Food & Drink

The 12 Tacos in Miami We Can't Stop Eating

Published On 07/28/2016 Published On 07/28/2016
Coyo Taco
Courtesy of Coyo Taco
Courtesy of Bodega Taqueria y Tequila

Al Pastor

Bodega Taqueria y Tequila

Address and Info

South Beach

The pineapple-and-pork concoction that is al pastor is massively popular in Miami, but nobody does it with quite the perfection of this South Beach shop. The pineapple is flame-broiled, creating a smoky flavor that mixes perfectly with the pork, red onion, and cilantro. It’s just as delicious at lunchtime as it is when you’re leaving the bar in back at 3am.

Carnitas De Pato

Coyo Taco

Address and Info

Wynwood/Brickell

Some things in Miami are worth waiting in line for. Admission to a club? Absolutely not. Literally anything from Coyo? Absolutely. But if you want to experience the best chef Scott Linquist has to offer, try this taco, which combines traditional Mexican spices with slow-braised duck, an already-flavorful meat. It’s one of the richest tacos you’ll ever have, as it matches complex flavor with traditional spice.

Matt Meltzer/Thrillist

Chorizo Taco

El Taquito

Address and Info

Little Havana

While the giant spit of al pastor behind the counter might look like the main draw at this Little Havana taco counter, the go-to taco is the chorizo. The tacos here are simple: meat, onion, cilantro, and a tortilla, so the flavor from the Mexican chorizo shines through as a meaty-spicy mix that pairs best with the smoky salsa roja served on the side. It’s a taco not found many places, and while the whole menu here is fantastic, the chorizo taco is special.

Churrasco Taco

Tacos & Tattoos

Address and Info

Kendall

First off: no, you cannot get a tattoo here, though the combination of hot needles and habanero salsa does sound strangely inviting. This Kendall taqueria tucked away in a tiny strip mall draws people from all over Miami for its inventive tacos like this one. Not content to throw some ubiquitous skirt steak on a house-made tortilla, this taco starts with a gooey layer of Mexican cheese mix and tops it with marinated, flame-broiled churrasco, then adds red cabbage for crunch and avocado salsa for a creamy finish. The bite is surprisingly complex for something as simple as a taco, but the combination of flavors and textures makes this one of the more intricate taco-eating experiences around.

Matt Meltzer/Thrillist

Fried Chicken Taco

Huahua's Taqueria

Address and Info

South Beach

This pioneering experiment in boosting cholesterol is the trademark menu item at this dog-friendly SoBe taco joint, and is a venerable platter of deliciousness served on a corn tortilla plate. This one is best eaten open-faced, so you can enjoy each bite of the hot fried chicken breast with a bite of jalapeño cornbread and ancho ranch. Healthy it is not. But one can be enough for a full meal.

#1 Ahi Tuna Taco

TacoCraft

Address and Info

South Miami

Miami doesn’t really “do” fish tacos, kind of like we don’t “do” surfing, good driving, or other West Coast staples. But we DO do tuna exceptionally well, and the best seafood taco in town is this Asian-inspired ahi number. It starts with a piece of blackened tuna that’s complemented with a creamy citrus kick from the mandarin oranges and avocado. The taco avoids being too mushy thanks to a tangy Asian slaw and crispy rice noodles to give it a crunch, creating a full entrée experience in a house-made tortilla.

Matt Meltzer/Thrillist

Pollo Taco

Taqueria El Carnal

Address and Info

Little Havana

You want authentic? How about instead of a cool speakeasy behind your taco shop, you have a single stall bathroom that looks like it hasn’t been cleaned since the Reagan administration? But that’s just part of the ambiance at El Carnal, the closest to a real Mexican taco shop you’re getting in the 305. The slow-braised pulled chicken taco is made up of salty, juicy white meat that melts in your mouth with an explosion of adobo spice. Top it with the spicy red salsa served alongside for a savory/spicy mix that’s so addictive it’ll be hard to eat less than three.

