Go Way Beyond Nachos at Las Vegas' 10 Best Mexican Restaurants

Photo courtesy of Border Grill
By Terrisa Meeks, Las Vegas Local Expert

Las Vegas has a wide assortment of Mexican restaurants, with many places featuring food inspired by the cuisine in Northern Mexico and Baja. “Authentic” Mexican food comes in a few incarnations in Vegas, from well-loved, traditional dishes to modern interpretations and new creations.

A number of Las Vegas’ Mexican restaurants are casual and family-friendly. Diners will find menus with an abundance of tacos, enchiladas, burritos and combination dishes, not to mention great beer, tequila, and Margaritas. At Border Grill, these classics have been given a twist, and expanded with flavors you won’t find elsewhere.

Family and regional recipes are popular at many Mexican restaurants. Local favorites like Lindo Michoacan have a dedicated following for those unique, memorable dishes. One taste of the food, and it’s easy to understand why. A short drive off the Strip will lead you to several local, family-owned favorites. Aficionados who are sticklers for authentic flavors will find some gems.

No Mexican restaurant is complete without a solid selection of tequilas, and connoisseurs will find plenty of restaurants offering an tantalizing array to choose from. Margaritas, flights of tequila, and mescal are commonly found at Las Vegas’ Mexican restaurants.

You can order chips and salsa at many Strip hotels, but with a little searching you’ll find a place that earns a spot on your go-to list. For more suggestions, check out our list of Las Vegas’ best Mexican restaurants.

10. Juan's Flaming Fajitas
Photo courtesy of Juan's Flaming Fajitas

The name says a lot at Juan's Flaming Fajitas, where heaping plates of fajitas are delivered in little cast-iron containers that get set on fire with a flourish right before delivery to your table. This family-friendly restaurant in southwest Las Vegas serves up a menu full of Mexican favorites with all of the accompanying sides. The two-person fajitas come in such a generous serving size that you'll almost certainly need a take-home box. Other menu selections include traditional combination plates, house favorites like steak picado and carne asada, Jalisco style plates and vegetarian specialties. Enchiladas, burritos, tacos and chimichangas each come in several styles. Juan's also has a full bar, including a tasty house Margarita.

9. Casa Don Juan
Photo courtesy of Casa Don Juan

Casa Don Juan has been a fixture along Main Street in Las Vegas for many years, and with the growth of the 18B Arts District and the vintage shops along Main Street, it continues to make new fans. Traditional Mexican food is served in simply gigantic proportions here. Come hungry if you want to have any hope of making your way through any of the combination plates. Carnitas for two, burritos, menudo, fajitas, tortas, tamales and tacos with al pastor, lengua, asada, carnitas, or chicken are just some of the dishes available. A selection of Mexican and American breakfast plates are also offered. The casual, rustic interior design prominently features a Frida Kahlo theme, and the comfortable dining area is definitely family-friendly.

8. Salud Mexican Bistro and Tequileria
Photo courtesy of Salud Mexican Bistro

Salud Mexican Bistro and Tequileria offers diners its own interpretation of Mexican food. While you will find combination plates, burritos and tacos, it would be a shame not to venture out of your comfort zone here. The menu is full of tempting creations like Duck Carnitas, with red wine citrus braised duck, crackling, berry jalapeno chutney, cilantro rice and black beans. The vegetarian Gnocchi Mexicano is house-made gnocchi with guajillo mushroom cream sauce queso fresco. Their sirloin is rubbed with ancho chile and finished with cilantro butter, roasted corn puree and charro beans. Of course, as the restaurant's name implies, their selection of tequila is not to be missed. Plenty of Margaritas are offered as well as tequila-based cocktails and flights of top-shelf tequila. The atmosphere is casual and modern, and Salud's location away from the Strip means guests can expect more reasonable prices and smaller crowds.

7. Tacos El Gordo
Photo courtesy of Tacos el Gordo

When Tacos el Gordo location on the Strip re-opened, devoted fans of this restaurant were delighted. There's nothing fancy here–it's a walk-up counter where you order and pick up at the same place–but the tacos are worth it. Sure, you can order the usual carne asada, but you can also get tripe (tripa), tongue (lengua), or beef and cactus on the Azteca taco. Mulas and sopes are also served. Tacos el Gordo in Southern California earned a dedicated group of followers, and in Las Vegas, it's been the same. If you're not on the Strip, there's a location in North Las Vegas and an East Charleston outpost that's close to the Strip and Downtown, making it easy to find a Tacos el Gordo whenever you're in need of tacos.

