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A fajita platter fit for a king at Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe
Gary Wise/Flickr

14 Essential Mexican and Tex-Mex Restaurants In Houston

From cheesy enchiladas to complex mole, these eateries will satisfy any hankering for Mexican cuisine.

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A fajita platter fit for a king at Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe
| Gary Wise/Flickr

It's no surprise that Houston is hope to plenty of excellent Mexican food — but it's the wide variety of both flavors and price tags that really makes this segment of the city’s culinary scene unique. Situated at the crossroads of Texan, Mexican and Cajun cuisines, Houston restauranteurs have always had to cater to a range of tastes.

But where does one find Houston's best Mexican restaurants? Foods from across Mexico can be found all over Clutch City, including the grilled meats of Chihuahua, the complex moles of Puebla, and the fish stews of Veracruz. From upscale, tablecloth establishments like Hugo's to the taco trucks dotting the city, Houston captures Mexican food traditions with a breadth that's hard to beat.

Whether new to Houston or just stuck in a boring Tex-Mex rut, use this map as a guide for exploration.

Is your favorite Tex-Mex or Mexican spot missing from this map? Shout it out in the comments.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe

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1511 Airline Dr
Houston, TX 77009
(713) 426-4420
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Bring a date and indulge in one of the parrilladas, or platters, at any of this popular Mexican cafe's three locations. $35 scores diners the Teotihuacan parrillada, piled high with grilled quail, beef & chicken fajitas, short ribs. A cheese-stuffed poblano pepper gilds the lily.

2. Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen

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1140 Eldridge Pkwy
Houston, TX 77077
(832) 230-3842
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Scratchmade dishes from Chef Sylvia Casares are the definition of comfort food. Dig into fajitas, caldo de pollo (especially great for hangovers and colds) and wood-grilled seafood, or try Casares’ rib-sticking enchiladas filled with everything from from classic cheese and chicken to calabacita and crab.

3. The Original Ninfa's on Navigation

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2704 Navigation Blvd
Houston, TX 77003
(713) 228-1175
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It's impossible to have a discussion about Houston Tex-Mex (and Mexican fare in general) without bringing up the Original Ninfa's on Navigation. Order the fajitas, which are famous, or go with classic enchiladas. Recently, the restaurant scored a big upgrade with new wood-fired grills and craft cocktails from Julep's Alba Huerta.

Ninfa's on Navigation

4. Xochi

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1777 Walker St
Houston, TX 77010
(713) 400-3330
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One of Eater’s best new restaurants in 2017, Xochi is Chef Hugo Ortega’s love letter to Oaxaca. Enjoy dishes like pork rib memelas, wood-roasted octopus served over masa pancakes, and more small plates, then transition into bigger offerings like the bistec con mole de Chicatana, a Prime ribeye served with ant mole.

Xochi is one of the country's best new restaurants, and Houston agrees Bill Addison/Eater

5. La Mexicana

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1018 Fairview St
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 521-0963
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Half-grocery store, half-bakery, Super La Mexicana is a great place for a quick bite. But despite what the name suggests, this tiny storefront leans towards Central American food, with things like pupusas (basically, a stuffed cornmeal pancake) and a firey cabbage slaw featuring heavily on the menu. The real stand-out is the tamales: Wrapped in a banana leaf rather than a corn husk and made with finer corn meal, they are smoother than the average tamal.

Yelp/VK

6. Hugo's

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1600 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 524-7744
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This inventive restaurant is known for its playful renditions of Mexican classics. (Think: squash soup, duck carnitas, and mole made with candied apples and tamarind.) The agave-roasted barabacoa has earned accolades, but for a truly unique dining experience, try the chapulines, or crispy fried grasshoppers served with guacamole and tortillas.

Bill Addison

7. Tacos Tierra Caliente

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1919 W Alabama St
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 584-9359
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There are a lot of taco trucks in central Houston, but Tacos Tierra Caliente is arguably the best. Parked just across the street from Alabama Ice House, this drunk-food haven offers a simple menu of tortas, quesadillas and classic Mexican street tacos. It's the tacos — especially the pastor — that really make this place worth it. Cash only.

Yelp/Karen G.

8. Picos Restaurant

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3601 Kirby Dr
Houston, TX 77098
(832) 831-9940
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Pico's has gone upscale, but it's still dishing out super-authentic fare from south of the border. Unlike the usual neighborhood Tex-Mex joint, Pico's tempers its tacos and enchiladas with extremely sophisticated entrees that can be hard to find elsewhere. Case in point is the chili en nogada: a roasted poblano pepper, stuffed with pork, fruit and nuts and then covered in pomegranates and walnut cream.

