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Platter of quail fajitas from El Tiempo.
From the same family that brought Houston the famous fajitas, the restaurant El Tiempo offers sizzling meat combinations and agave tequila-based margaritas.
Kate LeSueur

16 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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From the same family that brought Houston the famous fajitas, the restaurant El Tiempo offers sizzling meat combinations and agave tequila-based margaritas.
| Kate LeSueur

Home of the restaurant credited with introducing the United States to fajitas, it's no surprise that Houston has some of the best Tex-Mex food in the world.

Cuisine that spans the country of 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 and affordable cafes dotting the city, Houston captures Mexican food traditions with a breadth that’s hard to beat.

And it’s not only the various cuisines that can leave a person at a standstill when deciding on where to dine, it's also the wide variety of flavors — situated at the crossroads of Texan, Mexican, and Cajun — that really makes this segment of the city’s culinary scene unique.

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. Tacos La Bala

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5515 Gessner Rd suite b suite b
Houston, TX 77041
(832) 243-4768

With the allure of a taco truck, Tacos La Bala offers the best of both worlds. The meats here, including the falling-apart barbacoa, have been cooked masterfully, and the chicharron tacos are a must. Unlike most Mexican spots which serve them crispy, Tacos La Bala slow-simmers its version of chicharron to tender perfection.

2. Puebla's Mexican Kitchen

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6320 N Main St
Houston, TX 77009
(713) 426-9062
Visit Website

Decorated in Mexican folk and pop art, this colorful cafe serves lunch and all-day breakfast with neighborhood charm. Classics like huevos rancheros and breakfast tacos are a given, as are the chilaquiles — made with lightly fried corn tortillas topped with beans and your choice of tomatillo, guajillo, or ranchero sauce — or the migas, made with fried tortillas, scrambled eggs and served with refried beans and queso fresco. The cinnamon coffee will beg you to sip and stay for a while.

3. Las Tortugas - Tortas Perronas

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1837 Bingle Rd
Houston, TX 77055
(713) 461-1900
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This small restaurant’s namesake sandwich is offered in dozens of different ways at Las Tortugas. Keep it simple with the Guera (chicken, cheese, and avocado) or go meat-crazy with the Borracha (ham and skirt steak with two different types of cheese). Whatever the choice, it won’t cost much more than $7.

4. La Chingada Tacos & Tequila

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1402 Northwood St
Houston, TX 77009
(713) 505-1218
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From the unassuming, no-frills storefront to the naughty name, La Chingada is bound to bring some raised eyebrows — though once inside, it’s easy to focus on the food. The restaurant prides itself on its made-to-order recipes. Passed down by generations from Oaxaca and Mexico City, there’s something for everyone — breakfast tortas; tacos of all kinds, including birria-style; and empanadas stuffed with your choice of cheese, chicken tinga, or picadillo. Stop by for their lunch specials, available on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and down a three-taco platter for under $10.

5. 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. Fifty-five dollars scores diners the Teotihuacan parrillada — piled high with chargrilled quail, four jumbo shrimp, beef and chicken fajitas, and short ribs. A cheese-stuffed poblano pepper gilds the lily.

6. 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. Credited with introducing the country to fajitas, it’s vital to try the sizzling dish at least once, but make room for the classic enchiladas, available a la carte, and the Ninfarita, Ninfa’s signature margarita, made with Espolon Blanco Tequila, fresh-squeezed lime juice, agave nectar, and Cointreau.

7. El Tiempo Cantina

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2814 Navigation Blvd
Houston, TX 77003
(713) 222-6800
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Launched by the same family that brought Houston the Original Ninfas, El Tiempo is similarly known for its potent agave tequila margaritas and its sizzling fajitas. Choose between the standard beef, chicken, spicy shrimp or veggie fajitas, or up the experience with the melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon, the salmon fajitas with a mango chimichurri, or the spicy ahi tuna, seared with sesame seed crust and topped with a light mole sauce. Take it to the next level with fajita add-ons, like the “durango” (bacon, tomato, jalapeno, and cilantro), or “la tana,” a mixture of serrano peppers, garlic, and cheese.

