Best Tex-Mex in Phoenix

10 Best Tex-Mex Restaurants in Phoenix: Where to Find Southwest-Inspired Eats

Tex-Mex is a popular regional cuisine known for its use of savory grilled meats, ground beef, and red and green chile. In Phoenix, where Sonoran-style Mexican food dominates, Tex-Mex treats such as fajitas and chile con carne still manage to fly off the menu as diners savor the slow-roasted flavors and zest of these traditional Southwestern dishes.

Over at Sierra Bonita Grill, you won't find kitschy decor on the walls, but you will find often-delicious Southwestern cuisine that captures the spirit of cowboy cooking and Tex-Mex flavors.

If you're seeking the ultimate in Tex-Mex comfort food, head to Fajitas, a family-friendly restaurant known for its signature fajita platters. Dishes feature marinated strips of beef and grilled onions, served with a side of cheddar cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream. 

If you're craving tamales, that other favorite Southwestern comfort food, The Tamale Store in north Phoenix offers freshly made, moist and irresistible tamales by the dozen, including their popular Tex-Mex tamale, made with ground beef and Monterrey jack cheese.


TexAZ Grill is something of a local institution around these parts. This friendly, family-run restaurant has been bringing a taste of Texas to the Valley for more than 30 years. The menu is frequently updated with specials, but you can always count on Texas- and Southern-inspired fare like chicken fried steak, pork chops cooked southern-style, fried catfish, and of course, plenty of steak options. TexAZ also offers a Sunday brunch menu with house specialties that include the indulgent Paris Texas Toast, and the house "Chicken Fried Deliciousness," featuring your choice of meat, double-dipped and fried, and served with the restaurant's irresistible mashed potatoes and gravy. Come for the food, but stick around for the fun and friendly atmosphere.

Recommended for Tex-Mex because: Although not a traditional Tex-Mex restaurant, you will find plenty of southwestern-influenced fare on the menu at this popular neighborhood restaurant.

Local Expert tip: Don't miss the chicken fried steak.

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Sometimes you need to add a little spice to your life, and this is the place to do just that. Featuring the flavors of New Mexico, Richardson's satisfies hungry mouths until late into the evening. Chiles rellenos, quesadillas and wood-fired pizzas make up the traditional fare, and grilled pork chops (stuffed with spicy chorizo), chimayo chicken (stuffed with spinach, dried tomatoes, poblano chilies, and asiago cheese) are other local favorites. Perhaps the signature dish for weekend brunch is eggs Benedict with jalapeno hollandaise. Of course, you won't want to leave Richardson's without trying their signature dish: the green chile potato.

Recommended for Tex-Mex because: Although Richardson's specializes in the cuisine of New Mexico, the restaurant's uniquely southwestern menu will appeal to Tex-Mex lovers.

Patricia's expert tip: If you're a fan of green chile, you'll want to make it a point to visit Richardson's.

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The Original Carolina's Mexican Food

This South Phoenix institution has been dishing out some of the best home-style Mexican food for decades. Don't be fooled by the humble exterior and lackluster dining area: the food is hot, tasty, and top-notch. Tacos, burros, flautas, chimichangas, tostadas, and tamales: all your favorites are here, made to order. As if that wasn't enough, you can eat well here with the spare change in your pocket. Perfect for a quick and affordable meal on the go, Carolina's continues to draw regulars craving down-home, no-nonsense Mexican food. Great for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner. Don't forget to sample the famous tortillas.

Recommended for Tex-Mex because: Carolina's isn't strictly Tex-Mex, but you'll want to sample the quintessentially Mexican American menu at this local Phoenix legend.

Patricia's expert tip: The hot, pillowy flour tortillas at Carolina are the stuff of local food legend, and easily available for take-out.

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Dishes prominently influenced by New Mexico traditions are the main feature of this establishment. Owners Paul Bigelow and Jose Leyva present Arizona locals with an inexpensive way to enjoy top-quality Southwestern fare. Most popular are well-priced combination plates like the Tres Santa Fe, which offers three choices from a long list of mouthwatering items (tenderloin rellenos, chicken burros, shrimp enchiladas and pork tamales). Or try the Tex-Mex delight known as the chimichanga, with your choice of chicken or shredded beef, caramelized onions, jack and cheddar cheese, placed in a large folded tortilla, folded, then deep fried to create a light crispy texture, then topped off with adobo sour cream. For dessert, sopaipillas are an excellent way to bring dinner to a delightful close.

Recommended for Tex-Mex because: The Blue Adobe Grill offers gourmet southwestern with authenticity and flair.

Patricia's expert tip: The popular happy hour features $2.00 off any item on the front page of the menu and $4 House Margaritas.

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Fajitas, those sizzling hotplates brimming with marinated meats and veggies (served with a side of cheddar cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream, of course), is the focal point at this north-central Phoenix restaurant. The restaurant uses an exclusive house blend of seasonings for an out-of-this world rub, and meats are slowly grilled over mesquite charcoal for that delicious wood-smoked flavor. The menu extends beyond fajitas to include traditional Mexican, Tex-Mex and other southwestern fare, including burritos, enchiladas, quesadilas and seafood dishes. Recipes contain no lard or animal fat and the house chips are fried in high quality 100% Canola oil.

Recommended for Tex-Mex because: Fajitas offers down-home Mexican and Tex-Mex fare using fresh ingredients in a family-friendly dining room.

