My fellow Texans, the state of our tacos is strong. But first, a recap. In my “Ultimate Texas Tacopedia,” published in November 2020, I chronicled the diversity of tacos and the remarkable resilience of the taquerias that continued to sell them amid a pandemic. I found tortilla-based businesses getting creative in not only how they served their customers (even high-end Mexican restaurants pivoted to takeout taco kits) but in what they served (many spots stayed open by doubling down on Instagram trends, such as the suddenly ubiquitous birria, usually in the form of an orange-hued, cheesy-shelled taco full of chile-braised beef and served with consommé for dipping). 

We’ve lost treasures since then (RIP Taco Stop, in Dallas, and Trill Taqueria, in Austin), but we’ve also seen a surprising number of newcomers. So many, in fact, that we decided to offer this midterm report in advance of our next roundup of best taquerias, old and new, which is scheduled for 2024. 

As I’ve traveled the state these past two years, I’ve found that in rural areas, regional traditions endure even as they slowly open to innovation. In the Rio Grande Valley, for example, Ana Liz Pulido is using fresh corn tortillas in a community strongly predisposed to flour. In our big cities, creativity abounds. The cooks at El Charlatan, just outside El Paso, are melding ramen and nixtamalized tortillas. Meanwhile, hyper-regional styles, such as tacos estilo Matamoros—featuring grilled beef, queso fresco, and avocado inside an oil-basted corn tortilla—have gained footholds far outside their places of origin.

One of the biggest surprises is that, finally, Austin tacos are earning the praise long heaped on them by out-of-towners and media personalities who mistook stylish mediocrity for regional excellence. Until recently, the best Austin taqueros told me that if they wanted great tacos that weren’t theirs, they’d have to drive to San Antonio. “We know Austin tacos are not at that level yet,” says Luis Robledo, owner of Cuantos Tacos. But that sorry situation may soon be a thing of the past. 

No longer are taquerias at the top of their game confined to the pork-beef-chicken trinity. Yes, you can still get delectable carne asada and traditional al pastor, but the notions about what makes a good taco have changed, with a dramatic shift toward specialization of fillings (Querétaro-style maguey-leaf-wrapped barbacoa, anyone?) and, most important, the craftsmanship of the tortilla. Those made through a process called nixtamalization—an ancient Mesoamerican technique that results in an intensely flavorful, nutrient-rich product—are becoming the goal, if not the norm. 

The 25 taquerias featured here, in alphabetical order by city, offer outstanding examples of new establishments that are both honoring tradition and pushing boundaries. All either moved from a temporary to a permanent space or opened after I wrapped up the Tacopedia, and I visited most of them multiple times. The number of taquerias featured in each city is not necessarily a measure of the comparative quality of tacos in that location as opposed to others. Rather, it reflects the increase in high-quality newcomers, which is influenced by several factors, particularly population growth (hello, Austin). I hope this roundup will inspire you to try new taquerias in your hometown and also hit the road to taste the exciting innovations in this ancient, ever-evolving cuisine. 


Con Todo 

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: Ask about paletas topped with a nose-tickling salsa macha.

There was a time one had to trek to the Rio Grande Valley city of Brownsville for tacos estilo Matamoros, so named for the metropolis right across the border. A hyper-regional treat often served in orders of five or six, the preparation features a small, oil-bathed corn tortilla bearing chopped bistec (or other beef cuts); a sprinkling of queso fresco, onion, and cilantro; and a thin slice of avocado. Now tacos estilo Matamoros can be found in more locations across Texas, including Austin, where Los Fresnos–raised Joseph Gomez has made his trailer, stationed at Celis Brewery, a major player. Of course, Gomez adds his own spin, using only nixtamalized corn tortillas and replacing the traditional avocado wedge with guacamole. Another notable menu item is an homage to a specialty at Brownsville stalwart (and a Gomez favorite for late-night munchies) Bigos Bar & Grill: the alambres taco (or “wire” taco, a name derived from the kebab-skewered meats enjoyed by early Middle Eastern immigrants to Mexico) is an expertly prepared amalgamation of carne asada, griddled peppers (Gomez substitutes bacon), and sizzling white cheese crisped up like a costra. Celis Brewery, 10001 Metric Blvd. Open Wed–Fri 3–10, Sat & Sun 12–9. 