8. Xochi

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1777 Walker St
Houston, TX 77010
(713) 400-3330
Visit Website

Chef Hugo Ortega’s love letter to Oaxaca translates into dishes like pork rib memelas, wood-roasted octopus served over masa pancakes, and delicious small plates that are supposed to be for sharing. Larger appetites might call for larger plates like the bistec con mole de Chicatana, a Prime rib-eye served with ant mole, or the enchiladas. Solidify the experience with a “pretty” mezcal or beer cocktail.

Tacos de Chicharron crispy pork belly, blue corn tortilla, refritos, pickled red onion, salsa martajada.
Xochi dishes out upscale and inventive Mexican fare, like the tacos de chicharron, which envelopes crispy pork belly into blue corn tortillas with a side of refritos.
Bill Addison/Eater

9. 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 tostadas, and two types of mole.) The agave-roasted barbacoa has earned accolades, but for a truly unique dining experience, try the chapulines — crispy fried grasshoppers served with guacamole and tortillas.

entrance of Hugo’s covered in greenery.
Hugo’s welcomes diners to experience its playful approach to Mexican cuisine.
Bill Addison

10. Little Pappasito's Cantina

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2536 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 520-5066
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A part of the Pappas franchise, Pappasito’s Cantina has been serving up Tex-Mex fare since the 1970s, and it’s fair to say they know what Houstonians like. Homemade tortilla chips with warm red salsa come complimentary, but appetizers like chicharrones con queso or the sweet and spicy ribs are worthy starters. And while the tacos and enchiladas are fool-proof options — here, the fajitas are the star of the show. Choose between the tender steak — typically cooked medium, the well-seasoned chicken, the grilled quail, or shrimp options. Can’t choose? Get a platter with a sample of each, and seal the experience with a tres leches.

11. Candente

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4306 Yoakum Blvd
Houston, TX 77006
(346) 867-1156
Visit Website

Using smoked and grilled proteins from its sister restaurant, the Pit Room, Candente offers Mexican food with Texas barbecue swag. In addition to traditional Tex-Mex items, there’s brisket enchiladas; brisket nachos; ceviche, made with redfish, shrimp, and scallops; and the Tampiquena for when steak night calls. The signature dish includes a 9-ounce prime rib-eye topped with two cheese enchiladas, grilled onions, and chili-lime butter. If dabbling in a drink or two, don’t leave without purchasing a margarita — frozen or on the rocks — in original, blood orange, strawberry, mango, or prickly pear flavors.

Candente’s brisket nachos topped with pickled red onion and chopped white onion.
With brisket nachos, brisket tacos, and a 9-ounce ribeye topped with two enchiladas, Candente offers Mexican food with Texas barbecue swag.
Candente

12. Picos Restaurant

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3601 Kirby Dr
Houston, TX 77098
(832) 831-9940
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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. A case in point is the chili en nogada — a roasted poblano pepper, stuffed with pork, fruit, and nuts and smothered in pomegranates and walnut cream.

13. 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 jalapeno slaw that really makes these sandwiches sing.

14. 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 community, this quick-service spot serves up excellent Mediterranean Tex-Mex fare made with halal meats. Wake up early for its breakfast burritos, or opt for the fajitas if visiting later.

15. Pancho's Meat Market

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

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 to 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 and a side of menudo.

16. Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen {The Original}

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2202 Broadway St
Pearland, TX 77581
(281) 485-3844
Visit Website

Gringo’s features around a dozen locations across the Houston area, but if you’re interested in seeing where it all began, head to the original spot in Pearland. Each outpost showcases Old West meets Mexican art and antiques while delivering Tex-Mex favorites like taquitos, grilled seafood, and some of the best fajitas and margaritas Houston has to offer. If you’re feeling festive, try the star-spangled banner — a combination of strawberry and lime margarita, swirled with blue curacao, or the sparkler — a margarita of your choice topped with Korbel brut champagne. End your visit with the complimentary soft-serve ice cream.

