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The Painted Burro
Photograph: Courtesy The Painted Burro The Painted Burro

The best Mexican restaurants in Boston you need to try

Looking for the best Mexican restaurants Boston has to offer? Here’s where to dig into burritos, tacos and more.

By Eric Grossman and Time Out Boston Staff
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Boston has never been a top destination for Mexican food, but there are some standouts that have changed locals’ perceptions of Mexican cuisine. There are great restaurants in Cambridge serving fresh, homestyle Mexican fare, while the North End is home to a casual eatery famous for its tortas. If tacos are your preferred Mexican dish, check out our list of the best tacos in Boston. Whether you’re looking for a street food snack or a blow-out evening with margaritas and entrees, the city’s best Mexican options offer something for everyone.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

Best Mexican restaurants in Boston

El Pelon
Photograph: Courtesy El Pelon

1. El Pelón Taqueria

Restaurants Mexican Fenway/Kenmore

El Pelón Taqueria has been a Fenway mainstay for years. The small, cheerful space gets jammed before Red Sox games as fans seek a quick bite or a to-go order to take into the park (yes, you can bring your own). Loyal customers tend to stick to the basics, from fried plantains to the house tacos, including a terrific, cornmeal-crusted fish.

Tenoch
Photograph: Courtesy Tenoch

2. Tenoch

Restaurants Mexican North End

Amongst a slew of Italian red sauce joints in the North End, Tenoch dishes out excellent tortas, 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. Tacos, quesadillas and burritos are all here too, along with Mexican sodas for the full authentic experience.

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Villa Mexico Café
Photograph: Aram Boghosian

3. Villa Mexico Café

Restaurants Mexican Downtown

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.

Taqueria Jalisco
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Mika S.

4. Taqueria Jalisco

Restaurants Mexican East Boston

This tiny, family-owned space in Eastie’s Day Square is both authentic and inexpensive, a boon to real taco fans. Soft corn tortillas are stuffed with shredded beef, chicken, adobo pork, beef tongue or cheek. Homemade salsa and refreshing aguas frescas complete the authentic offerings.

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Casa Romero
Photograph: Courtesy Casa Romero

5. Casa Romero

Restaurants Mexican Back Bay

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 Painted Burro
Photograph: Courtesy The Painted Burro

6. The Painted Burro

Restaurants Mexican Somerville

You'll find upscale Mexican at this stylish Davis Square spot. Think duck carnitas enchiladas rather than the traditional pork version, or a BLT or roasted beet taco. Or stick with something street-style like the hot dog torta, topped with chipotle ketchup and agave mustard.

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Lolita Cocina and Tequila Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Leng L.

7. Lolita Cocina and Tequila Bar

Restaurants Mexican Back Bay

Lolita Cocina offers tasty Mexican with a side of nightlife. This Back Bay hot spot is popular amongst young professionals with a taste for tequila. The menu features Mexican fusion entrées like fresno salmon, garlic-lime chicken, and fried chicken tacos. The late-night menu is surprisingly robust, with specials like nachos that include smoked bacon.

Lone Star
Photograph: Courtesy Lone Star/Jennifer Trebino

8. Lone Star Taco Bar

Restaurants Mexican Allston/Brighton

Lone Star caters to the young and hip of Allston, with a cool vibe and plenty cheap but tasty eats. Grilled street corn, refried bean tostadas and huevos rancheros are popular offerings. The hand-made masa harina corn tortillas enhance the tacos; slow-cooked pork carnitas and mesquite-smoked beef barbacoa are favorites. The upscale bar gets bonus points for the solid tequila and mezcal lists.

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Naco Taco
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Cristina R.

9. Naco Taco

Restaurants Mexican Central Sq

This spirited Central Square spot has a limited menu—tacos or tortas—but any choice is a winner. There are plenty of sharing options like beans, salsa, or guac and chips, plus some interesting main choices. Try a beef tongue taco with fried plaintains or a pig’s head torta with a Negra Modelo. Come summer, the 100-seat patio is the place to be.

El Centro
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Danielle T

10. El Centro

Restaurants Mexican South End

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).

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Loco Taqueria and Oyster Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Cliff H.

11. Loco Taqueria and Oyster Bar

Restaurants Mexican South Boston

Tacos and oysters on the same menu? Yes, it works at this Southie spot. The tacos are on the modern end of the spectrum, with varieties including 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.

Sol Azteca
Photograph: Courtesy Sol Azteca

12. Sol Azteca

One of Boston's original Mexican restaurants, Sol Azteca (914 Beacon St) sits right on the Brookline-Boston border, near the St. Mary's T stop. Friendly servers patrol the colorful environs, and when the weather's nice patrons spill out onto the sidewalk. Traditional dishes (camarones tampiquenos or the puerco en adobo) jockey for attention with lots of vegetarian options, award-winning sangria, fruit-flavored margs and more.

See the best Mexican restaurants in America

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