The pescado a la plancha (in the red basket) and crispy tacos (in the green basket) at De Nada in Austin.
The barbacoa, pescado a la plancha, and crispy tacos at De Nada, in Austin.Photograph by Arturo Olmos

De Nada Cantina

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: Beware the crazy-strong margaritas.

Walking into this East Austin establishment is like walking into a Tex-Mex palace of yore. A fountain burbles quietly at the center of the main dining room, and rancho-inspired metal chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Colorful seating and Mexican beer–branded tables give De Nada a splashy “watering hole in Mexico City” edge. Meanwhile, the restaurant’s name, which translates to “you’re welcome” or “it’s nothing,” is reflected in the friendly service. The vibrant pink menu is heavy on margaritas, but enchiladas and combination plates are nowhere to be found. Here, the emphasis is on straightforward blue-corn and yellow-corn tortillas cradling preparations both traditional, such as pescado a la plancha, and novel, such as mushroom picadillo that’s a dead ringer for the real thing. Perhaps best of all is the crispy taco. The grease-free throwback to old-school Tex-Mex has a delightful crunch and is equally good with the mushroom picadillo or the full-flavored ground beef. 4715 E. Cesar Chavez, 512-615-3555. Open Mon–Sat 11–12, Sun 11–10.


La Santa Barbacha

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: Wash down your meal with a milkshake-like strawberry horchata.

Offering traditional Mexican barbacoa with Texas swagger, siblings Daniela, Uriel, and Rosa de Lima Hernández opened their small trailer, just east of I-35, to honor their father, Marcos Hernández, and mother, Alicia Landaverde, masters of the trademark preparation of their hometown of Querétaro, Mexico. Angus beef is the only protein available, and it’s served on some form of fresh masa, such as the popular palm-size sope. A swoosh of refried beans holds in place thick, short ropes of beef braised in maguey (agave) leaves, whose vegetal notes linger in the aroma. The fetching strands of beef are then loaded with queso fresco, crema, microgreens, and a fan of thinly sliced avocado. Tortillas include unadulterated yellow corn as well as a red version made with beets and a green one made with spinach. The stunner taco is the Benito (named for a Catholic saint, not Bad Bunny), in which refried beans, barbacoa, and chicharrón mingle inside a corn tortilla (in the color of your choosing); it’s by turns crunchy and chewy, and the textural acrobatics continue with a heavy shower of queso fresco and a wave of delicate avocado slices. 807 E. 4th, 737-209-0455. Open Wed–Sun 9–5. 

Edgar Yepez, Luis Fernando Baes, and Sonia López opened their South Congress food truck Los Danzantes ATX in 2021.
Edgar Yepez, Luis Fernando Baes, and Sonia López at their South Austin food truck, Los Danzantes ATX. Photograph by Brittany Conerly
Birria tacos at Los Danzantes ATX, in Austin.
Birria tacos at Los Danzantes ATX. Photograph by Brittany Conerly

Los Danzantes ATX

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: Try the chascas, a regional specialty of Aguascalientes that pairs fresh-corn elotes in a cup with a block of rich bone marrow.

What dancers Edgar Yepez, Luis Fernando Baes, and Sonia López can do with movement at Yepez’s Ballet Folklórico de Austin they replicate at their South Congress food truck, parked in the backyard of the Far Out Lounge & Stage. Expect a roster of regional delights, particularly specialties of their respective hometowns, such as a mouth-coating Jalisciense birria de res and a crispy Oaxacan tlayuda topped with swirls of refried beans seasoned with herbaceous avocado leaves, chunky chorizo, and milky quesillo. 8504 S. Congress Ave, 512-705-3621. Open Mon, Thurs, Fri & Sat 6–9:30, Sun 10:30–3.