1. Tacos La Bala

5515 Gessner Rd suite b suite b, Houston, TX 77041

With the allure of a taco truck, Tacos La Bala offers the best of both worlds. The meats here, including the falling-apart barbacoa, have been cooked masterfully, and the chicharron tacos are a must. Unlike most Mexican spots which serve them crispy, Tacos La Bala slow-simmers its version of chicharron to tender perfection.

5515 Gessner Rd suite b suite b
Houston, TX 77041

2. Puebla's Mexican Kitchen

6320 N Main St, Houston, TX 77009

Decorated in Mexican folk and pop art, this colorful cafe serves lunch and all-day breakfast with neighborhood charm. Classics like huevos rancheros and breakfast tacos are a given, as are the chilaquiles — made with lightly fried corn tortillas topped with beans and your choice of tomatillo, guajillo, or ranchero sauce — or the migas, made with fried tortillas, scrambled eggs and served with refried beans and queso fresco. The cinnamon coffee will beg you to sip and stay for a while.

6320 N Main St
Houston, TX 77009

3. Las Tortugas - Tortas Perronas

1837 Bingle Rd, Houston, TX 77055

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

1837 Bingle Rd
Houston, TX 77055

4. La Chingada Tacos & Tequila

1402 Northwood St, Houston, TX 77009

From the unassuming, no-frills storefront to the naughty name, La Chingada is bound to bring some raised eyebrows — though once inside, it’s easy to focus on the food. The restaurant prides itself on its made-to-order recipes. Passed down by generations from Oaxaca and Mexico City, there’s something for everyone — breakfast tortas; tacos of all kinds, including birria-style; and empanadas stuffed with your choice of cheese, chicken tinga, or picadillo. Stop by for their lunch specials, available on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and down a three-taco platter for under $10.

1402 Northwood St
Houston, TX 77009

5. 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. Fifty-five dollars scores diners the Teotihuacan parrillada — piled high with chargrilled quail, four jumbo shrimp, beef and chicken fajitas, and short ribs. A cheese-stuffed poblano pepper gilds the lily.

1511 Airline Dr
Houston, TX 77009

6. The Original Ninfa's on Navigation

2704 Navigation Blvd, Houston, TX 77003

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. Credited with introducing the country to fajitas, it’s vital to try the sizzling dish at least once, but make room for the classic enchiladas, available a la carte, and the Ninfarita, Ninfa’s signature margarita, made with Espolon Blanco Tequila, fresh-squeezed lime juice, agave nectar, and Cointreau.

2704 Navigation Blvd
Houston, TX 77003

7. El Tiempo Cantina

2814 Navigation Blvd, Houston, TX 77003

Launched by the same family that brought Houston the Original Ninfas, El Tiempo is similarly known for its potent agave tequila margaritas and its sizzling fajitas. Choose between the standard beef, chicken, spicy shrimp or veggie fajitas, or up the experience with the melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon, the salmon fajitas with a mango chimichurri, or the spicy ahi tuna, seared with sesame seed crust and topped with a light mole sauce. Take it to the next level with fajita add-ons, like the “durango” (bacon, tomato, jalapeno, and cilantro), or “la tana,” a mixture of serrano peppers, garlic, and cheese.

2814 Navigation Blvd
Houston, TX 77003

8. Xochi

1777 Walker St, Houston, TX 77010
Tacos de Chicharron crispy pork belly, blue corn tortilla, refritos, pickled red onion, salsa martajada.
Xochi dishes out upscale and inventive Mexican fare, like the tacos de chicharron, which envelopes crispy pork belly into blue corn tortillas with a side of refritos.
Bill Addison/Eater

Chef Hugo Ortega’s love letter to Oaxaca translates into dishes like pork rib memelas, wood-roasted octopus served over masa pancakes, and delicious small plates that are supposed to be for sharing. Larger appetites might call for larger plates like the bistec con mole de Chicatana, a Prime rib-eye served with ant mole, or the enchiladas. Solidify the experience with a “pretty” mezcal or beer cocktail.

