Food & Drink

The Best Mexican and Latin American Restaurants in Nashville

Pupuseria Reina La Bendici贸n
Pupuseria Reina La Bendici贸n | Pupuseria Reina La Bendici贸n
Pupuseria Reina La Bendici贸n | Pupuseria Reina La Bendici贸n

Every year, Nashville is growing more and more diverse, and with that wave of immigration comes delicious food. A quick drive through East Nashville or Downtown will confirm it: we've got a vibrant Mexican and Latin American food scene in this town -- whether you're looking for tacos, margaritas, or mofongo. So ditch the chain restaurants and their happy-hour nachos served out of the bed of a truck, and check out some of these more authentic Mexican and Latin American options.

Taqueria La Juquilita

Sylvan Park

Don鈥檛 let its spare exterior fool you
This hole in the wall is the sort of place that friends don鈥檛 even tell friends about because they don鈥檛 want the secret to get out. Neither the tables nor the seats are what we'd call fancy, and the menu might be short and, but there鈥檚 not a bad item on it. Even the soup of the day is a safe bet, every day. Keep in mind that it's cash-only, though.

La Hacienda Taqueria

Berry Hill

Enjoy the morning meal any time day or night
鈥淟a Ha鈥 is one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in town, thanks in part to its on-site tortilla making. The menu is massive and affordable with plenty of combos and platters, but with breakfast served all day, can you really resist huevos con chorizo for dinner?

Las Americas Market and Restaurant

Downtown

Best for Central American fare and the attached grocery store
If you walk in through the wrong door, you might think Las Americas is just a grocery store. But keep going to the next room, and you鈥檒l discover some of the most delicious, inexpensive Central American food in town. It鈥檚 tough to spend more than 10 bucks before you鈥檙e full on tortas and pupusas. It's also got a handy little Central American and Hispanic grocery store attached where you can buy all sorts of supplies for your at-home flavor experiments.

El Jaliciense

East Nashville

For tripe tacos and micheladas, go no further
A favorite among the East Nashville crowd, El Jaliciense is known for serving old-school street tacos, wrapped with two corn tortillas and stuffed with traditional fillings like spicy pork and beef, as well as a veggie menu and more unconventional options like tripe or tongue. Be sure to try their popular micheladas, too.

Taqueria Azteca

Sylvan Park

Lingua and tinga cooked in a truck out back
A twist on the usual food truck operation, Taqueria Azteca is a small brick-and-mortar location where the food is cooked in a vehicle parked out back. Carnitas and spicy chicken tinga are the power move here, and you can always augment them with an order of sopes.

Fogatas

Downtown

A hidden gem with live music in the Lowe's parking lot
You鈥檒l have to drive to the back of a Lowe鈥檚 parking lot to find this spot, but you鈥檒l be rewarded for your efforts with an extensive menu of Mexican specialties from cactus to huitlacoche quesadillas. That second dish is made with a delicious fungus that grows on corn and is sometimes referred to as 鈥淢exican truffles.鈥 If you鈥檙e there on the right night, you鈥檒l be treated to live music.

Tacos y Mariscos Lopez

Downtown

A bounty of oceanic delights
Mariscos is Spanish for seafood, so that鈥檚 really the order of the day here. The restaurant鈥檚 version of a shrimp cocktail is probably the best deal, and the kitchen is pretty talented at frying fish. For landlubbers, the usually mundane dish of grilled chicken is a standout.

Pupuseria Reina La Bendici贸n

Berry Hill

Legit Central American fare
Unless you speak Spanish, you鈥檒l have to point and order from the menu at this fantastic Salvadoran joint. Fortunately, anything you randomly pick is most probably delicious. Look for the word 鈥渓oroco,鈥 an edible flower with a nutty green flavor that鈥檚 an exotic addition to some of the pupusas and platters.

Plaza Mariachi

Nolensville Road

Nashville鈥檚 new vibrant Latin American food hall
This colorful collection of Latin restaurants offers all sorts of excellent dining options specializing in tacos, churrasco, paletas, ceviche, and a fancier sit-down coffee shop and grill named Madera Cafe if you鈥檙e looking for a full meal. In addition to food, it's also got stores to browse and shop, a dance studio, and even an arcade for kids.

