Dallas' Ten Best Mexican Restaurants Dish Up South of the Border Deliciousness

Considering Texas' historical and geographical connection to Mexico, it should come as no surprise that Dallas is absolutely brimming with terrific Mexican restaurants. But the city's South of the Border fare goes well beyond the usual Tex-Mex options.

At Mesa, a family-run joint in Oak Cliff–the specialty of the house is Veracruz-style cuisine, where you can find everything from lobster enchiladas to duck mole. There's also Trompo, a hole-in-the-wall taqueria that's taken the city by storm. Though it's not only the locals who are obsessed with the Monterrey-style street tacos here, the editors at Bon Appétit were impressed as well. So much so, they even named it among the top 50 new restaurants in the country.

In the mood for a platter of cabrito (goat) fajitas? Or how about some codorniz a la talla (charbroiled quail)? That's exactly what you're in for at Javier's, an upscale Highland Park eatery that has been wowing crowds with the flavors of Mexico City since 1977.

Speaking of Mayan cuisine, Nico Sanchez whips up a glorious Conchita pibil at Meso Maya. His menu also features regional Mexican dishes from Veracruz, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Of course, this wouldn't be a proper Mexican food bucket list without mentioning El Ranchito, a neighborhood gem that serves up the kind of dishes your abuela might make.

And we're just getting started, keep reading to find out where to find amazing mole, chiles rellenos, tacos and more. 



El Ranchito
Photo courtesy of El Ranchito

It's kitschy, boisterous, and hands down, undeniably popular. So don't be surprised to find a line snaking out the door, especially on weekends. But it's not just the strolling mariachi bands, Elvis impersonators (Wednesday nights) and eclectic décor (piñatas, wagon wheel chandeliers and the works) that lures folks to this decades-old institution, the real show here is the food. Famous for its Northern Mexican or Norteño cuisine--El Ranchito cranks out the kind of food your abuela might make, like mollejas (beef sweetbreads), fried tripe and its signature cabrito a la parrilla (grilled baby goat). However, if all that seems a little too adventurous for your taste buds, you can dig into some pure Tex-Mex fare as well. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, nachos it's all there. Desserts are also excellent, especially the sopapillas. Terrific food, massive-sized margaritas and friendly service--what's not to love?

Meso Maya Downtown
Photo courtesy of Meso Maya

From top-shelf margaritas to a cracking selection of Mexican fare—everything at this sprawling downtown cantina is blow-your-mind delicious. Sure, they've got terrific enchiladas and tacos here, but the interior Mexican specialties:think Cochinita Pibil, a yucatan-style pork dish braised in citrus and achiote and Budin Azteca, a Mexican take on lasagna—are also worth your attention. And speaking of tacos, there's a taco-to-go window (La Ventana) adjacent to the restaurant that serves burritos, quesadillas, salads and tacos loaded with everything from chunks of braised pork to beef tongue. Did we mention that they crank out awesome margaritas too?

Javier's Gourmet Mexicano
Photo courtesy of Javier's Gourmet Mexicano

Ask anyone where to find good Mexican food in Dallas and they'll unquestionably point you to this Highland Park mainstay, a rustically-chic restaurant that's packed to the rafters almost every night. In fact, Javier's has been one of the city's hottest meal tickets since it opened in 1977, and in a town that's not lacking in Mexican cuisine, that's certainly saying something. But don't come here looking for your usual Tex-Mex fare of tacos and enchiladas, instead Javier's offers a taste of modern Mexico City with mouthwatering dishes that reflect the country's various regions. The menu leads with items such as Acapulco-style ceviche and grilled Monterey cheese with chorizo and moves on to mains which include everything from chile ancho marinated charbroiled quail to Barra de Navidad, a plate featuring jumbo shrimp sautéed in a blend of coffee, orange juice, tomato sauce and spices. For carnivores, there's the filete Durango–a grilled tenderloin filet that's stuffed with cheese and chillaca pepper– as well as fajitas made with beef, chicken and baby goat (cabrito). Be sure to end with dessert, the cajeta crepes are out of this world.

Beto & Son
Photo courtesy of Beto & Son

Further cementing Trinity Groves' reputation as the city's premier foodie hub is Beto and Son, a colorful cantina boasting a high-end take on Mexican cuisine. Tacos, fajitas, quesadillas and stacked enchiladas all feature, alongside guacamole made at the table. But it doesn't stop there. Other options include Mexican-style poutine, tater tot nachos, tortas and noodle bowls topped with everything from seared salmon to roasted carnitas and chili relleno. The Margarita lineup, like the Dos Flores Margarita with St. Germain Elderflower Liquor, hibiscus and Sauza Blue— is definitely worth exploring. As for dessert, head straight for the flan. Here that means a dense chocolate cake topped with velvety flan, whipped cream and a dousing of cajeta. Trust us, you'll lick the plate clean.