1777 Walker St
Houston, TX 77010

9. Hugo's

1600 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006
entrance of Hugo’s covered in greenery.
Hugo’s welcomes diners to experience its playful approach to Mexican cuisine.
Bill Addison

This inventive restaurant is known for its playful renditions of Mexican classics. (Think: squash soup, duck tostadas, and two types of mole.) The agave-roasted barbacoa has earned accolades, but for a truly unique dining experience, try the chapulines — crispy fried grasshoppers served with guacamole and tortillas.

1600 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006

10. Little Pappasito's Cantina

2536 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77098

A part of the Pappas franchise, Pappasito’s Cantina has been serving up Tex-Mex fare since the 1970s, and it’s fair to say they know what Houstonians like. Homemade tortilla chips with warm red salsa come complimentary, but appetizers like chicharrones con queso or the sweet and spicy ribs are worthy starters. And while the tacos and enchiladas are fool-proof options — here, the fajitas are the star of the show. Choose between the tender steak — typically cooked medium, the well-seasoned chicken, the grilled quail, or shrimp options. Can’t choose? Get a platter with a sample of each, and seal the experience with a tres leches.

2536 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77098

11. Candente

4306 Yoakum Blvd, Houston, TX 77006
Candente’s brisket nachos topped with pickled red onion and chopped white onion.
With brisket nachos, brisket tacos, and a 9-ounce ribeye topped with two enchiladas, Candente offers Mexican food with Texas barbecue swag.
Candente

Using smoked and grilled proteins from its sister restaurant, the Pit Room, Candente offers Mexican food with Texas barbecue swag. In addition to traditional Tex-Mex items, there’s brisket enchiladas; brisket nachos; ceviche, made with redfish, shrimp, and scallops; and the Tampiquena for when steak night calls. The signature dish includes a 9-ounce prime rib-eye topped with two cheese enchiladas, grilled onions, and chili-lime butter. If dabbling in a drink or two, don’t leave without purchasing a margarita — frozen or on the rocks — in original, blood orange, strawberry, mango, or prickly pear flavors.

4306 Yoakum Blvd
Houston, TX 77006

12. Picos Restaurant

3601 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77098

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. A case in point is the chili en nogada — a roasted poblano pepper, stuffed with pork, fruit, and nuts and smothered in pomegranates and walnut cream.

3601 Kirby Dr
Houston, TX 77098

13. 100% Taquito

3245 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77027

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 jalapeno slaw that really makes these sandwiches sing.

3245 Southwest Fwy
Houston, TX 77027

14. M&M Grill

6921 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77021

Thanks to Houston's endlessly diverse community, this quick-service spot serves up excellent Mediterranean Tex-Mex fare made with halal meats. Wake up early for its breakfast burritos, or opt for the fajitas if visiting later.

6921 Almeda Rd
Houston, TX 77021

15. Pancho's Meat Market

7001 Long Dr, Houston, TX 77087

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 to 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 and a side of menudo.

7001 Long Dr
Houston, TX 77087

Related Maps

16. Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen {The Original}

2202 Broadway St, Pearland, TX 77581

Gringo’s features around a dozen locations across the Houston area, but if you’re interested in seeing where it all began, head to the original spot in Pearland. Each outpost showcases Old West meets Mexican art and antiques while delivering Tex-Mex favorites like taquitos, grilled seafood, and some of the best fajitas and margaritas Houston has to offer. If you’re feeling festive, try the star-spangled banner — a combination of strawberry and lime margarita, swirled with blue curacao, or the sparkler — a margarita of your choice topped with Korbel brut champagne. End your visit with the complimentary soft-serve ice cream.

2202 Broadway St
Pearland, TX 77581

Related Maps