6. Lindo Michoacan
Photo courtesy of Lindo Michoacan

Lindo Michoacan's food comes in generous portions and is served in an adorably designed area full of authentic décor. The original location on East Desert Inn is known as a favorite stop for locals and tourists. The original owner learned to cook while studying at a seminary in Michoacan, Mexico, and brought those dishes to the restaurant. The menu is broken out by seafood, pork, beef, and chicken dishes. Within each of those categories, you'll find several Lindo-only specialties, like the Toro a la Coca-Cola, a dish made with a family recipe and the popular soda pop. In addition to the large selections of unique recipes, there's also great selection of combination plates and lunch specials. It's a fun, casual atmosphere that's suitable for families.

5. El Dorado Cantina
Photo courtesy of El Dorado Cantina Las Vegas

Located a few blocks west of the Strip, the El Dorado Cantina is a family-owned Mexican restaurant with an authentic touch, inspired by several regions of Mexico. There's a large selection of street tacos–carne asada, carnitas, al pastor, cochinita, pulled chicken, and vegetarian corn rajas tacos, three to a platter with cilantro rice and refried or black beans. The extensive menu has plenty of other selections as well, including burgers made with grass-fed beef. The restaurant uses food that's free from antibiotics, pesticides, and steroids– and lists its food suppliers its website. It's a popular place for locals, including some of Las Vegas' resident celebrities. Don't be surprised by El Dorado's location--it's right next door to a gentlemen's club, which are common in the areas right off the Las Vegas Strip.

4. Hussong's Cantina - Mandalay Bay
Photo courtesy of Hussong's Cantina Las Vegas in The Shops at Mandalay Bay

Hussong's Cantina at Mandalay Bay almost feels like you're on Spring Break: live music, plenty of great beer and some terrific food. It's a casual, easy-going atmosphere with dishes like tacos, fajitas, carne asada, flautas, burritos and chimichangas. One of the most interesting things about Hussong's is its history. This location was the first franchise of the original Hussong's Cantina, which was established in 1892 in Baja, Mexico–the same place that bills itself as the place where the Margarita was invented. Naturally, this means that Hussong's Las Vegas has a selection of specialty Margaritas, like the Cadillac Margarita (Casamigos Reposado and Grand Marnier), or the Blackberry Splash Margarita, with freshly muddled blackberries and ginger liqueur.

3. Canonita
Photo courtesy of ayesamson

Canonita is one of the restaurants at The Venetian's Grand Canal Shoppes with a great location right on the Grand Canal, giving diners a wonderful place to enjoy a unique view. The dishes include traditional Mexican favorites like enchiladas, burritos and tacos. If you'd like to eat lightly, you'll find a wealth of tasty antojitos, like shrimp and calamari cocktail, flautas or an ahi tuna tostada. Bring your appetite to enjoy entrees like the Santa Rosa Barbacoa, pork rubbed with guajillo chile, served in a banana leaf with chipotle barbecue sauce, rice, beans and corn tortillas. The full bar is well-stocked with tequilas, just as you'd expect from a good Mexican restaurant. Canonita is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ask for a seat on the patio that overlooks the canal, and you can watch the gondolas and listen to the gondoliers serenading their passengers.

2. Javier's
Photo courtesy of Javier's at Aria

Javier's is originally from Southern California, and its food reflects that influence. The decor is striking here, with a distinctive Latin flair. Located directly off Aria's casino, Javier's candle-lit atmosphere feels miles away from the slot machines. The menu includes Mexican specialties, including the standard combination offerings, plus several steak dishes. Diners will find ceviche, antojitos, as well as house specialties like steak picado and chile verde. As you might expect, Javier's has an impressive tequila selection, carrying many varieties of silver, reposado and anejo. The large selection of unique and delicious hand shaken Margaritas are served on the rocks, and one of the most popular is the jalapeno Margarita.

1. Border Grill
Photo courtesy of Border Grill

Celebrity Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger give Mexican food a few new twists at Border Grill. You'll certainly find standards like tacos and enchiladas, but most dishes have a bit of a twist to them. For instance, the lunch menu's Chile Relleno Burger is made with high quality beef, a roasted poblano stuffed with Mexican cheeses, tomato, baby gem, chipotle aioli and telera bread. At dinner, the Yucatan Pork is a tasty preparation of achiote pork roasted in banana leaves. There's an definite emphasis on sustainability here with organic black beans and humane certified, antibiotic and hormone free meats and poultry. The drink menu includes Margaritas, mojitos and a selection of tasty-sounding cocktails from tequila and mezcal, along with plenty of other choices. The vibrantly decorated restaurant overlooks Mandalay Bay's pool area, and its colorful ambiance lends itself to casual meals.