Do you love Mexican food? We do too, and that's why we dedicate ourselves to finding the best places to enjoy Mexican cuisine in Miami. We've diligently scouted out the top eateries, and we've listened to our readers and their reviews of their favorite Mexican restaurants and compiled this list of lo mejor de lo mejor (that's the best of the best) to share with you all.
In this round-up, we share the places that get great buzz, like the gorgeously decorated Rosa Mexicano, and we showcase the ones that have proven themselves over time, like Taqueria El Mexicano, a Little Havana favorite that will instantly cause you to forget all the Cuban food that surrounds you.
Also on our list are places with late-night, cult-like followings, like the infamous Ernesto's Taco Shop, whose California Fries are the stuff of legend for some residents of the Magic City.
We also ventured into the top neighborhood to find authentic Mexican fare, all the way down south in Homestead, where taquerias are a dime a dozen. We picked out all-out winners like La Cruzada, which is known for its ambiance (including serenading mariachis), and La Quebradita, the only authentic Mexican joint that offers the convenience of a drive-thru window. That's all just a sample of what's to be found on our mouthwatering selection of Mexican favorites.
Bodega South Beach
Bodega is South Beach's newest taqueria bringing cheap eats and stiff drinks to locals and tourists alike. It's vibrant interior makes you hungry for those delicious pork belly tacos everyone's raving about. But it isn't just tacos. Try their Queso Frito con Salsa Ranchero for starters--it's their take on mozzarella sticks with a kick. Opt for a BBQ Carnitas Torta or maybe an Hongos Torta if you're vegetarian--torta being a Mexican-style sandwich that is hearty and delicious always. Check out their daily specials, ranging from Mahi Ceviche to Huevos Rancheros Tacos. Oh, and if you get thirsty, step through the blue door and find yourself inside the speakeasy for plenty of tequila-infused cocktails and good times! (305-704-2145)
Salsa Fiesta Grill
Presenting a contemporary spin on typical Mexican fare, this eatery places a premium on the freshness of their ingredients and the delectable quality of each dish. Salsa Fiesta is closer to fast-casual chains like Qdoba and Lime than they are to a traditional taqueria, but with a much more varied menu. Guests can enjoy delightful plates like their Acapulco salad (with fluffy tostones), the Pepito Torta (with steak, rajas, chipotle beans, cheese, chimichurri and arugula), or a bowl of their Hot Tamale dip. If you're looking for fresh takes on classic Mexican dishes, this is the spot for you. Salsa Fiesta began as a Mexican concept restaurant in Venezuela and now has several locations across South Florida. (305-400-8245, 305-400-8390)
A culinary icon in New York City, this high-end restaurant was imported to Miami to the applause of locals and vacationers alike. The entire dining experience is meant to recreate a sub-tropical paradise, from the atmosphere (dominated by a dazzling 15-foot waterfall) to delectable dishes like their signature guacamole, each batch made fresh at the table upon ordering. All cocktails are creative and delicious, but the true must-have is the pomegranate margarita. Guest favorites include the mole poblano, the tampiquena de carne asada, and the fajitas arrachera. Vegetarians and gluten-free folk will be happy to order from special menus, available on request. (786-425-1001)
Taqueria Viva Mexico
When you're craving a good taco without the frills, Taqueria Viva Mexico is where you want to be. Like a true taqueria, this place serves a variety of soft tortilla tacos, straight up meats sans toppings. Most of the options are some form of pork, including lengua (tongue), oreja (ear), buche (stomach), cuerito (skin), maciza (leg), plus bistek (steak) and pollo (chicken) and a few other random specials. Tacos here are just $2 a pop, and make sure to bring cash to make your transaction swift (since otherwise you'll get turned away). Hit their salsa and toppings bar once you've got your tacos in hand to complete the deliciousness. They've also got fresh and delicious guacamole for $5, which is pretty standard, but they're served with chicharrones (pork rinds) rather than tortilla chips, so vegetarians will really want to eat elsewhere. ((786) 350-6360)
El Rancho Grande
This tasteful Mexican cafe in West Kendall foregoes the typical trappings of Mexican eateries, such as bright colors and sombreros, and instead takes a more contemporary, toned-down approach. Pastel colors, interesting art and coveted outdoor patio seats make this a perfect choice for a casually upscale lunch. Classic dishes include well-spiced black bean soup, zesty chili verde, and cheesy enchilada con queso in green sauce. This is a favorite among friendly locals as well as big names like Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. Though the ambience is relaxed during lunch, the lively bar heats things up in the evening. Happy Hour here is especially fantastic. (305-673-0480)
