s righteous tacos whilst sipping a cold one at the neighboring West Alabama Ice House is a Houston rite of passage. You’ll need at least three of the palm-sized gems to even begin to satisfy that hunger pang, but at around $2 a pop, that’s extremely doable. Choose flour or corn, top with barbacoa, pastor, or lengua, say “yes” to chopped onion and cilantro, and pile on the tremendous red and green salsas.
How to order: Stop by for counter service or order delivery via Favor.

This friendly neighborhood cafe is a fan favorite, where the breakfast is as cheap as it is delicious and, come to think of it, so is lunch. Go for Huevos con Machado, a mess of farm-fresh scrambled eggs peppered with Mexican-style dry beef and served with refried beans, spicy salsa, and tortillas; traditional Chilaquiles, a “breakfast nacho” situation loaded with your choice of tomatillo, guajillo, or ranchero sauce, all made in-house with plenty of soul; or a damn good Chile Relleno stuffed with your choice of picadillo, chicken, or fajita beef.
How to book: Stop by for first-come, first-served seating or order takeout via Clover.

Laredo Taqueria
Taqueria Laredo | Flickr/T.Tseng

Laredo Taqueria

Washington
$$$$

Laredo’s notorious line out the door looks a little different these days, but the dreamy fat-laden tortillas look and taste exactly the same. Stop in for legendary tacos loaded with spicy potatoes, nopales, perfectly blended chorizo and eggs, crispy chicharrones, refried beans, and salsas. If you’re extra hungry, toss in unbeatable Tamales, Enchiladas, and the weekend-only, hangover-anhilliating Menudo.
How to book: Stop by for first-come, first-served seating.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Though Ninfa’s made a name for itself with its classic Tex-Mex fajitas, locals make a beeline for its roster of decidedly more traditional Mexican fare. “Mama” Ninfa Laurenzo got things started when she saved her family’s struggling tortilla factory from demise in 1973, and chef Alex Padilla has done an incredible job of steering the reins since then. Head to either location for oh-so tender Cochinita Pibil, Chile Relleno stuffed with cheese and brisket picadillo, and allllllllll the Enchiladas. Wash it all down with boozy Margaritas to keep the fiesta going.
How to order: Order takeout and delivery via Aloha.

Available for Reservations

We Houstonians are all about that tamale life. Sit at any bar long enough, and you’ll likely hear that beautiful “tamale, tamale” siren song, prompting you to fish out a few precious dollars in exchange for a foil-wrapped pack of the good stuff. And while your local dive’s tamale guy may tote the best in town, the second best are undoubtedly found here at Alamo. The Northside spot dishes out steamy hand-rolled beauts loaded with jalapeño and cheese, sweet corn, or shredded pork alongside addictive red and green salsas. Eat. Rinse. Repeat.
How to book: Stop by for first-come, first-served seating.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who suddenly has a ton of weekend plans. Follow her journeys on IG @brookiefafa or on Twitter @brookeviggiano.