Best Mexican restaurants in Boston
El Pelón Taqueria has been a Fenway mainstay for years. The small, cheerful space gets jammed before Red Sox games - remember, you can bring food into Fenway, though your neighbors won't enjoy watching you devour a giant burrito during the game. Loyal customers tend to stick to the basics, from fried plantains to the house tacos, including a terrific, cornmeal-crusted fish varietal.
It’s all about the tortas here, the traditional Mexican pressed sandwich made with Telera (similar to a French roll). The sandwich’s meat or vegetarian base is generously topped with Oaxaca cheese, chipotle mayo, onions, avocado and tomatoes. Rest assured that the requisite tacos, quesadillas and burritos are all here too, along with Mexican sodas for the full authentic experience.
Some of the city’s best Mexican food was once served out of a Beacon Hill gas station. Julie King gained a huge cult following for her tamales, flautas, and grilled burritos. After the gas station closed in 2013, King secured a permanent space downtown from which to care for her devotees. No fish tacos or other Americanized dishes here, just the classics, all prepared in traditional Mexican fashion and made to order.
This Back Bay mainstay has hosted thousands of dinner dates in its cozy environs, filled with bold-colored walls and tiled tables. The signature puerco adobado en chipotle y naranja—tenderloin of pork marinated in oranges, tamarind and smoked chipotle peppers—and a tangy margarita is good place to start. In the summer, the serene back patio, decked with hanging plants, is an intimate retreat.
The family-owned space in Eastie’s Day Square could generously be described as compact, but no one cares thanks to the inexpensive, authentic tacos on offer. Soft corn tortillas are stuffed with shredded beef, chicken, adobo pork, beef tongue or cheek. Lovers of Mexican fare enjoy the homemade salsa and refreshing aguas frescas.
Lone Star attracts hordes of Allston students happy for $4 tacos and a plethora of under-$10 accompaniments: grilled street corn, refried bean tostadas and huevos rancheros. The hand-made masa harina corn tortillas make a difference, as does the slow-cooked pork carnitas and mesquite-smoked beef barbacoa. The upscale bar gets bonus points for the solid tequila and mezcal lists.
Davis Square crowds enjoy upscale Mexican in style; why have pork carnitas enchiladas when you can try the duck carnitas version instead? Craving a new kind of taco? Give the BLT or roasted beet options a try. Then there’s the street-style hot dog torta, topped with chipotle ketchup and agave mustard.
El Centro splits the difference between higher-end sit-down and nondescript takeaway joint. The cozy, brightly colored space lets you indulge in eavesdropping and a few well-made margaritas, but the food is straightforward and crowd-pleasing: freshly made guac (topped with chorizo if you so desire), chimichangas, chicken mole and no less than 10 different tacos (fish, chicken, steak, carne asada).
Want a little nightlife with your chips and salsa? Lolita Cocina is a Back Bay hot spot swimming in tequila and unbuttoned, young(ish) professionals. You can opt for a proper entrée (fresno salmon, garlic lime chicken), but why bother when fried chicken tacos are on the menu? The light-night menu is surprisingly robust, with special nachos that include smoked bacon.
Tacos and oysters on the same menu? Southie’s Loco just wants to make you happy. The tacos are decidedly new-wave; varieties include blackened swordfish, buffalo chicken, and crispy calamari (served on a black tortilla). Purists may balk at appetizers like crab guacamole or or Maine mussels in a spicy rosé broth, but it’s nothing a few coconut margaritas can’t fix.
The name is fun, the space is high-spirited and the menu cuts to the chase. Your order basically comes down to this: tacos or tortas? These are no safe offerings though. Want a beef tongue taco to accompany your fried plantains? How about a pig’s head torta to go with your Negra Modelo? Come summer, the 100-seat patio is the place to be.
See the best Mexican restaurants in America
Our guide to the best Mexican restaurants in America for authentic Mexican food, great Tex Mex, amazing tacos and more