Pollo Asado

Tequiztlan

Address and Info

South Beach

For years, Rancho Grande on Lincoln Rd was the only place in Miami to get a decent taco. Even though they closed and re-opened as this Sunset Harbour Mexican spot, the tacos are still just as great. Everything on the menu is fantastic, but the intricate seasoning on the meats shines the most against the white meat chicken in this taco. Topped simply with cilantro, onion, and lime, it’s a light bite that leaves plenty of room for the signature margaritas.

Taquiza

Carnitas Taco

Taquiza

Address and Info

South Beach

Though the cinnamon-and-orange-braised carnitas here can hold their own with any in Miami, what sets this spot at the HI Miami Beach Hostel aside are the tortillas. Blue corn is nothing new, but these hand-ground ones offer a warm, comfortable pillow to the spicy, juicy pork on top. The collection of sauces available are certainly worth trying, but with tortillas this unique and meat this well-prepared, you likely won’t need them.

Taco de lengua

Viva Mexico

Address and Info

Little Havana

For the adventurous eater, hit this taco counter in the heart of Little Havana where diners are greeted with a menu board boasting ear, head, and tongue tacos. The last one on that list is its signature item, a tortilla filled with diced lengua -- beef tongue for you gringos -- that tastes just like beef, but a little more tongue-y. If you’re intimidated, Viva Mexico serves it with a tray of about eight house-made hot sauces that can cover it up. But if you want to live on the edge of the glorious taco world, this is the place to do it.

Courtesy of Peppers Burrito Grill

Barbacoa hard shell taco

Pepper's Authentic Mexican

Address and Info

South Beach (& other locations)

Hard shells are tricky, because even some of the more “authentic” taco joints tend to over-fry them and leave a taco tasting like nothing but oil. Other places leave them too dry, reminding one of Taco Bell. Pepper's strikes a perfect balance, with a warm, crispy shell that’s not dripping in grease, but still adds texture to the experience. It’s best used to wrap the juicy barbacoa, a savory, spicy pulled beef that can soak through soft tortillas. And the combination of the succulent meat, the cool lettuce, tomato, and onion, and the warm shell makes this a perfectly balanced taco.

Carne Asada Taco

Tacos The Fury

Address and Info

Little Havana

Tacos The Fury isn’t a food truck filled with hipsters serving up Korean kimchee tacos for $5 a pop outside of a brewery. It’s a food truck in the real way, with an old Mexican lady making family-recipe tacos in the parking lot of a body shop. The finely diced carne asada here has a barbecued taste even when cooked on a flat grill, creating a salty-spicy flavor that could stand by itself. But when topped with the truck’s signature red sauce -- which never tastes EXACTLY the same twice -- it’s the kind of taco that makes you realize no matter how many gourmet taco places open up, the best ones always come from places like this.

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1. Bodega Taqueria y Tequila 1220 16th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (Miami Beach)

Strings of hanging lights, graffiti art, and neon spray-painted barstools create a vibrant Havana-meets-Brooklyn vibe at Bodega, a taco shop that's cooler than most thanks to its not-so-secret speakeasy out back. An outhouse door near the dining area leads to a sultry, two-level bar that mixes industrial decor with plush velvet sofas and Persian carpets. Tequila is the alcohol of choice here, and though house cocktails are available, your best bet is to order the bartender's choice.

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2. Coyo Taco 2300 NW 2nd Ave. #3, Miami, FL 33127 (Wynwood)

Coyo is a grilled-meat taco emporium whose house-made tortillas are filled with everything from crispy duck and grilled cactus to charred octopus and slow-roasted pork shoulder. Tacos come two per order, and if you prefer your meat-and-tortilla combo in another form, you can "convert" it into a burrito, salad bowl, or burrito bowl. The Wynwood original has a bar in the back where you'll usually find a weekend DJ set.

