Rene Ortiz, 36, La Condesa

San Antonio—raised boy made it big in New York (Patria, La Esquina); his suave Latin American fare is now turning heads in Austin. EAT HIS: duck in mole negro.

Markus Pineyro, 28, Urban Taco

Co-owner of the expanding chain was born in Mexico City; got bright idea to refashion its street food into nibbles for chic Dallasites. EAT HIS: rotisserie-spit tacos al pastor.

Johnny Hernandez, 41,
La Gloria Icehouse

Prowled Mexico seeking best street food (and finest tequila); brought ideas home to delight his fellow San Antonians. EAT HIS: panucho de cochinita pibil (gordita filled with marinated pork).

Hugo & Ruben Ortega, 45 & 39, Hugo’s

Brothers grew up poor in Puebla, Mexico; landed in the U.S. in the eighties; now run Houston’s most authentic and innovative Mexican restaurant. EAT THEIR: mole poblano & churros rellenos (filled with dulce de leche).

Beto Gutierrez, 34, La Posada Hotel

Honed his chops in Austin at the Driskill and Four Seasons hotels; went home to Laredo to tackle complex, demanding Mexican recipes. EAT HIS: crispy lengua.

Lanny Lancarte II, 35, Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana

Scion of Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican food clan in Fort Worth; did a 180 and opened own place doing classic Latin dishes with a Mediterranean edge. EAT HIS: quail tamales with mole poblano.