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The 17 best Mexican restaurants in NYC

From tacos to Tex-Mex, satisfy your South of the Border cravings at the best Mexican restaurants NYC has to offer

Tlayuda con chapulines at The Black Ant
Photograph: Filip Wolak
By Bao Ong and Time Out contributors |
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New York's Mexican restaurant scene is slowly but surely catching up with our West Coast rivals. Consider this list of the city’s best taco-, burrito- and guacamole-slinging establishments to be our convincing retort. From trumped-up South of the Border imports to homegrown cheap eats joints, these are the best Mexican restaurants NYC has to offer.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Best Mexican restaurants in NYC

1
<p>Ranchero eggs hoja santa at Atla</p>
Restaurants, Mexican

Atla

icon-location-pin East Village

This Cosme spinoff from the same team is more casual than that Flatiron megahit and spotlights healthy Mexican and Central American fare: white ayocote hummus, an arctic char tostada and meatballs made with farro and quail eggs. There’s also a strong emphasis on drinks—diners can begin the day with café con leche and end with agave-leaning cocktails by beverage director Yana Volfson. Taking cues from the all-day restaurants of Mexico City, the 60-seat space features sleek black and oakwood furniture, a white terrazzo tiled bar and verdant vegetation lining the walls. 

2
Barbacoa de Cabra at Claro
Photograph: Courtesy Claro
Restaurants, Mexican

Claro

icon-location-pin Gowanus

Oaxacan plates are served in a sunny back patio in Gowanus, with tortillas made in-house. 

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3
Photograph: Teddy Wolff
Restaurants, Mexican

Alta Calidad - Time Out Market

icon-location-pin DUMBO

Alta Calidad’s chef-owner Akhtar Nawab brings New York City’s melting-pot sensibility to Mexican cuisine. Drawing on his Indian heritage, Nawab marries the flavors of multiple flags to create exciting new dishes like chicken tinga tacos as well as chorizo verde and egg roti. He proves that fusion cuisine, done without any gimmicky bells, whistles and cloyingly saccharine sauces of yesteryear, is having another moment, right here and now at Time Out Market. Simply put: Nawab’s food is modern, internationally inspired and altogether authentic to his unique New York story. MENU:  Tacos (two per order) - $13homemade tortillas with onions and cilantro  Steak barbacoa + chipotle  Chicken tinga + avocado  Crispy shrimp + chorizo dust + crema TQ Roti (12 inches) - $16sliced flatbread with bread with black beans, poblano. salsa, onions and cilantro  Carnitas + pickled vegetables  Charred mushroom + queso fresco Crispy queso + avocado Chorizo verde + eggs  Sandwich  Muffuletta Mexicano with fried chicken, jamón, pickled jalapeños, avo aioli  Special (two items) Spit-roasted, meat, guajillo, charred onions El Jefe Torta with avocado, black beans, queso fresco, pickled onions

4
Oxomoco
Photograph: Courtesy Oxomoco
Restaurants, Mexican

Oxomoco

icon-location-pin Greenpoint

The chef behind pizza-pushing Speedy Romeo is using his same wood-fired tactics in this follow-up restaurant. The Greenpoint Mexican spot serves inventive small plates, entrées, and elevated tacos filled with pork-cheek carnitas, vegan beet “chorizo” and masa tempura softshell crab.

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5
casa enrique
Restaurants, Mexican

Casa Enrique

icon-location-pin Long Island City

The owners of Bar Henry branch out to Queens with this 40-seat Mexican eatery, specializing in the regional cuisine of Cintalapa, Chiapas. Brothers Cosme and Luis Aguilar, the chef and GM respectively, pay homage to their late mother with traditional plates, including some based on her recipes, such as chicken mole and cochinito chiapaneco (guajillo-marinated baby pork ribs). The white-painted spot features a garden and works from Queens artists.

6
Adobada taco at Los Tacos No 1
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Restaurants, Mexican

Los Tacos No.1

icon-location-pin Chelsea North

Small, from-scratch corn tortillas puff up on the grill like blowfish at this West Coaster–approved Chelsea Market taco counter, easing down before they’re piled with superbly juicy adobada pork: The red-chili-marinated pig is trimmed shawarma-style from a glistening spit, its natural sweetness jacked up with shards of pineapple and a squirt of lime.

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7
Tacos (CW from top): tripe, al pastor, steak, chicken
Restaurants, Mexican

Empellón al Pastor

icon-location-pin East Village

Inside the boisterous graffiti-tagged room—clinging to the grit of its ’80s incarnation, punk haunt Alcatraz—servers move tacos from the ordering counter to the self-seat tables with a speed that would impress a track-and-field coach. Alex Stupak's tacos are unfussy, served on paper plates with sides that come in takeout containers. The tortillas—made from Indiana corn that’s nixtamalized (the grains are cooked in limewater and hulled) and pressed in-house daily—are thin and springy, with a delicate maize sweetness.

8
COSME duck tacos for two
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Mexican

Cosme

icon-location-pin Flatiron

Enrique Olvera’s elegant high-gear small plates—pristine, pricey and market-fresh—more than fills that gap in New York dining. It steamrolls right over it. Tacos make a solitary appearance on the menu, in an atypically generous portion of duck carnitas. But Olvera’s single-corn tortillas pop up frequently, from a complimentary starter of crackly blue-corn tortillas with chile-kicked pumpkin-seed butter to dense, crispy tostadas dabbed with bone-marrow salsa and creamy tongues of uni.

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9
Al Pastor taco at Tortilleria NixtamalSome of the best Mexican restaurants in town use the tortillas made at this factory. Go straight to the source...
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Mexican

Tortilleria Nixtamal

icon-location-pin Corona

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.

10
Restaurants, Mexican

Mesa Coyoacan

icon-location-pin Williamsburg

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 Oaxaqueño (chicken and mole), Chiapaneco (pork, fruit and nuts) and Veracruzano (tilapia with guajillo salsa). Other preparations come straight from the chef’s family, including a secret-recipe ceviche.

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