Year opened: 2020
Pro tip: Try the sweet potato taco, served with a fiery salsa featuring pecans and golden raisins.

Trailer co-owner and taquero Brandon Martin leads the neo-Tex-Mex wave in Austin with a crunchy taco that evokes its predecessor, the Mexican taco dorado, while still retaining the traditional ground beef, lettuce, onion, and cheese. The taco starts with a nixtamalized tortilla that Martin gracefully moves from the hand-cranked tortilladora to the comal to the fryer. Then he fills the snappy shell with savory crumbles of old-school ground beef picadillo. Each component of the taco is just the right temperature, and every bite is rich with texture and spice, without a trace of grease from the fryer or the orangey oil that often flows from inferior picadillo. Even better, the taco doesn’t disintegrate on you. As the name suggests, Texsueño is a Tex-Mex dream. 2000 E. Cesar Chavez, 512-551-3663. Open Tue–Thur 6–11, Fri & Sat 6–12.


Un Mundo de Sabor

Year opened: 2020
Pro tip: Leave room for the cool, strawberry-topped tres leches cake, made by co-owner and pastry chef Amanda Hernandez.

From a black truck with a Día de los Muertos calavera motif in South Austin, chef and co-owner Luis Mendoza serves one knockout dish after another, using locally sourced tortillas and fillings, such as crunchy kale and woodsy oyster mushrooms. Meaty fillings include house-made barbacoa, carnitas, and carne asada. Of the non-taco items, the enchilada plate is the best. A nod to El Paso, the hometown of both Mendoza and co-owner Amanda Hernandez, the dish features corn tortillas soaked in what Mendoza grew up calling chile colorin. The earthy-red tortillas are then rolled around the regionally preferred Muenster cheese and finished with a flurry of queso fresco, crema, and slices of avocado and pickled habanero onion. It’s a dish of world-silencing greatness. 7800 S. 1st, 512-792-1290. Open Wed–Fri 12–3 & 5–9, Sat 9–3 & 5–8, Sun 9–3.


The Dream Tacos by Chetra

Year opened: 2022
Pro tip: Try the unusual beef Wellington taco, which replaces the tortilla with a flaky pastry square.

A banh mi taco? A tandoori chicken taco? A thit kho taco? Such tortilla-wrapped creations are often regrettable affairs hawked by hipster joints that scoff at being labeled taquerias (even when they have the word “taco” in their name). That is not the case at this suburban Metroplex venue, which opened this summer to our immediate delight. Owner Chetra Chau’s menu is long, but you can’t go wrong with the aforementioned Vietnamese-inspired thit kho, a fresh flour tortilla filled with slow-braised pork topped with pickled vegetables and cellophane noodles. It hits all the right sweet, savory, and umami notes. 2817 Central Dr, 682-503-6373. Open Mon–Sun 11–10.


Milagro Tacos Cantina

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: The french fries smothered in mole poblano make a perfect appetizer.

“It’s called Milagro because it’s a miracle that we’re back,” says owner Jesús Carmona about this Tijuana-style taqueria. His original business, Tacos Mariachi, closed its two locations, one near Trinity Groves and the other on Lower Greenville, during the pandemic. The current iteration occupies a coveted corner space on the south side of Trinity Groves, and it’s hard to miss, with its gold-crowned sacred hearts painted on the shop’s white exterior. Color abounds inside as well, in the tiled bar, the pale blue walls adorned with more sacred hearts, and an Instagram-ready neon pink sign reading “Sin Tacos No Hay Paraíso” (“Without tacos there is no paradise”). The kaleidoscopic feel extends to the menu. A pulpo taco showcases curls of grilled octopus accented with avocado. In the Ensenada Fish Taco, the usual airy batter is replaced with crumbled chicharrones, which adhere to a cut of cod brightened with guacamole, pickled onion, and cabbage. Best of all is the salmon taco, a plump piece of lightly smoked fish wrapped first in a queso asadero costra and then in a tortilla. Next comes a scattering of microgreens and a blanket of crema. 440 Singleton Blvd, 469-872-0168. Open Tue–Sat 11–9, Sun 10:30–4.

