Best Mexican restaurants in Miami
Mexican doesn’t get the high-end treatment nearly as much as Japanese and Chinese cuisines do, but that’s all changing at Cantina La Veinte. Don your best stilettos or suit for dinner at this swanky, Brickell spot that’s hip and trendy rather than stuffy. You’ll shell out more than you’re used to at your neighborhood restaurant for guacamole and margaritas, but the variety you’ll find within both will make it well worth the extra bucks. Where else can you order Oaxacan house-made guacamole sprinkled with grasshoppers (chapulines)? Executive chef Santiago Gomez is the man behind the bold menu that takes diners through seldom-explored areas of Mexican gastronomy. His preparations of king crab tacos, duck breast confit and octopus sautéed in the style of pork carnitas are flawless and taste even better than the traditional dishes Americans are used to.
There’s a reason why the bare-bones dining room of this Little Havana restaurant is always packed—the food. 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. It should be noted that the nachos version of this dish is lighter, equally outstanding alternative. 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. There’s a small altar near the entrance that’s dedicated to La Virgen de Guadalupe, to whom we pray for the bounty Mi Rinconcito bestows on all its hungry diners.
Most people come upon Jacalito with a recommendation—the restaurant isn’t much of a looker nor is its Flagami location synonymous with authentic Mexican dining. But 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.
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. 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.
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 starchy sides. While the service at Tacology often misses the mark (servers are kind but not always attentive), the oversize margaritas make up for the long wait times—just don't expect to rush through your meal. Instead, pace yourself between sips of the spicy margarita (it's got a kick!) and linger over guacamole with pumpkin seeds and a crispy pork skin starter, which is served suspended by clothespins. As for the tacos, order a bunch. Most are small and so different from the next that 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. Finish off your meal with a sampler of ice cream sandwiches.
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. In addition to classic Mexican dishes (think enchiladas and chilaquiles), Talavera serves a daily special each inspired by a different Mexican state, such as Yucatán fish on Mondays and Veracruz seafood on Sundays. There’s also a Huarache grill that’s used for meats and fish served alongside handmade corn tortillas.
Salsa Fiesta’s Kendall outpost is the family-owned chain’s only location to have table service—giving diners a reason to visit this Mexican restaurant for more than just a quick lunch. Prices are the same as they would be during regular counter service (read: cheap) but the added convenience of ordering at your seat means you have more to choose from, like fish ceviche with mango and avocado, Mexican street corn and guacamole, which is made fresh to order and prepared tableside. The samples of chips and salsa typically next to the register move to the hostess stand come dinnertime too, so don’t worry about giving those up either.
This dining oasis flanked by tourist traps on Ocean Drive likely isn’t your first choice when deciding where to go for Mexican but it deserves to move up on the list. Make it past the busy sidewalk and find a seat toward the back of the patio restaurant, where the lights and beach breeze (and stiff margaritas) will trick you into thinking you’re actually somewhere in Acapulco instead of South Beach. In keeping with the seaside vibe is the variety of seafood options on the menu, like fish burritos and shrimp tacos. Pair these with one of their hand-made margaritas and churros for dessert and you’ve got yourself a proper Mexican feast.
This is the place to go in Wynwood for freshly made guac and nontraditional tacos, like quinoa or crispy duck. Though Mexican staples like street corn (served both on and off the cob) are worth a try here, too. 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.
Big portions and a bustling environment about sums up the experience at Tacocraft in South Miami. The tacos are pedestrian at best, but the flavorful oxtail empanadas satisfy the need for spicy handheld food. 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. Service is pretty exceptional—despite the large college crowds that descend upon the restaurant during happy hour and brunch (the University of Miami is less than a mile away).
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