9. 100% Taquito

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3245 Southwest Fwy
Houston, TX 77027
(713) 665-2900
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What started as a project at the University of Houston soon morphed into an Upper Kirby favorite. Expect lots of lovable kitsch — a dated VW Beetle is parked in a window — and small plates that depart from heavy Tex-Mex fare. Get an asada or pastor torta: Although the bread is good and the meat is great, it's the sour carrot and jalapeño slaw that really makes these sandwiches sing.

Yelp/Norm B.

10. Tacos La Bala #2

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5800 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77081
(713) 839-8226
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With charm of a taco truck and the quality of a restaurant, Tacos La Bala offers the best of both worlds. The meats here, including the falling-apart barbacoa, have been cooked masterfully. It's hard to go wrong with this menu — except for vegetarians — the chicharrón tacos are a must. Unlike most chicharrón, which is crispy, Tacos La Bala slow-simmers its version to tender perfection.

Yelp/John S.

11. Fajita Pete's

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4050 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77025
(713) 723-8100
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Staying true to its name, Fajita Pete's serves up ridiculously tender fajitas. For one thing, this takeout-friendly restaurant manages to cook their skirt steak — normally quite a tough cut of beef — to an odds-defying level of tenderness. (Asked how they did it, an employee explained, “just a lot of love, I think.”) It's the complex, lime-forward marinade that really makes the beef, though. Get it sliced as fajitas, or served whole as the poblano steak.

Yelp/Brittany N.

12. M&M Grill

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6921 Almeda Rd
Houston, TX 77021
(713) 747-8226
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Thanks to Houston's endlessly diverse population, this quick-service spot serves up excellent Tex-Mex fare made with Halal meats. The fajitas are a consistently excellent choice, and M&M Grill’s excellent breakfast burritos are totally worth waking up early.

M&M Grill/Facebook

13. Pancho's Meat Market

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7001 Long Dr
Houston, TX 77087
(713) 643-7989
Visit Website

For DIY tacos, Pancho's Meat Market is the place. While there are a lot of great Mexican grocers in Houston, this local chain stands out for its prepared foods. There's a wide variety of Mexican staples too choose from, so get some fresh tortillas and stuff ‘em with meat. Don’t forget to save room in the cart for the charro beans.

Yelp/Roger T.

14. Las Tortugas - Tortas Perronas

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1837 Bingle Rd
Houston, TX 77055
(713) 461-1900
Visit Website

This small eatery’s namesake sandwich is offered in dozens of different ways at Las Tortugas. Keep it simple with the Guera (chicken, cheese, avocado) or go meat-crazy with the Borracha (ham, skirt steak, two different types of cheese). Whatever the choice, it won’t cost much more than $6 or $7.

1. Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe

1511 Airline Dr, Houston, TX 77009

Bring a date and indulge in one of the parrilladas, or platters, at any of this popular Mexican cafe's three locations. $35 scores diners the Teotihuacan parrillada, piled high with grilled quail, beef & chicken fajitas, short ribs. A cheese-stuffed poblano pepper gilds the lily.

1511 Airline Dr
Houston, TX 77009

2. Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen

1140 Eldridge Pkwy, Houston, TX 77077

Scratchmade dishes from Chef Sylvia Casares are the definition of comfort food. Dig into fajitas, caldo de pollo (especially great for hangovers and colds) and wood-grilled seafood, or try Casares’ rib-sticking enchiladas filled with everything from from classic cheese and chicken to calabacita and crab.

1140 Eldridge Pkwy
Houston, TX 77077

3. The Original Ninfa's on Navigation

2704 Navigation Blvd, Houston, TX 77003
Ninfa's on Navigation

It's impossible to have a discussion about Houston Tex-Mex (and Mexican fare in general) without bringing up the Original Ninfa's on Navigation. Order the fajitas, which are famous, or go with classic enchiladas. Recently, the restaurant scored a big upgrade with new wood-fired grills and craft cocktails from Julep's Alba Huerta.

2704 Navigation Blvd
Houston, TX 77003

4. Xochi

1777 Walker St, Houston, TX 77010
Xochi is one of the country's best new restaurants, and Houston agrees Bill Addison/Eater

One of Eater’s best new restaurants in 2017, Xochi is Chef Hugo Ortega’s love letter to Oaxaca. Enjoy dishes like pork rib memelas, wood-roasted octopus served over masa pancakes, and more small plates, then transition into bigger offerings like the bistec con mole de Chicatana, a Prime ribeye served with ant mole.