Authentic Mexican food can be difficult to find in Miami. But in Homestead, Mexican restaurants are a dime a dozen, and few compare to La Quebradita. The main attraction to La Quebradita is, of course, their drive-thru window. Nowhere else in Miami can you get fast service and delicious, high-quality Mexican cuisine while in the comfort of your car. But that shouldn't stop you from going in and enjoying the ambiance, which is equally fantastic. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you'll find all that you're looking for on their extensive menu. Sample items include chilaquiles, posole, burritos, plus tacos with fillings that range from carnitas and barbacoa, to pollo and chorizo, for just $2.25 a pop. There's a reason they've been in business for 20 years and don't appear to be going anywhere. (305-245-4586)
Miamians know that all the best Mexican food is in Homestead, and among the top choices down south is a little place called Taqueria Morelia. This taqueria serves up some of the tastiest tacos and quite possibly the best burrito al pastor in all Miami-Dade. The service is excellent, the restaurant is neat and festive, and the menu options plentiful. Come for breakfast and order a plate of Huevos a la Mexicana (scrambled eggs with tomato, onion, and jalapeno) or jump into lunch with a torta (Mexican-style sandwich--think burrito but instead it comes on extra-fluffy bread). Vegetarians will want to order the chile relleno (a cheese-stuffed poblano pepper with rice and beans on the side) or the enchiladas (but don't expect stringy cheese, as they use cotija cheese here exclusively). Order a horchata or a michelada if there's a soccer (er-futbol) game on the TV and you're good to go. (305-247-0877)
Ernesto's Mexican Taco Shop
If you're searching for a Mexican restaurant offering incredibly flexible hours, affordable prices and terrific on-the-go options, drop by Ernesto's. Located in the heart of Kendall (with an additional location in Country Walk), this fantastic Mexican spot features authentic dishes like carne assada and of course all the classics including chimichangas, burritos, and taquitos. It's the perfect place to satisfy late-night cravings or dine alfresco at a sidewalk table on a beautiful Miami afternoon. Many a drunken night have started and ended well at Ernesto's. The next time you're considering a quick trip to the Taco Bell drive-thru, do yourself a favor and choose Ernesto's instead. (305-412-7250)
Taqueria El Mexicano
This Mexican restaurant combines traditional, tasty favorites with innovative dishes, and it's all served up in a fun environment that is ideal for celebrations, families or festive crowds. The decor isn't fussy or upscale, but provides just the right measure of colorful points of interest, including toys and posters from Mexico. Lots of locals from Mexico come here to feast on excellent guacamole and flavorful quesadillas that put more common Americanized versions to shame. The menu is extensive, with dishes ranging from burritos to pork chops, and everything is fresh and generously spiced – though mild versions are available upon request. (305-858-1160)
When you find yourself wandering around Homestead in search of authentic Mexican fare, you'd be foolish not eat at La Cruzada. Walk inside and you'll find one area with hot, prepared foods, or else one of the servers (all women, all dressed in traditional Mexican clothing) will gladly seat you (inside or outside). The walls are decorated with bright paintings of Mexican life, maps of Mexico, acoustic guitars and straw hats, while each table is lined with a beautiful Mexican serapes, providing a colorful backdrop for your meal. The food here is incredible, with everything from tortas to tacos, enchiladas to sopes. A variety of salsas are served with every meal, and you want to order yourself a horchata if you don't do well with spicy foods--delicious cinnamon rice milk to sooth any heat. Or order a michelada to wind down for the day. (305-242-6240)
About Priscilla Blossom
Pris Blossom is a freelance writer and feminist mama with a love for travel, writing, music, film, craft beer, yoga, museums, cultural anthropology, and her awesome kid.
She spent the bulk of the past decade taking trips on a whim, falling in love with and in such places as New York City, New Orleans, and a large portion of Nicaragua.
In 2011, she took off on her own and traveled around the U.S. via bus, bunking with strangers thanks to the power of CouchSurfing. She is currently writing a novel about this.
Read her words at PrisBlossom.com.
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