Chef Olivia López cooks nopales and onions at Molino Olōyō in Dallas.
Chef Olivia López cooks nopales and onions at Molino Olōyō, in Dallas.Photograph by Brittany Conerly

Molino Olōyō

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: Keep an eye out for breakfast taco pop-ups at Wayward Coffee Co., in Winnetka Heights.

In 2019 Olivia López decided to visit family in Colima, Mexico, and explore her culinary roots. She started by talking with her mother and aunts about regional recipes and preparations, then took a deep dive into the complexities of the corn tortilla, which included visiting a corn purveyor who sold hundreds of non-GMO heirloom varietals. After a stint as chef de cuisine at Victory Park’s Billy Can Can, she put that research to use in July 2021, when she opened Molino Olōyō with her partner in life and business, Jonathan Percival. Together they resolved to offer Dallas a contemporary twist on the best of Mexican culinary tradition from their commercial kitchen in the city’s Design District. There is no dining room, and you’ll need to follow their Instagram account to learn what they’re cooking and where. But it’s so worth it. At their pop-ups—in restaurants, bars, coffee shops—they serve the likes of tacos, quesadillas, and tetelas (triangular corn-masa treats with various stuffings). Their more formal tasting dinners serve as master classes in masa and feature produce from López and Percival’s Pequeño Farms. Finally, takeout dishes are available for preorder and pickup, everything from bluefin aguachile with cantaloupe and cucumber to suadero tacos made from silky confit brisket to crispy, crimson-colored al pastor sliced straight from a trompo, or vertical rotisserie, and packaged with a stack of tortillas so you can build your own tacos. 1025 N. Stemmons Fwy, 469-769-8950. Open Sat & Sun 12–5. 


Revolver Taco Lounge Gastro Cantina

Year opened: 2022
Pro tip: Get your own order of the bite-size cabrito birria wontons. You won’t want to share.

Owner Regino Rojas continues to push himself with this newest venture, which joins the best of the Mexican cantina (traditionally an establishment that serves free eats to customers so long as they continue to order drinks) with his flashy culinary creations. Many of his tacos are also available at the original Revolver Taco Lounge, around the corner, but the cantina-only tacos are where Rojas’s ingenuity is most evident. Witness the fajita norteña, served in a square cast-iron skillet with cakey, three-inch flour tortillas alongside. Or try the pale green chiles rellenos de cochinita pibil, which are meant to be picked up with a tortilla and eaten whole. The best of the bunch is the taco al pastor. Rojas fires up his vertical spit with charcoal, some of which he places under and on the side of the trompo. The result is crimson-lacquered pork that packs a smoky wallop. 2646 Elm, 214-258-5900. Open Sun–Thur 11–11, Fri & Sat 11–1:30 a.m.

El Paso

Birrieria El Güero

Year opened: 2020
Pro tip: The old-school birria comes in a whopping 32-ounce serving.

Since Tijuana-style birria de res, a social media darling, hijacked the minds of Texans, it’s been difficult for those of us who crave the gamier proteins to get the traditional goat (chivo) or classic lamb (borrego). Thankfully we’ve got this trailer in far east El Paso. Note, though, that the non-beef options are available only on weekends (occasional exceptions are announced on Instagram). And they cost more (a plate of four tacos goes for $12), but the knotted strings of chile-infused meat, whose drippings will likely stain your shirt, are absolutely worth it. Just plan to get there early. “It’s first come, first served,” says Leonard Paredes, who owns the trailer with his wife, Carmen. 3800 N. Zaragoza Rd, 915-232-7364. Open Thur & Fri 12–5, Sat & Sun 10–2.

Customers at Taconeta in El Paso order from the patio window and then go inside to enjoy their food.
Outside Taconeta, in El Paso. Photograph by Justin Hamel
A customer carries a tray of food at Taconeta in El Paso.
A tray of food at Taconeta. Photograph by Justin Hamel
El Paso


Year opened: 2020
Pro tip: The sweet potato fries topped with fried kale and salsa macha are a spicy, multi-textured revelation.