Patricia's expert tip: Try the cheese crisps, which are baked, not fried. Lunch specials are available Monday through Friday from 11:00am - 2:00pm.

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This central Phoenix bar and grill is named after the historic Sierra Bonita Ranch in Southeastern Arizona. The restaurant offers an authentic Southwestern culinary experience, dishing out menu favorites such as their house Cowboy Stew, made from braised beef, hominy, carrots, onions and chiles in a rich beef broth, then garnished with crispy sweet potato strips and served with a warmed flour tortilla (fried egg on top is optional). For a hearty take on traditional Tex-Mex cooking, try the smoked Red or Green Chile Pork Roast, a smoked pork roast served with charro beans, roasted tomato rice, salsa fresca and a warmed flour tortilla.

Recommended for Tex-Mex because: Sierra Bonita Grill captures the spirit of Southwestern cooking without resorting to kitsch, but rather focusing on great ingredients and service.

Patricia's expert tip: Come here for one of the tastiest Happy Hours in town, Monday through Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m.

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Rustic yet casually upscale, Dick's Hideaway is the kind of place locals take out-of-towners for an authentic taste of traditional Southwest flavors. Lunch, breakfast and dinner is served at this small local gem, where the smell of slow-roasted pork greets the steady stream of diners at all hours of day. The Southwest-inspired botanas (appetizers) menu makes a great starting point . Try the roasted garlic plate, served with roasted peppers and green chiles bubbling over with flavor, or the tomatillo toast, grilled chicken and ham served over toast and smothered in green chile peppers, tomatillo salsa and cheddar cheese. Although you can get great burgers, salads and past at Dick's, the Santa Fe Trail menu is the real star of the show. For a little taste of everything, try the New Mexican Platter, featuring a red chile pork tamale, cheese relleno, chicken burro, rice and beans�all simmered in your choice of green or red sauce. But if you want to eat like a local, try the Carne Adovada, a house favorite featuring smoked pork roast simmered in red chile and served with rice, beans and a tortilla. Not to be missed for a true taste of the southwest.

Recommended for Tex-Mex because: Dick's Hideaway is a uniquely Phoenix restaurant offering masterful takes of Southwestern classics.

Patricia's expert tip: Breakfast is king at Dick's HIdeaway. Stop in for a traditional plate of huevos rancheros, or if you're really hungry, Vic's green chile meatloaf and eggs makes for a hearty and delicious first meal.

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Hearty portions, fresh salsa, and creamy, cheese-topped beans are on the menu at Popo's Fiesta del Sol, a popular family-friendly Mexican restaurant on Phoenix's westside. Festive decor and a huge menu of Mexican staples make this a popular choice for happy hour, too. There are even gringo-friendly eats like rib-eye steak and burgers. If you can't decide what to order, take a peek at the Popo's specialty menu for a winning selection of combo platters. The fiesta platter comes with a cheesy chile relleno, machaca taco, rice and beans, and flour tortillas. When you're ready to chow down, don't miss the Monster Burrito, two flour tortillas stuffed with rice, beans, pico de gallo, grilled onions, bell peppers, and cheese.

Recommended for Tex-Mex because: Popo's is a long-standing favorite on the westside, and a good source for Tex-Mex stalwarts like fajitas, plus a menu of "comida americana."

Patricia's expert tip: Mondays are all-you-can-eat day, which means you can chow down on all the beef, chicken or machaca tacos and bean tostadas you want.

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This award-winning restaurant specializes in everyone's favorite Mexican comfort food staple: tamales. Soft, moist and stuffed with delicious meats, veggies and cheeses, there are almost as many ways to make tamales as there is to enjoy them. At the Tamale Store in north Phoenix, tamales come in infinite arrays of deliciousness. Classic incarnations include Beef Red Chile, Pork Green Chile, Pork Red Chile, as well as specialty tamales such as Chicken Chipotle, Chicken Green Chile, Chicken Mole, and the Tex Mex, made with ground beef and Monterrey jack cheese. Vegetarian and vegan options are available as well, as well as mouth-watering dessert tamales.

Recommended for Tex-Mex because: The Tamales Store is one of the Valley's best sources for authentic yet eclectic tamales.

Patricia's expert tip: Try the delicious dessert tamales, which include Traditional Sweet Corn and Strawberry and Raisins.

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Outside of town

Just north of Phoenix in the quaint Western hamlet of Cave Creek, you'll find Tonto Bar & Grill, an award-winning restaurant specializing in authentic Southwestern cuisine. The Tonto frequently makes the list of the top restaurants in the state, and for good reason: the restaurant is distinguished for using only all-natural meats, sustainable seafood, and incorporating many native Arizona products as possible into the elegant menu. Salads, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, and fish- and meat entrees stand out for their creativity and gourmet ingredients. The elegant dining room looks out over lush desert and a perennially green golf course, making this the perfect destination for a special lunch or dinner.

Recommended for Tex-Mex because: Tonto Bar & Grill is an award-winning restaurant that uses high quality, locally-sourced ingredients to create one-of-kind Southwest specialties.

Patricia's expert tip: Start your meal with the savory Three Sister Salsas, Corn & Tomato, Chayote Squash & Tomatillo, and Tepary Bean with Red Chilies salsas served with served with a trio of chips featuring corn, flour & Indian Fry Bread.

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Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.