Mexican fare ranks with Italian and Chinese as Americans' top-three favorite global cuisines, according to the National Restaurant Association. But while tacos and enchiladas may seem commonplace in America now, that wasn’t always the case.
To be sure, Americans have been influenced by the flavors of our neighbor to the south for hundreds of years. But it wasn't until refugees from southern and central Mexico brought their culinary traditions north to the U.S. during the Mexican Revolution that dishes like tacos found their way into the mainstream. An increasingly global culture (and a growing number of Mexican fast-food mainstays and high-end restaurants) have cemented Mexican food's beloved role in U.S. cuisine. Which begs the question: Where does one go for the best Mexican food in every state?
To find out, Stacker turned to Foursquare’s algorithm that ranks locations based on user check-ins, rating signals, category matches, tips, and photo trends.
Read on to find the best Mexican restaurant in your own home state.
Address: 2201–2215 2nd Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203
El Barrio’s locally sourced menu is inspired by multi-regional, Mexican cuisine—tacos al carbon are a fan favorite. Customers who are more interested in the bar and grill's liquid offerings can sip on a seasonal margarita or choose from a list of local craft beers. Tips on Foursquare say to head to the restaurant early, as it gets packed quickly.
Address: 1230 W. 27th Ave., Anchorage, AK 99503
Bear Tooth Grill's fusion-style menu has captured the hearts and stomachs of Anchorage locals and tourists alike. The restaurant's owners also run a nearby pub and pizzeria called Moose’s Tooth, the Bear Tooth Theatrepub, and Broken Tooth Brewing. The restaurant is ranked #10 for seafood in Anchorage, so be sure to try the fish or shrimp tacos, which can be washed down with a cocktail made with one of 90 tequilas.
Address: 3815 N. Brown Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
The Mission serves modern Latin cuisine, from duck carnitas empanadas to grilled street corn. Chefs are happy to make the majority of meals gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan. Likewise, if diners have an allergy, dietary restriction, or even a dietary preference, they’re encouraged by a note on the menu to let their servers know.
Address: 5923 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, AR 72207
The Baja Grill's Mexi-Cali menu features Baja crab cakes and the highly recommended honey chipotle tacos. The restaurant won three Arkansas Times Readers Choice Awards in 2014: Best Food Truck, Best Restaurant, and runner-up for Best Mexican.
Address: 2779 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110
Open until 2 a.m., Taqueria El Farolito has captivated San Francisco’s night owls with its super burritos: carne asada, suiza, and al pastor get frequent mentions in Foursquare’s tips. Described by some of its patrons as a hole-in-the-wall, this restaurant also takes the top spot on Foursquare for the best burrito in San Francisco.
Address: 1530 16th St., Denver, CO 80202
"The more. The merrier," is more than just a tagline at Illegal Pete’s, which boasts two locations in Arizona and nine in Colorado, with six in Denver alone. The customers at the 16th Street location rave about the $4 margaritas and say the restaurant the perfect stop for a late-night bite.
Address: 222 Summer St., Stamford, CT 06901
Located in the downtown area of Stamford, bartaco (with locations in 10 states) takes its inspiration from the beach cultures of Brazil, Uruguay, and Southern California. Foursquare reviewers recommend the eatery's more unique dishes, such as the bison taco, mushroom tamale, or sesame ribeye tacos.
Address: 483 Stanton Christiana Rd., Newark, DE 19713
Border Cafe has six restaurants in three states, but Delaware’s only Border Cafe is the state’s favorite spot for Mexican. Reviewers on Foursquare highly recommend the Gulf Coast seafood enchiladas and the fajitas.
Address: 2300 NW 2nd Ave. #3, Miami, FL 33127
Freshness is a priority for Coyo Taco, where margaritas are made from scratch. It shows: One Foursquare reviewer said, “Hands-down the best Mexican food I’ve had in my life.” Reviewers rave about the tacos, too—especially the carnitas de pato (crispy duck).
Address: 2827 Poipu Road, Kōloa, HI 96756
Hawaii is more than 3,000 miles away from Mexico, but residents can still find tasty Mexican fare on the islands. Unsurprisingly, Da Crack does fish and shrimp tacos superbly well. But be prepared for a casual dining experience: Customers order at a walk-up counter and there is no place to sit and eat.