Photo courtesy of Trompo

They say you can't always judge a book by its cover, and this family-run taco joint is further proof of that. But don't take our word for it, take Bon Appétit's, which named Trompo one of 50 finalists on the 2016 America's best new restaurant list. And considering this no-frills, counter-service only eatery boasts just a few tables and chairs, it might be a stretch to call this place a restaurant. But what it lacks in aesthetics it more than makes up for it with the food. The small menu consists of three or four types of Monterrey-style street tacos and open-faced quesadillas filled with the likes of bistek (beef), pork, and poblano chili with paneer cheese. You can't go wrong with any choice, but you'd be remiss to not try the restaurant's signature taco, the Trompo. Named for rotating vertical spit it's cooked on, these handheld beauties feature succulent roasted pork loaded up on griddled corn tortillas and topped with onions, cilantro and a splash of homemade green salsa. Bon Appétit declared this taco one of the best in America and we're inclined to agree.

Photo courtesy of Lalo's Fine Mexican Cuisine

Lalo's may look unassuming from the outside, hidden within the depths of a non-descript strip mall on the Plano/Richardson border— but this sleek spot regularly ranks at the top of the heap among its legions of adoring fans. And it isn't hard to see why. Diners flock here to dig into traditional Mexican dishes such as chicken mole and sopecitos (thick fried corn tortillas stacked with brisket, beans, queso and sour cream) along with Tex-Mex favorites that cover quesadillas, tamales, enchiladas and, of course, tacos filled with everything from succulent pork al pastor to sliced New York strip and fried battered onions. You can't beat the house made chips either, they come served up with complimentary salsa and black bean dip. And the friendly staff is just the icing on the cake. Speaking of cake, don't skip dessert. The lush chocolate cake topped with flan and dulce de leche has your name on it.

Mi Dia From Scratch
Photo courtesy of Mi Dia From Scratch

With locations in Grapevine, Flower Mound and Plano, this upscale eatery has established a loyal following for its vibrant, crowd-pleasing menu of Mexican, New Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Dishes run the gamut from artisanal street tacos to New Mexico style pork carnitas, wood grilled banana leaf wrapped salmon and chile rellenos stuffed with the likes of sautéed huitlacoche (Mexican truffles), roasted veggies and queso asadero. The drink menu is just as impressive: Choose from a lengthy list of over-the-top margaritas (think hibiscus champagne margaritas) or explore their vast selection of mezcal and in-house infused tequilas. Don't pass up the tableside guacamole. Leave room for dessert, the churros are phenomenal.

Revolver Taco Lounge
Photo courtesy of Revolver Taco Lounge

This tiny Deep Ellum taqueria has a cult following, and for good reason. It boasts a menu created by chef Regino Rojas that is as inventive as it is delicious. Corn tortillas are made fresh to order and come stuffed with everything from braised Wagyu beef tongue to octopus carnitas, Thai curry frog legs, and even lobster tail. But tacos aren't the only things to come for. In the back of the lounge is a hidden 14-seat dining cove (the Purépecha Room) where guests are treated to an eight-course modern Michoacan-style feast for around $100. If that's out of your range, also consider hitting this place for the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffet. For $35 per person, you can indulge in 5 various kinds of guisados (stews), menudo, chilaquiles, quesadillas and ceviches plus Mexican spiced coffee and agua fresca. Oh, and did we mention that it's open until 2:30 a.m. on weekends?

South Dallas
The Cedars Social
Photo courtesy of The Cedars Social

A recent resurrection led by one of the Dallas' most legendary restaurateurs has turned this cozy Southside neighborhood spot into one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in the city. And with terrific modern takes on Mexico City cuisine, plus Yucatan-inspired cocktails and a killer ambience, it's not hard to see why. Try the duck confit flautitas, snapper ceviche, grilled octopus and pretty much anything covered in one of the rotating moles. As for booze, order a Sicar, made with mescal, papaya puree, passion fruit syrup, lime juice, habanero chile and served over ice in a Tajin chile-salt rimmed glass. Another reason to come? The patio has an amazing view of the Dallas skyline.

Mesa Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Mesa Restaurant

For an off the beaten track Mexican restaurant, located along a sketchy shopping strip in Oak Cliff-- to attract the likes of Beyoncé, Jay Z and Conan O'Brien-- you have to figure that the place must be special. And it is because the food is nothing short of spectacular. The specialty of the house is Veracruz-style cuisine, which shows up in the form of things like cochinita pibil (slow roasted pork marinated in citrus juices and annatto seeds) and lobster enchiladas smothered in yellow pepper cream. A must-try is Mesa's signature mole mama cata-- a dish with braised duck legs in a family recipe mole sauce. Team it up with a spicy margarita, made with chili spiked (serrano, habanero and jalapeno peppers) tequila.


Meet Ilene Jacobs

As a perpetual wanderer, foodie freak and wannabe chef, Ilene is always on the lookout for the best places to see, eat, drink and sleep. When she's not writing about the latest happenings in...  More About Ilene