Co-owned by El Paso–Juárez natives Alejandro Borunda and Daniel Fox, this downtown shop incorporates colorful tile, giant casement windows, and Mexican breeze blocks. Customers order from the patio window (a feature that saved the taqueria during the pandemic), then go inside to munch on the signature brisket confit suadero laced with a spicy, vermilion-hued salsa macha. Another standard is the cauliflower al pastor, the crucifers slowly roasting on a trompo after being lathered in a mild marinade of green chiles, cilantro, and onions. 311 Montana Ave, 915-303-8038. Open Tue–Sat 11–10.

Fort Worth

Don Artemio

Year opened: 2022
Pro tip: Whatever you order, ask for more tortillas.

After making a splash at the original Don Artemio, in Saltillo, Juan Ramón Cárdenas partnered with his friend and restaurant industry veteran Adrián
Burciaga to expand to Fort Worth. You might recognize Cárdenas from the season two “Cabrito” episode of Netflix’s Taco Chronicles. But he and his staff excel at much more than mesquite-roasted kid, including a 29-day-aged Prime tomahawk steak and salmon in a vibrant pipián verde mole. Helmed by Burciaga and executive chef Rodrigo Cárdenas (Juan Ramón’s son), the restaurant pairs the steakhouse concept with clever takes on Mexican dishes. Among them are the deceptively brittle-looking and richly flavored nopalitos fritos. The soaked, dried, julienned, and fried cactus pads are served as a towering bramble punctuated with large chunks of bacon. A basket of nixtamalized corn tortillas accompanies the small plate. 3268 W. 7th, 817-470-1439. Open Mon–Thur 11–2 & 5–9, Fri 11–2 & 5–10, Sat 11–2:30 & 5–10, Sun 10–3 & 5–9.

Chef Angel Fuentes dines on barrio and mini tacos at Guapo Taco in Fort Worth.
Chef Angel Fuentes dines on birria and mini tacos at Guapo Taco, in Fort Worth. Photograph by Brittany Conerly
Fort Worth

Guapo Taco

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: The green chicken pozole, inspired by a family recipe, is pure comfort.

In 2021 Angel Fuentes split with his partner at Mariachi’s Dine-In when the vegan-friendly gas-station taqueria moved to a larger space. Fuentes then remodeled the original location and gave it a new name (Handsome Taco). There are still plenty of vegan and vegetarian offerings, including a burger, but the standout is the beef cheek barbacoa masquerading as birria. The smooth consommé serves as a wonderful accompaniment, but the taco, featuring barbacoa netted by a mix of Monterey Jack and mozzarella, is more than enough without it. For a variety of tacos, order Los Tres Amigos, a flour tortilla and your choice of protein in three styles: the Guapo, with pickled cabbage and avocado crema; the Latin Lover, with lettuce, tomatoes, and queso; and the Borracho, with habaneros and guajillo crema. 301 S. Sylvania Ave, 682-966-9645. Open Tue–Sat 11–9.

One of the specialties at Chivos in Houston is marrow bones covered in an earthy crust of sesame seeds and morita, ancho, and pasilla chiles on a bed of greens and pickled radishes with a side of grill-toasted tortillas.
At Chivos, in Houston, specialties include marrow bones covered in an earthy crust of sesame seeds and dried chiles and shrimp tom kha with peanut salsa macha.Photograph by Arturo Olmos


Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: Forget arriving as soon as the restaurant opens. Reservations are essential.