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3. El Taquito 1380 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135 (Little Havana)

Proving that you can have high quality, traditional Mexican food without breaking the bank, this local counter service chain serves some serious flavor. Its Little Havana outpost is a popular lunch destination, filling up quickly with Floridians looking to get their fix of spice-obsessed chorizo tacos and house-made chips. While we suggest arriving on the earlier side to snag a seat in the cozy, festive space, don’t worry if you’re left with the patio -- decked with glowing strings of light and lush, tropical flora, you can’t go wrong either way.

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4. Tacos and Tattoos 10720 SW 113th Pl, Miami, FL 33176

At this artsy spot, you can chow on chorizo rice bowls, creative burritos, and Nutella-filled donuts. They rep the Taco Tuesday trend hard, so if you need a Tuesday night out, here’s the play.

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5. Huahua's Taqueria 1211 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (Miami Beach)

This Mex-taurant's got you covered from morning to late-night, with breakfast tacos, enchiladas, and tacos. They've got a great beer selection, strawberry-passionfruit and lime margs, and even dog biscuits and outdoor water bowls if your pooch's along for the ride.

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6. TacoCraft 5829 SW 73rd St, South Miami, FL 33143 (Fort Lauderdale)

Appealing to the Miami masses, TacoCraft is a boutique taqueria and dive bar in one. Marrying heirloom family recipes with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and modern presentation, the kitchen slings standouts like ahi tuna and chorizo tacos in a hip, stylish space (think barebones wood paneling, tattoo-like sugar skulls and graffiti adorning the walls, and violet mood lighting). While the spot blows up on Taco Tuesdays, it’s a prime late night option, so swing through when your drunk munchies get truly unbearable.

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7. Taqueria El Carnal 1128 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33130 (Little Havana)

No one does authentic Mexican street food like Taqueria El Carnal. Situated in a bare-bones digs, this Little Havana outpost is all about the eats: affordable tacos that are addictive in their simplicity and freshness, served with a variety of homemade salsas whose spice level is guaranteed to make you sweat. It’s delicious around the clock but especially popular as a late night and/or early morning spot, so you can chow down on the weekends until the sun comes up.

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8. Tequiztlan Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar 1884 Bay Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (Miami Beach)

The reincarnation of the former El Rancho Grande, Tequiztlan keeps all the culinary goodness of its predecessor and serves it in a ramped up, sleek space (the chrome vents of the exposed ceiling above go rather nicely with the industrial vibe and traditional brass chandeliers, making for a trendy ambience). It’s still owned and operated by the Ortiz family, who have been providing South Beach with quality Mexican fare for the past 25 years, so there’s no need to worry: all the tacos you so loved at the old digs are here and just as good -- if not better, when considered alongside a more extensive tequila and mezcal list.

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9. Taquiza 1506 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Just under the HI Miami Beach Hostel building, you'll find blue masa tacos that are the signature of this small taqueria. The colorful tortilla wraps almost a dozen kinds of tacos here, including pollo, lengua, and chorizo, and is served alongside a small selection of Mexican and local beers. There's a small patio area where you can enjoy your street grub, but we recommend taking it to the beach for a breezy meal.

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10. Viva México 502 SW 12th Ave, Miami, FL 33130 (Little Havana)

It’s telling that this Little Havana joint was forced to relocate down the block to a larger digs: in order to accommodate the hungry mouths who flocked from all over Miami to snack on these tacos, Viva México had to ramp up its operation. The spot still has the vibe of an endearingly divey neighborhood hole-in-the-wall (vibrant falsa blankets draped from pink rafters, interspersed by festive multicolored paper lanterns), and the food is as satisfying as ever. At a first glance, the most popular items may seem too adventurous for the faint of heart (beef tripe tacos, anyone?), but we have a feeling you’ll be up to the challenge with a wholly inspired appetite.

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11. Pepper's Burrito Grill 298 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33131 (Brickell)

Located in Brickell, this modestly sized fast-casual Mexican restaurant uses authentic Mexican recipes from the chef's own family trove to match local taste. While homemade guacamole, taco salads, and chicken fajitas are all popular orders, an especially successful item is the hard shell barbacoa taco, which manages to combine juicy, spiced beef with a perfectly fried hard shell that won't break at the touch.

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