Address: 8233 W. Franklin Road, Boise, ID 83709
Patricia and Steve Stanley opened the first Cafe Rio Mexican Grill in southern Utah in 1997 and expanded to six restaurants before Bob Nilsen purchased Cafe Rio in 2004. There are now more than 100 locations across the U.S. The patrons of the Boise restaurant recommend ordering anything with the barbacoa pork.
Address: 334 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46204
Bakersfield's Massachusetts Avenue location is the city's go-to spot for margaritas and ranked #1 for tacos in Indianapolis. The restaurant takes a creative approach with its cocktails, which they mix each morning—try the spicy pineapple margarita.
Address: 1316 Pierce St., Sioux City, IA 51105
Reviewers call La Juanita the best Mexican food in town, and say it’s the best spot to get burritos for “a thousand miles.” Tips on Foursquare say to try the steak tacos and the spicy carrots. The fish tacos are also a fan favorite.
Address: 903 N. 7th St. (at Armstrong Avenue), Kansas City, KS 66101
Foursquare commenters rave about El Camino Real's authenticity, particularly the al pastor tacos. An added bonus—the restaurant is relatively inexpensive at $1.50 per taco, less than $6 for a torta, under $7 for a burrito, and less than $3 for a sope or gordita.
Address: 938 Baxter Ave., Louisville, KY 40204
The tortas and tacos at El Taco Luchador are tasty enough to convince customers to wait for tables in the small dining room during peak times. Rest assured, reviewers say the wait is well worth it—try the carnitas torta and the homemade mole.
Address: 2018 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130
There’s no shortage of good eats in New Orleans, but Juan’s Flying Burrito still manages to attract crowds with its pork and slaw tacos and house margaritas. The redfish tacos also get quite a few mentions on Foursquare.
Address: 36 Walker St., Kittery, ME 03904
Luis Valdez and his wife, Ramona, opened Loco Coco’s Tacos in 2004 after moving to the East Coast from San Diego, Calif., The couple has been sharing their family's recipes with Maine ever since. Reviewers note that Loco Coco’s Tacos is one of the only place to get authentic tamales in the area.
Address: 92 Peterborough St., Boston, MA 02215
A short walk from Fenway Park, El Pelon Taqueria is the best Mexican restaurant in the state and ranked first in Boston for burritos, which are reportedly “the size of your forearm.” El Pelon Taqueria serves up burritos with fried plantains, which reviewers have fallen head over heels for.
Address: 12275 Highway 49, Gulfport, MS 39503
Taco Sombrero makes everything fresh for its customers at both its locations in Gulfport and Biloxi. The establishment opened in 1979 to “introduce quality Mexican food to Gulfport in a quick and affordable ‘fast-food’ format.” Everything—from the chili sauce to the hot sauce—is prepared from scratch.
Address: 908 Lafayette Ave., St Louis, MO 63104
Open late, Mission Taco Joint in St. Louis offers some of the city’s best Mexican fare. Customers can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but fans love the brisket and the fish tacos. Reviewers on Foursquare also say the street corn is a must-order.
Address: 1600 U.S. Highway 93 S., Kalispell, MT 59901
The family-owned Casa Mexico delivers cuisine “steeped in culture and tradition,” treating diners like members of the family. Patrons frequently comment on the salsa, which is homemade, as are the guacamole and sauces.
Address: 2655 E. Desert Inn Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89121
One Foursquare reviewer commented that eating at Original Lindo Michoacan is like having a meal at your "abuelita’s" (grandma's) house—a positive point for authenticity. Patrons love the guacamole, which is made tableside, and comment on the amazing customer service and large portions.
Address: 2400 Central Ave. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106
Reviewers note that along with the tasty food, Frontier Restaurant is a fun place to hang out with friends well into the night. The restaurant is a true Albuquerque staple. If you go, order the green chile burger, which was featured on Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food Nation” and gets quite a few mentions from fans.
Address: 114 Kenmare St., New York, NY 10012
The flagship La Esquina location was established in 2006 in an old subway station and comes complete with a secret brasserie below the stairs. Those traveling to eat here would be wise to make a reservation: at least 21 days in advance for parties of eight or less, and a full month ahead of time for a party with more than nine people.
Address: 6401 Morrison Blvd. Ste. 8A, Charlotte, NC 28211
Paco's Tacos & Tequila specializes in Tex-Mex with large portions and offers more than 100 tequila choices to its customers. Reviewers agree you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but fans love the barbecue butter corn and the No Name Margarita. Paco’s is ranked #2 on Foursquare for best tacos in the country.