This contemporary Mexican restaurant in the Heights neighborhood serves all manner of high-end dishes, from grilled shrimp accompanied by a luscious tomatillo curry to delicate pozole-filled dumplings floating atop a thin pork broth drizzled with nutty salsa macha. But when it comes to tacos, there are two stellar choices. The first is a brunch dish featuring flaky house-made flour tortillas accompanied by truffle butter sprinkled with delicate spheres of orange trout roe. Spread the rich butter on the tortillas, roll them up—they don’t crack—and munch away in an experience that evokes Mexican tacos de nada (sprinkled with salt and rolled) and tacos de manteca (spread with lard). The second standout taco features a marrow bone covered in an earthy crust of sesame seeds and morita, ancho, and pasilla chiles on a bed of greens and pickled radishes with a side of grill-toasted tortillas. Hold the bone vertically over the tortillas to scrape out every last bit of marrow. 222 W. 11th, 832-767-1417. Open Wed–Thur 5–9, Fri & Sat 5–10, Sun 11–3.


Cochinita & Co. 

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: Don’t miss the tamales, made by the owner’s mother, Graciela González.

Victoria Elizondo is indefatigable. The Houston taquera has crafted a successful commercial Mexican food business, selling her zippy salsa macha and spicy trail mix at farmers’ markets. She briefly had a taco truck, and she publishes a cookbook, Taco-tastic, in November. She runs her taqueria from a kitchen inside the Kickin’ Kombucha shop, which is where you’ll find a hit-after-hit menu of tamales, morita mayo–covered crispy potatoes, and a cochinita pibil taco, punchy with achiote and citrus. But it’s the mushroom tinga taco that stands out. Its intense chipotle spice ignites the taste buds, while the lion’s mane and oyster mushrooms provide earthiness and a pleasant, substantial chew. Simply put, it’s one of the best tacos in Houston. Kickin’ Kombucha, 5420 Lawndale, 713-203-3999. Open Mon–Fri 6:30–9, Sat 8–9, Sun 8–4.


Papalo Mercado 

Year opened: 2020
Pro tip: On Saturdays, check out the Urban Harvest Farmers Market, in River Oaks, where this taco purveyor joins forces with coffee company Amanecer to offer pastries and various masa preparations.

Stephanie Velasquez, co-owner of this Finn Hall food counter, calls fellow chef and partner Nicolas Vera’s zanahoria (carrot) taco the most underrated item on their menu. But those who try it once order it again and again. Count me in that camp. The zanahoria is a real looker, with the dark orange from the garlic-confit carrots contrasting with the creamy pipián pumpkin salsa, all of it under a jumble of roasted cauliflower, delicately placed bitter greens (mizuna, arugula), house-made queso fresco, and crunchy pumpkin seeds. Inspired by Vera’s youth in Veracruz, the taco is a miniature Garden of Eden. Finn Hall, 712 Main. Open Mon–Fri 8–5.


Ana Liz Taqueria

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: Fresh flour tortillas are available, but you’re going to want to order the corn.

A woman-owned, nixtamal-focused taqueria is almost unheard of in the flour tortilla–loving Rio Grande Valley. But Ana Liz Pulido is used to pushing boundaries. And though she may be soft-spoken, her food is anything but. A meal at Ana Liz begins with a colorful woven basket full of blue and yellow tostadas giving off the intoxicating aroma of warm corn. The crispy tortillas are presented with a tray of six salsas, including a piquant salsa macha and a cooling, tart crema. The deconstructed chile relleno taco combines a fragrant corn tortilla with the milky comfort of queso blanco, the salty char of chopped carne asada, and the fruitiness of a roasted poblano. 215 N. Conway Ave, 956-591-0655. Open Tue–Sun 2–11.


Taqueria Mi Rancho

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: The taqueria is technically a drive-through, but do like the locals do and park in the lot in front of the seating area and walk to the window to order.

Where else to get ranch-style cooking than from an actual ranch? That’s where this taco purveyor is located, in a small metal structure directly in front of a family residence. Co-owners Rocio Limon-Galvan and her sister-in-law Laura Limon (the taquera and owner of the aforementioned home) serve up lusciously fatty beef cheek barbacoa as well as tacos al pastor: tender twists of marinated and griddled pork popping with chile and spices and capped with gossamer slices of caramelized onion. Don’t miss out on the posito, a tiny, frilly-edged taco shell packed with your protein of choice (we recommend the carne asada), refried beans, and fluffy rice, finished with squiggles of nacho cheese and sour cream. The handheld treat offers a taste of the Tex-Mex of yesteryear. 3372 U.S. 84, 903-723-5037. Open Wed & Thur 10–7, Fri & Sat 10–10, Sun 8–5. 

