The best Mexican food in New York

From tacos to Tex-Mex, we've got your South of the Border cravings covered

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Chilaquiles Rojos at Tortilleria Nixtamal

Chilaquiles Rojos at Tortilleria Nixtamal Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Prevailing wisdom says that New York Mexican food can’t compare to the stuff they’re slinging out West. Consider this list of NYC’s best tacos, burritos, tamales, guacamole and more to be our convincing retort. We’ve braved the spiciest salsas (and plenty of trips to the outer boroughs) to compile this roundup of the best Mexican grub in New York. Did we miss your favorite Mexican restaurant in NYC? Join the conversation in the comments.

1

Tortilleria Nixtamal

  • Price band: 1/4

Mexican eateries are ubiquitous in Corona, but unlike most, this sunny, family-run tortilleria painstakingly grinds corn into fresh masa for many of its dishes. This means that the tamales are delicate and fluffy, and profoundly corny tortillas envelop fillings such as fried skate in the first-rate fish tacos. The Italian tamale ($2.50) is a melting-pot marvel of steamy masa, sausage, peppers and mozzarella.

  1. 104-05 47th Ave, (at 104th St)
More info
2

Mesa Coyoacan

  • Critics choice

Chef Ivan Garcia (Mercadito) explores his Mexico City roots at this eatery, named for the neighborhood where he grew up. The food echoes the multiregional snacks you might find on the capital city’s streets: A trio of tamales presents versions from Oaxaca (chicken and mole), Chapas (pork, fruit and nuts) and Veracruz (tilapia with guajillo salsa). Other preparations come straight from the chef’s family, including a secret-recipe ceviche.

  1. 372 Graham Ave, (between Conselyea St and Skillman Ave)
More info
3

Empellón Cocina

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Some chefs are like gastronomic Margaret Meads, quick studies in replicating the food of cultures far from their own. Stupak, a notorious tinkerer, is much more original. Everything here is designed for sharing, and a table cluttered with his most impressionistic fare feels Mexican only in the most cosmopolitan sense. Plus, the bar has one of the most comprehensive selections of mescal in New York.

  1. 105 First Ave, (between 6th and 7th Sts), 10003
Book online
4

Tehuitzingo Deli and Grocery

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

You won’t need Spanish skills to gobble down $2.50 carnitas (pork seasoned with garlic, thyme and oregano and cooked in lard) and garlicky, lime-marinated beef tacos at this tiny, fast-paced Mexican bodega. Just repeat the following—“Quiero una carnita y un taco de carne”—and get out of the way. If you’re feeling ritzy, the pricier tongue version—taco de la lengüeta—comes in at $2.50.

  1. 695 Tenth Ave, (between 47th and 48th Sts)
More info
5

Tulcingo Del Valle Restaurant & Deli

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The staffers behind the little counter are mole artists, rewarding devotees with authentic, complex versions of the sauce, and other rich offerings from the southern Mexican state of Puebla. You can order take-out or sit down in the no-frills seating area next door. Either way, there’s room to gather a group of friends, bring a few beers in brown bags, and eat yourselves silly on some of the city’s best Pueblan food. Even standbys like pork al pastor are rendered with love, marinated in smoky chilies, cumin and cinnamon: Served on warm, soft tortillas, the roasted meat is accented by flecks of cilantro and onion and a generous dollop of creamy guacamole.

  1. 665 Tenth Ave, (between 46th and 47th Sts), 10036-29
More info
6

La Lucha NYC

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Depending on your tolerance for kitsch, you’ll find this tiny East Village taqueria either charming or trashy. Mexican wrestling is the theme: Lucha libre movies are projected on the wall, and wrestling imagery appears everywhere, including the menu (rendering it almost impossible to read). Squint your way through it and you’ll find a lineup of unexpectedly authentic—if slightly junky—Mexican tacos. We liked the sweet, soft-braised carnitas and the “el santo,” made with salted steak, fried pork and chorizo. Dessert brought another pleasant surprise: fried plantains in sweet cream.

  1. 147 Ave A, (between 9th and 10th Sts)
More info
7

Mercadito

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This slim, urban beach shack shrouded in bamboo thatch with a chef-owner inside the open kitchen serves some of the city’s most consistently satisfying Mexican food. The portions are designed to be small, with miniature tacos and tostados bursting with original flavors.

  1. 179 Ave B, (between 11th and 12th Sts)
More info
8

Taqueria Coatzingo

Fresh, meaty tacos—think al pastor, slow-roasted goat and tongue—give Coatzingo an edge over the other tempting holes-in-the-wall under the 7 train track. We like the birria de res taco, made with beef simmered for three hours with dried guajillo peppers and avocado leaf. The spicy stew is finished with a sprinkling of cilantro, onion and guacamole on a double layer of corn tortillas, which can barely contain the filling’s savory juices. 

  1. 76-05 Roosevelt Ave, (between 76th and 77th Sts )
More info
9

Taco Mix

This East Harlem hole-in-the-wall may serve the city’s best al pastor tacos, sliced to order off a rotating spit crowned with a hunk of grilled pineapple. The tortilla-to-meat ratio is perfectly balanced.

  1. 234 E 116th St, (between Second and Third Aves), 10029
More info
10

Dos Toros

  • Price band: 1/4

Siblings Leo and Oliver Kremer left the Bay Area to teach New Yorkers a thing or two about Cal-Mex cuisine. Their tiny East Village storefront specializes in San Francisco–style burritos—California’s perversely swollen, pico de gallo–drenched wonders. Try one stuffed with rice and beans, along with your choice of protein: carne asada (meaty grilled flap steak), locally raised, brined and grilled chicken, or porky, slow-cooked carnitas. Though the burrito is the star, other menu items make for worthy detours: The griddled quesadilla is a crisp, compact parcel of meat, melted Jack cheese and vibrant guacamole.

  1. 137 Fourth Ave, (between 13th and 14th Sts)
More info


Users say

7 comments
paloms
paloms

Casa Enrique!!! Best authentic Mexican cuisine! They are located in Long Island city, Queens. Just ONE stop away from Grand Central Station on the 7 train. Their food and cocktails are amazing! A must try if you haven't yet!

5-48 49th Ave. Long Island City // Phone number (347) 448-6040

http://henrinyc.com/casa-enrique.html

Tara
Tara

If you're looking for Tex mex, Rodeo Bar is where it's at. Delicious and juicy burritos. great enchiladas too, although you have to go with the green sauce (the spicier one) to get the full experience.

Tara
Tara

If you're looking for tex mex, Rodeo Bar has the best and most consistent tex mex in the city. Their burritos are saucy, juicy and delicious. Enchiladas are great too, especially with the green sauce (the spicier one).

Henry
Henry

La Gringa has killrt burritos with plantains in them..

Vicente Fernandez
Vicente Fernandez

Having eaten at all but 2 of the above, unfortunately for New Yorkers prevailing wisdom still prevails. Although this list does provide some of the best that New York has to offer with Coatzingo and Mesa Coyoacan being my favorites out of the 10 for totally different reasons, both would be the expected average of it's type in Los Angeles. Not to say that every Mexican place in LA is great its just a suprise if its bad and it is the exact opposite for New York. Anyhow if there is great Mexican Food out here in New York it would be a welcome surprise.

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