Best Mexican restaurants in Miami
What is it? Ranked as one of Miami’s best restaurants, Cantina is the ultimate Mexican spot in the city—serving authentic eats in a beautifully decked space.
Why go? The margaritas are stellar and the live mariachi band makes for a good time but the real reason you trecked to Cantina is chef Santiago Gomez’s food. Catch him in the open kitchen toiling away at the tortilla machine (yep, they make their own) and whipping up all kinds of regional dishes, including some topped with chapulines—better known as grasshoppers.
What is it? This adorable, beachside cafe sits in the basement of the Stanton Hotel. Every inch of the space has chef/owner Richard Ampudia's mark, from the kitschy wall art and traditional cantina decor to the menu's (mostly) healthy spin on Mexican street food.
Why go? For delicious Mexican food that's flavorful and hearty but won't settle like a bomb went off in your stomach, check out Lolo's. New additions to the menu include of-the-moment proteins like cauliflower—stuffed in tacos or served over nachos—a delicious kale salad and plenty of seafood options, from shrimp and fish to poké.
What is it? This low-key neighborhood spot is the reason you go to Little Havana for Mexican food, not Cuban. The bare-bones dining room stays busy thanks to Rinconcito’s cheap, tasty eats.
Why go? The heaping portions of delicious Mexican food served here are not just a bargain (you can easily feed a family of four for $20) but they’re also really tasty. The chorizo queso fundido, which comes bubbling to your table, is a cheesy, meet-filled dream of a starter. Mains are generous and recommended for sharing, especially the sizzling fajitas (chicken, steak, etc.) that you wrap yourself and the salad—which packs enough romaine to fill a garden.
What is it? Don’t judge this place based on looks: It’s small, seemingly suspicious and with zero ambiance. Beneath its less-than-appealing exterior is a solid Mexican restaurant.
Why go? Those who’ve been have nothing but praise for its authentic food, friendly service and cheap drinks. Margaritas and Coronas won’t set you back here like in other places, and neither will the giant quesadillas and burritos you’re better off sharing. Jacalito’s chilaquiles, available with red or green sauce and topped with steak, are the best in the city.
What is it? From the Ortiz family, who pioneered authentic Mexican cuisine in South Beach with neighborhood favorite El Rancho Grande, comes Sunset Harbour’s Tequiztlan Tequileria and Cocina Mexicana.
Why go? Good food and good booze. Much like its predecessor (Tequiztlan is an evolved, more refined version of El Rancho) the restaurant serves true Mexican cooking, only this time paired with a variety of top-shelf tequilas and mescals.
What is it? Cantina La Veinte’s mercado-style spinoff goes beyond tacos with an exhaustive menu of shareable plates—from ceviches and an array of tostadas to quesadillas and veggie sides.
Why go? There are so many types of tacos to choose from, so order a bunch because you’ll want to sample as many as possible, especially the asado steak served rolled up in a shot glass and the blackened fish tacos on blue corn tortillas. Make sure to save room for dessert, especially the ice cream sandwiches and rice pudding.
What is it? Talavera Cocina Mexicana, named after Puebla’s artisanal pottery, serves regional specialties from all over Mexico, including Sonora and Oaxaca, well known for its varieties of mole sauce, four of which diners will find on the menu.
Why go? Talavera’s daily specials are the way to go if you’re interested in trying something different, as each day brings a new dish inspired by a different Mexican state. Happy hour is a bargain, featuring $5 margs and $3 appetizers.
What is it? One of the first restaurants to move into the arty district, Coyo continually draws crowds with its tasty and affordable Mexican street food.
Why go? This is the place to go in Wynwood for freshly made guac and nontraditional tacos, like quinoa or crispy duck. Be sure to check out the secret bar out back, especially during peak dinner hours, when lines wrap around the block and you need to drink to hold you over.
What is it? Big portions and a bustling environment about sums up the experience at TacoCraft in South Miami, an indoor/outdoor restaurant with sidewalk seating and a hidden bar in the back.
Why go? Decent tacos and oversize portions of shareable plates make this a safe bet for a cheap night out. If you're really hungry, order the short rib nachos. This heaping pile of tortilla chips, meat, cheese and guacamole will keep you from getting too drunk on margaritas or craft beers, of which the restaurant has an extensive assortment.
What is it? Unless you live in Homestead, there are few reasons to venture so far south other than for incredible, inexpensive, authentic Mexican food. If you do happen to make the trek, Casita Tejas is where you go for dishes that meet all three criteria.
Why go? One bite of the signature items and you’ll forget you burned a tank of gas to eat here. Try the sauce-smothered enchiladas, chimichangas with various types of fillings and chile relleno—a stuffed bell pepper with intense flavors and a spicy kick. No order here would be complete without a side of refried beans—the standout of all meals eaten at Casita—or a helping of their fresh salsa made with Homestead tomatoes.
What is it? Paquito is yet another surprising strip-mall find. And once you do it discover it, there’s no going back.
Why go? Although the dining room feels like something out of a Frida Kahlo memoir—colorful walls plastered with knickknacks and ornaments—the menu reads mostly like a collection of present-day favorites, like burritos and enchiladas. Peppered in with the ordinary you’ll find family recipes for mole, a signature sauce that takes hours to prepare when done right. Worth skipping over, however, is the list of burgers and fried chicken that undermines the otherwise traditional menu.