Seen in different ways by a large percentage of the population, the average, supposedly Americanized Mexican restaurant is often assumed to be less authentic than anything served south of the border. This misconception can lead people to think that Mexican restaurants are less cultural and more commercial. What many people fail to realize is that since the 1920s Mexican cuisine has been integrated into American culture.
The feel is almost always the same and the cuisine is as authentic in one location as it is in another. The culture that created the enticing dishes that are staples of fine Mexican cuisine is still very much its own entity. Mexican restaurants have become one of the mainstays of American culture.
What makes Mexican restaurants authentic is also what makes these 10 selections some of the best in the USA.
Guaymas – Tiburon, CA
Situated in full view of the beautiful San Francisco Bay area, this village-inspired grill makes full use of its natural resources in creating its entirely authentic and innovative dishes. It serves one of the most delectable whole fishes, Pescado Veracruzana, that can be found outside of Mexico. While you eat you can also watch as the ferries carry passengers from one shore to the next. With sizzling, enticing fajitas that will satisfy any appetite and a margarita list that could satisfy almost any discerning customer, Guaymas is your destination.
Tacos Tequila Whiskey – Denver, CO
Only three years back there was a food truck that went by the name of Pinche Tacos. It was an odd name to be certain, but its service and food were more than enough to offset its unfortunate moniker. After a while their profits grew enough to afford them a more stable location form which to sell their legendary lengua tacos, tostadas, and a healthy selection of tequilas meant to satisfy most tastes. From their sweet and sour pork belly agridulce to the quajillo honey mayo this restaurant is a haven of delights that have people coming back again and again.
Empellon Cocina – New York, NY
Having already been established in the Big Apple, the people behind this culinary powerhouse decided to open a second location in the East Village, and they struck gold. From the classy exterior of the building to the stunning selection of foods such as manila clams with chorizo rojo, tacos, and melted tetilla cheese with lobster, it’s no wonder why their stock has risen. Featuring a variety of salsas and moles such as the famed pistachio guacamole, the chefs of Empellon Cocina know how to satisfy their guests.
Topolobampo – Chicago, IL
This restaurant makes the list of anyone compiling the best Mexican restaurants in America. If not, then the reviewer either hasn’t set foot into the restaurant or should consider a career change. After scouring Mexico seeking the best ingredients and recipes indigenous to the country, Rick Bayless has come up with a menu that is both satisfying and absolutely vibrant in its use of authentic Mexican recipes.
La Super-Rica Taqueria – Santa Barbara, CA
Having been a local attraction in Santa Barbara for many a year, La Super-Rica has become known as one of the favored haunts of culinary guru Julia Child. She went on to publicize that this was in fact her favorite Mexican restaurant, which did wonders for its reputation. It’s menu is replete with tacos, tamales, and such drinks as horchata. The line leading into this establishment can be absolutely horrendous to navigate, but once over the threshold you won’t want to leave. Once you taste their tacos de abobado, you’ll be hooked.
El Charro Café – Tucson, AZ
El Charro opened in 1922 and has been going strong ever since, being operated by the same family all this time and still serving up culinary delights in the form of enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, and other dishes that people can’t get enough of. Their carne seca is still dried atop the restaurant as it has always been, giving their foods an old-school taste that can’t be beat. After nearly a century in business it’s obvious they’re doing something right.
Nuestra Cocina – Portland, OR
One of the more upscale locations on this list, Nuestra Cocina serves a more Central Mexican cuisine. It exists as one of the one of the more prominent businesses within Portland’s Division Street boom, and has experienced great success through its use of authentic ingredients and recipes. Its wide, spacious patio seating and impressive selection of tequilas offers up a feeling of home-cooked meals. Guests are always invited to partake of the cochinta pibil’s pork and the asada, while the barbacoa is always a favorite, along with the lamb. This is comfort food taken to a new level, which is essential for a place such as the Rose City.
Nopalito – San Francisco, CA
As the story goes, the upscale restaurant known as Nopa inspired the rise of Nopalito in 2009. This was largely due to the impression that was made upon the owners of Nopa, who had a desire to open a restaurant that was all about authentic Mexican cooking. Delicacies such as birria de res and pozole rojo will tingle your taste buds with a wondrous sensation of absolute pleasure and a thrill of taste that will keep you coming back for more. One note though, it will be necessary to get on the waiting list, as Nopalito is a rather popular, upscale location.
Meso Maya – Dallas, TX
If there’s any place in the world where Mexican food should be expected to be authentic and full of taste, its Texas. Only a few years back Meso Maya assumed control of a building that had once housed Dallas’ first outdoor patio. To the current day the menu is dominated by items such as carne asada, elotes, budin Azteca, and a list of tequilas that is better listed by the dozens. This establishment even features a walk-up window in the back that serves tacos, tacos, and nothing but tacos.
Barrio Café – Phoenix, AZ
Bedecked in graffiti that is an expression of a local artist, this popular café was founded by Silvana Salcido Esparza, a four-time nominee for the prestigious James Beard Award. She runs her kitchen with an expertise that is rare in the culinary field and is a wonder to behold. This café carries a rather impressive aesthetic and as such outdoes its simple menu of comfort foods such as the cochinita pibil and their Yucatan-style pico de gallo.