Honduras Restaurant

Eighth Avenue

Step through the door into Tegucigalpa
The menu at this strip-mall cantina is heavy on stewed meats, beans, and cheese. The daily specials are always a good bet, and brave souls should ask for the secret house hot sauce to torque up the spice levels. For Honduran food, you can do no better in this town.

Mas Tacos, Por Favor

East Nashville

Tacos, yes, but also great soup
Everybody raves about the tacos (and rightly so), but don鈥檛 miss out on Mas Tacos鈥 amazing chicken tortilla soup or their pozole verde and its multiple levels of flavors, either. Of course, you should go ahead and order some tacos too, especially the cast iron chicken with salsa verde and sour cream. You'll get full and spend just about $10, but be sure to bring cash.

Salsa Puerto Rican and Latin Cuisine

SoBro

Piquant Puertorrique帽o fare
Probably Nashville鈥檚 best spot for gorgeously plated empanadas and mofongo (a dish built on a mass of fried plantains, for those unfamiliar), this cozy spot is popular with Cummins Station workers or folks on the way to a show at nearby Mercy Lounge. They also host a festive happy hour with cheap boozy rum drinks.

Rosepepper Cantina

East Nashville

Excellent margaritas with a side of snark
The prominent sign outside of this East Nashville fave is a frequent Instagram and Twitter feature thanks to the clever aphorisms they post on a regular basis. (Current Twitter profile pic: "Warning: Bad Hombres and Nasty Women Inside.") Maybe that鈥檚 what draws folks in, but it鈥檚 the exemplary (and strong) margaritas and spicy enchiladas that keep them coming back.

Back to Cuba Cafe

Berry Hill

Authentic island food in an intimate space
From its legit ropa vieja -- a fully stacked presentation of rice, meat, and peppers -- to the lechon asado -- a rich whole hog preparation -- Back to Cuba Cafe offers the closest Nashville comes to Miami in both its ambiance and cuisine. There鈥檚 even a dedicated domino table by the front door of the dining room.

El Palenque

Green Hills

Steady Green Hills stalwart
The tony Green Hills neighborhood isn鈥檛 exactly known as a hotbed of ethnic diversity, but this local favorite still provides rice, beans, meat and cheese stuffed into tortillas in exactly all the combinations you鈥檇 expect. Sometimes all you want is a cheesy burrito for a cheap lunch, and in this neighborhood, you can't beat it.

El Metate Aut茅ntico Mexican Restaurant

East Nashville

Nothin鈥 fancy, and it's still the local chefs鈥 favorite
Boxy cinderblock building? Check. Decor consisting mainly of Corona banners? Yep. A long menu of combo plates served on huge platters? Correct. The combos all priced at $9? Heaven. You know you鈥檙e in a genuine Mexican humble diner, and local chefs count El Metate among their guilty pleasures.

Nada

Midtown

Hip newcomer with primo queso
Part of a small regional chain, Nada serves upscale tacos in a glamorous setting. Its bar is hopping, and Nada's Queso Gringo rises above its snide name thanks to the addition of smoked Gouda, black bean puree, rajas con crema, and a spicy habanero salsa. The plush leather seating, sweeping ceilings, wood paneling, and exposed brick only add to the vibe.

Chago's Cantina

Belmont/Hillsboro

The neighborhood's student favorite
Located across the street from Belmont University, Chago鈥檚 know their audience. They鈥檝e introduced a generation of students to classic Latin American dishes that are flavorful without being too challenging, and they offer some of the best vegetarian Mexican options in town. It's also got two outdoor patios to enjoy.

La Terraza

Downtown

You can smell the grill when you walk in
Grilled meat and seafood dishes are the specialty at La Terraza. If you can鈥檛 decide, get the Parrillada Mar y Tierra, a Mexican surf-and-turf plate of steak, chicken breast, shrimp, fish fillets, and chorizo. They also keep a great selection of tequila behind the bar, if you're feeling thirsty.

Carniceria y Taqueria Don Juan

Berry Hill

Meat, meat, and more meat
You know a place is old-school legit when the menu is painted on the cinder-block wall next to the small window for ordering. Street tacos and burritos are the order of the day at on Juan, and while people rightfully rave about the al pastor, don鈥檛 sleep on the spicy chorizo. Just look for the giant signs that say "TACOS" and "CARNICERIA."

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Chris Chamberlain is a food and beverage writer in Nashville. He likes to eat in all of these places, and fortunately his memory of Spanish from high school is very
useful when ordering.