San Antonio

El Pastor Es Mi Señor

Year opened: 2020
Pro tip: Request your salsa campechano-style, which combines a bit of both the red and the green. 

Chilangos (residents of Mexico City) consider the taco al pastor the king of tacos, and if that rey had a throne in Texas, it would be at this San Antonio taqueria, whose name is a play on Psalm 23, “the Lord is my shepherd.” (“Al pastor” translates to “shepherd-style.”) Co-owned by siblings Alex and Brenda Sarmiento, the taqueria specializes in two preparations: chuletas (grilled and cubed pork chops) and meats grilled on trompos. As delicious as the chuletas are, even several minutes after being served, it’s the two trompos—and what comes off them—that attract the crowds. One rig bears the traditional pork. The other is stacked with no less traditional—but rare for Americans—sirloin. Both meats are charred, juicy stunners, available in platters of mini tacos, cheesy gringas, tortas, volcanes (small, crispy tortilla cups of meat smothered in melted white cheese), and even crunchy tacos. 8727 Wurzbach Rd, 210-479-3474. Open Tue–Thur 4–9 (or sold out), Fri & Sat 4–10 (or sold out).

Chef Jesse Kuykendall (far right) with Anthony Michael Hernandez, Miguel Rodriguez, and Jose Bennett Cueva at Milpa in San Antonio.
Chef Jesse Kuykendall (far right) with Anthony Michael Hernandez, Miguel Rodriguez, and Jose Bennett Cueva at Milpa, in San Antonio.Photograph by Arturo Olmos
San Antonio


Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: In a barbacoa-loving city, Milpa’s vegetarian options—such as a crispy taco dorado filled with cushion-soft potatoes—are a respite.

Chef Jesse Kuykendall grew up in Laredo relishing the cooking of her mother, a native of Guanajuato, Mexico. As an adult, chef Kirk, as she’s known, attended culinary school in San Antonio and later in Oaxaca, where she was exposed to the breathtaking array of Mexican gastronomy beyond the border region. From a freight car near Olmos Park she serves a finger-staining taco de flor de jamaica (hibiscus). A sturdy yet pliant corn tortilla is filled with simmered reddish-purple flowers. The vegetal notes and snappy texture give way to a mild, pleasant bitterness before the microgreens placed atop freshen up the finish. For another rare taste (for Texans, that is), order the tacos arabes, the lightly seasoned Puebla predecessor to the often heavily marinated tacos al pastor. 5253 McCullough Ave, 210-990-2349. Open Wed–Sat 11–3 & 5–9.

San Antonio

Naco 210 Mexican Eatery & Patio

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: The pan dulces are a great way to start a meal.

Husband and wife Francisco Estrada and Lizzeth Martinez opened their taco trailer in 2018. Fortunately, they focused on nixtamalized corn as the basis for their menu, turning out delicious tortillas for tacos and larger dishes, such as chilaquiles. Their subsequent success allowed them to move to a brick-and-mortar spot in Los Patios, a tree-shaded development near the airport that looks sort of like a vintage summer camp. Naco can be difficult to find in the heavily wooded area (it’s in the back, in the former Brazier building), but the search pays off in the form of creative takes on traditional tacos, such as the “porkopus,” in which crimson-colored chicharrón mingles with roughly chopped and griddled octopus, and the Amerinaco, where pleasantly salty carne asada meets sylvan-flavored huitlacoche (an aromatic corn fungus that tastes like mushrooms). 2015 NE I-410 Loop, 210-610-5136. Open Wed–Sun 8–4.

San Antonio

Stixs & Stone

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: Save room for the churro bread pudding with horchata mousse and a gyroscopic drizzle of caramel.