Address: 38 N. Trenton Ave., Tulsa, OK 74120
If you're ever in Tulsa, head to El Rio for a glass of horchata on tap and a smothered burrito. You can’t go wrong with the wet burrito—one reviewer recommends adding chorizo for some extra spice.
Address: 3524 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland, OR 97227
Also rated #1 for tacos in Portland, best-in-state Mexican restaurant ¿Por Qué No? offers a happy hour menu with discounts on food and drinks. The business support the local economy and community by using local suppliers and aiding local organizations that focus on social justice.
Address: 121 S. 13th St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
Experts at Visit Philly and Philadelphia Magazine both recommend a stop at El Vez, which describes itself as “the ideal balance between a south-of-the-border celebration and a hot and flashy Las Vegas blowout.” Try the guacamole with unique mix-ins and the blood orange margarita, both recommended by Foursquare reviewers.
Address: 19 Charles St., Newport, RI 02840
Serving out of the former home of an 18th-century naval officer in Newport, R.I., Perro Salado offers creative cocktails like the prickly pear, cilantro-jalapeño, and spicy cucumber margaritas, and indulgent dishes like the lobster quesadilla. To offset wage disparity, Perro Salado adds a 1% fee to checks, which is paid to the back-of-house kitchen staff.
Address: 155 E. Bay St., Charleston, SC 29401
The highly recommended chargrilled chicken wings at Minero in Charleston are smothered tableside in Valentina hot sauce. Head to the restaurant Monday through Friday for happy hour from 3:30-6:30 p.m. to try these famous wings, plus the queso ranchero, carnitas sliders, and guacamole, each for just $5 a dish.
Address: 4901 S. Louise Ave., Sioux Falls, SD 57106
South Dakota’s favorite Mexican restaurant is the fast-casual chain Qdoba, which is particularly popular for the Sioux Falls lunch hour. Qdoba fans love the queso on just about everything, especially the burritos.
Address: 109 N. Market St., Chattanooga, TN 37405
Ranked #1 for tacos in Chattanooga, state favorite Taco Mamacita has a wide selection of unique tacos that include the sloppy Jose, Korean BBQ, and the shrimp homeboy tacos. Reviews also approve of the street corn and the sweet potato fries.
Address: 2704 Navigation Blvd., Houston, TX 77003
Ninfa's on Navigation is the best spot for Mexican in the state of Texas, but also ranked #4 for cheese in Houston—most likely be attributed to its queso flameado: a cheese casserole with chorizo. The shrimp wrapped in bacon tacos are also a must order.
Address: 736 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84116
Red Iguana offers several type of mole, including negro, amarillo, poblano, verde, and coloradito, as well as special moles on certain days, such as strawberry or mango moles. The enchiladas also have quite a few fans, with one reviewer going as far to say the enchiladas alone are worth a visit to Utah.
Address: 5036 Main St., Manchester, VT 05255
Cilantro does burritos particularly well, although reviewers also give high scores to the freshness of all the food on the menu. The homemade strawberry and peach sodas are also worth a try, as are the street-style tacos.
Address: 701 S. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314
District Taco started as a food truck in 2009, but now has several locations in Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The restaurant, which offers Yucatan-style Mexican cuisine, serves breakfast all day long, including multiple kinds of breakfast tacos and huevos rancheros.
Address: 5431 Ballard Ave. NW, Seattle, WA 98107
The mole dishes at La Carta De Oaxaca are raved about by reviewers, as is the salsa bar. Oaxaca in La Carta De Oaxaca refers to the southern Mexico state, which is surrounded by rugged terrain that has helped keep its indigenous cultural traditions and food intact.
Address: 132 Pleasant St., Morgantown, WV 26505
Black Bear Burritos’ menu is inspired by Mexican food, but the restaurant takes quite a bit of creative liberty with its burritos and quesadillas: Menu items include the Thai One On, the Turkey Reuben, and the Feta Fetish. Customers have the option to build their own burritos, salad wraps, quesadillas, nachos, and salads. Reviewers note the fresh ingredients are fantastic, even if the eatery's menu isn’t authentically Mexican.
Address: 1935 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202
BelAir Cantina is Wisconsin’s favorite Mexican restaurant overall, and by far Milwaukee’s favorite spot for tacos— which customers can get for $2 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The restaurant serves California-style Mexican fare, offers vegetarian and vegan food (as well as a two-page, gluten-free menu).