1777 Walker St
Houston, TX 77010

5. La Mexicana

1018 Fairview St, Houston, TX 77006
Yelp/VK

Half-grocery store, half-bakery, Super La Mexicana is a great place for a quick bite. But despite what the name suggests, this tiny storefront leans towards Central American food, with things like pupusas (basically, a stuffed cornmeal pancake) and a firey cabbage slaw featuring heavily on the menu. The real stand-out is the tamales: Wrapped in a banana leaf rather than a corn husk and made with finer corn meal, they are smoother than the average tamal.

1018 Fairview St
Houston, TX 77006

6. Hugo's

1600 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006
Bill Addison

This inventive restaurant is known for its playful renditions of Mexican classics. (Think: squash soup, duck carnitas, and mole made with candied apples and tamarind.) The agave-roasted barabacoa has earned accolades, but for a truly unique dining experience, try the chapulines, or crispy fried grasshoppers served with guacamole and tortillas.

1600 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006

7. Tacos Tierra Caliente

1919 W Alabama St, Houston, TX 77098
Yelp/Karen G.

There are a lot of taco trucks in central Houston, but Tacos Tierra Caliente is arguably the best. Parked just across the street from Alabama Ice House, this drunk-food haven offers a simple menu of tortas, quesadillas and classic Mexican street tacos. It's the tacos — especially the pastor — that really make this place worth it. Cash only.

1919 W Alabama St
Houston, TX 77098

8. Picos Restaurant

3601 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77098

Pico's has gone upscale, but it's still dishing out super-authentic fare from south of the border. Unlike the usual neighborhood Tex-Mex joint, Pico's tempers its tacos and enchiladas with extremely sophisticated entrees that can be hard to find elsewhere. Case in point is the chili en nogada: a roasted poblano pepper, stuffed with pork, fruit and nuts and then covered in pomegranates and walnut cream.

3601 Kirby Dr
Houston, TX 77098

9. 100% Taquito

3245 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77027
Yelp/Norm B.

What started as a project at the University of Houston soon morphed into an Upper Kirby favorite. Expect lots of lovable kitsch — a dated VW Beetle is parked in a window — and small plates that depart from heavy Tex-Mex fare. Get an asada or pastor torta: Although the bread is good and the meat is great, it's the sour carrot and jalapeño slaw that really makes these sandwiches sing.

3245 Southwest Fwy
Houston, TX 77027

10. Tacos La Bala #2

5800 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77081
Yelp/John S.

With charm of a taco truck and the quality of a restaurant, Tacos La Bala offers the best of both worlds. The meats here, including the falling-apart barbacoa, have been cooked masterfully. It's hard to go wrong with this menu — except for vegetarians — the chicharrón tacos are a must. Unlike most chicharrón, which is crispy, Tacos La Bala slow-simmers its version to tender perfection.

5800 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77081

11. Fajita Pete's

4050 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77025
Yelp/Brittany N.

Staying true to its name, Fajita Pete's serves up ridiculously tender fajitas. For one thing, this takeout-friendly restaurant manages to cook their skirt steak — normally quite a tough cut of beef — to an odds-defying level of tenderness. (Asked how they did it, an employee explained, “just a lot of love, I think.”) It's the complex, lime-forward marinade that really makes the beef, though. Get it sliced as fajitas, or served whole as the poblano steak.

4050 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77025

12. M&M Grill

6921 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77021
M&M Grill/Facebook

Thanks to Houston's endlessly diverse population, this quick-service spot serves up excellent Tex-Mex fare made with Halal meats. The fajitas are a consistently excellent choice, and M&M Grill’s excellent breakfast burritos are totally worth waking up early.

6921 Almeda Rd
Houston, TX 77021

13. Pancho's Meat Market

7001 Long Dr, Houston, TX 77087
Yelp/Roger T.

For DIY tacos, Pancho's Meat Market is the place. While there are a lot of great Mexican grocers in Houston, this local chain stands out for its prepared foods. There's a wide variety of Mexican staples too choose from, so get some fresh tortillas and stuff ‘em with meat. Don’t forget to save room in the cart for the charro beans.

7001 Long Dr
Houston, TX 77087

14. Las Tortugas - Tortas Perronas

1837 Bingle Rd, Houston, TX 77055

This small eatery’s namesake sandwich is offered in dozens of different ways at Las Tortugas. Keep it simple with the Guera (chicken, cheese, avocado) or go meat-crazy with the Borracha (ham, skirt steak, two different types of cheese). Whatever the choice, it won’t cost much more than $6 or $7.

1837 Bingle Rd
Houston, TX 77055

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