In a city saturated with excellent tacos, Leo Davila distinguishes his strip-mall spot with innovative takes on longtime San Antonio favorites, the most prominent of which is the barbacoa and Big Red taco platter. The nixtamalized corn tortillas are infused with the soda, giving the disks a ruby tint, while the beef-cheek barbacoa is marinated in a guajillo-based adobo and smoked overnight over applewood. Davila then reserves some of the fat from the meat and uses it to finish the barbacoa on a griddle, giving it a slight crispiness. Served in orders of three, each taco gets a cheffy touch with a swipe of pecan pesto and pickled watermelon rinds, additions that evoke the backyard snacks of Davila’s childhood. Naturally, a can of Big Red comes alongside. 5718 Wurzbach Rd, 210-592-1187. Open Wed–Sat 12–9, Sun 10–3.


Burnt Bean Co.

Year opened: 2020
Pro tip: During Fiesta San Antonio, held every April, look for the concha sandwich, a saucy pile of smoked pulled pork and charred pineapple slaw on a squishy concha roll.

On Sundays, this Texas Monthly Top 50 barbecue joint transforms into a Mexican restaurant. The menu, dreamed up by co-owners David Kirkland and Ernest Servantes, is as engaging as the one for their barbecue and includes many of those smoked meats in hearty dishes such as saucy huevos rancheros. They also offer intimidatingly large bowls of menudo and tacos that shine bright with oak-smoked mollejas (sweetbreads), luscious carne guisada, and glistening beef barbacoa. Keep an eye out for dessert tacos, like the fried flour tortilla stuffed with creamy peach cobbler filling. Servantes has said that his Sunday breakfast is “an homage to my parents and to my family down south in Uvalde.” 108 S. Austin. Open Thur–Sat 11–3, Sun 8–3.


El Charlatan

Year opened: 2021
Pro tip: The cheese sampler showcases the creamy quesos asaderos and Chihuahuas made at the more-than-sixty-year-old Licon Dairy, just a few miles down the road.

Raised in the El Paso–Juárez area, Socorro native Enrique Lozano is a man of two worlds. Tack on his deep love and respect for Japanese cooking, and you’ve got a magical melding of seemingly disparate cuisines. Inside nixtamalized tortillas imported from Juárez, morsels of buttermilk-fried, togarashi-seasoned chicken pack a one-two punch with green and red salsas. Order a side of soupy charro beans and finish with the smoked sweet potatoes dressed with candied nuts, miso caramel, and a soy meringue. The atmosphere of the restaurant’s century-old building, situated on the historic El Paso Mission Trail, gives the meal an even more enchanting feel. 10180 Socorro Rd. Open Tue–Sat 3–9, Sun 12–5.

Illustration by Elena Boils

Honorable Mentions

Those hankering for vegan tacos should head to El Rincón de Maíz, in Garland, a half hour drive northeast of downtown Dallas.

Houston’s El Topo pairs natural wines with tacos made with nixtamalized corn.

James & Jon Barbeque is a Beaumont trailer with impressive costra-wrapped burritos called Snooze Buttons.

Small Las Tarascas Taqueria, in Dallas’s Oak Cliff community, serves discada (a blend of chopped meats), which is rarely seen in those parts.

Snack on edible insects at Fabian Saldaña’s Maize, in Houston.

At Miguelonches, in San Antonio, order the frijoles charros—pinto beans stewed with bacon, sliced weenies, onions, and a swirl of cheese—with your tacos.

California transplants who are missing a taste of home should two-step it to R19 Taqueria, in Lakeway, about twenty miles northwest of downtown Austin.

Stop at Taco Canasta, in Irving, fourteen miles northwest of downtown Dallas, for steamed tacos filled with picadillo, mashed potatoes, and more.

Austin’s Ensenada ATX shows Texas how to serve properly battered Baja-style fish tacos.

In Waco, Wako Taco stands out with its namesake taco, a mixture of bistec, chorizo, sliced weenies, chopped bacon, and grilled bell peppers under a lattice of cheese.

This article originally appeared in the November 2022 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “The Top 25 Taquerias.” Subscribe today.