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A spread of dishes at Mitica, a new Mexican restaurant that opened in Greenpoint this week.
Mitica in Greenpoint comes from the team behind Mariscos El Submarino.
Cole Saladino/Eater NY

NYC’s Essential Mexican Restaurants

Where to find the city’s best mariscos, mole, birria, and barbacoa

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Mitica in Greenpoint comes from the team behind Mariscos El Submarino.
| Cole Saladino/Eater NY

Not so long ago New York’s Mexican restaurant scene was dominated by sizzling fajitas, cheese enchiladas, and nachos, but the city now boasts restaurants specializing in many types of Mexican food. That shift can be credited in part to the severe 10-year drought that plagued the Mexican state of Puebla, forcing residents to relocate here, and immigrants from Guerrero, Morelos, Michoacán, and Mexico City soon followed. New York City is now home to an impressive array of Mexican establishments, from tiny taquerias to full-blown restaurants, featuring regional fare from Yucatan to Sinaloa. Greenpoint seems to be the new hot spot.

Here’s our collection of New York’s essential Mexican restaurants, including many classics as well as newer spots appearing on this list for the first time.

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Taqueria Sinaloense

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While much Mexican food in New York comes from the southern part of the country, Taqueria Sinaloense pulls from Sinaloa, a coastal state situated in the northwest. The restaurant opened in Marble Hill in 2018, specializing in tacos, including tacos de canasta (“basket tacos”) filled with chorizo and grilled cheese and dipped in oil to keep them fresh, often sold by vendors or taken on picnics; and tacos gobernador, lusciously filled with shrimp and fresh chiles.

A white bowl of red pozole with onion and bobbing bits of meat, next to a plate full of tacos overflowing with shrimp.
A bowl of red pozole next to tacos gobernador.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

La Morada

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This small cafe in Mott Haven has succeeded in popularizing the food of Oaxaca at a reasonable price point, while also serving as a center of social activism under chef Natalia Mendez and family. Choose any of the colorful moles — negro, blanco, verde, and others — or a pambazo sandwich with chorizo and potato. Flautas, tostadas, and other antojitos are available, and we’re partial to the hand-patted tlacoyos.

A table with plates of rice and beans, green and red moles, and other Mexican dishes.
Red, green, black, and white moles abound at La Morada.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Cazuela Mexicana

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This modest spot on a side street in East Harlem has been overlooked by almost everyone, yet produces excellent southern Mexican fare, mainly antojitos like picaditas, quesadillas, tacos, and gorditas (potato and chorizo is a favorite filling). The semi-subterranean dining room is pleasantly decorated, making a great secluded date spot, and jars of freshly squeezed juices are colorfully displayed.

A walk-down store with a black and white prominent sign.
Cazuela Mexicana in East Harlem.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Taco Mix

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This Pueblan taqueria owned by Alejo Sanchez specializes in al pastor, as is probably evident from the giant pineapple-topped cone of pork swirling in the window. Get the mini taco, by all means: The tortillas are better and show off the meat with a few shards of fruit to greater advantage. And carefully survey the vast choice of condiments along the eating shelf, which include various salsas as well as dried, fresh, and pickled chiles.

Tacos at Taco Mix Lower East Side.
Taco Mix specializes in al pastor.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

El Mitote

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El Mitote, named after an Aztec dance, partly focuses on the street food of owner Cristina Castaneda’s native Guadalajara, but there’s also classic Mexican fare from around the country. An early afternoon brunch served every day might include wild mushroom tinga tacos, huevos rancheros or chilaquiles, and a stunning bowl of red chicken pozole that’s every bit as spicy as it looks, served with a crema-painted tostada on the side.

A bowl of bright red soup with a slice of green avocado floating in it, and a tostada on a side plate.
The red chicken pozole at El Mitote.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Parada 47

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Parada 47 is a neighborhood Mexican restaurant that opens every day at 10 a.m., making it a great destination for late breakfast or all-week brunch. The chiliquiles are something of a signature, topped with fried eggs and a choice or meats — or none at all. Another good choice is a version of chili con carne with beans, a dish unknown in Mexico itself.

A plate of chips, green sauce, and fried eggs.
Chilaquiles at Parada 47 in Hell’s Kitchen.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Tulcingo Del Valle

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The mother of all Puebla bodega taquerias is Hell’s Kitchen’s Tulcingo del Valle, name-checking a town in the southern part of the state and offering a full menu ranging from goat barbacoa to pork ribs in salsa verde. It’s also one of the best places in town to score a chile relleno, stuffed with cheese and smothered in a sprightly tomato sauce. Keep your eye on chalkboard specials. It’s owned and operated by Irma Verdejo and family.

A cheese stuff chile flooded with tomato sauce, alongside rice and beans.
The chile relleno at Tulcingo Del Valle.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ruta Oaxaca

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With a vibrant design featuring the color pink and a bar emphasizing mezcal and tequila, Ruta Oaxaca is one of the city’s best evocations of the cuisine of the southern Mexican state. Moles come in a rainbow of colors, whose history goes back to pre-Columbian times, and you can’t go wrong with the chicken bunuelos, served in a pool of dark mole Oaxaca, or the brighter mole coloradito, poured over a steak with melted chihuahua cheese.

A pitcher poised over a fish filet pouring on green sauce.
Fish with mole verde at Ruta Oaxaca.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Cielito

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Cielito is basically a night spot and cocktail lounge that happens to serve an amazing Sinaloan menu that includes dishes hard to find in NYC, including tacos of eggs and machaca — the dried beef of the Sonoran Desert, tacos gobernador, and red aguachile served as is conventional in seaside stands with soda crackers.

Three flour-tortilla tacos filled with bright red shredded meat.
Chilorio tacos on flour tortillas, a signature of Sinaloan cooking.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Mariscos El Submarino

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This small storefront with a yellow mustached submarine for a mascot rolled into Jackson Heights in 2020, changing the game where Mexican seafood is concerned. Its aguachiles — fiery baths of shrimp, fish, and octopus — are unrivaled. They come served in a molcajete, the volcano-stone vessels traditionally used to grind spices and make guacamole, with enough seafood to share. Try the aguachile negro, spicy as hell and seasoned with Maggi. The team opened a sibling restaurant, Mitica, earlier this year, in Williamsburg.

The aguachile negro at Mariscos El Submarino in Jackson Heights comes served out of a hulking molcajete.
The aguachile negro at Mariscos El Submarino.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

El Gallo Negro III

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This brand new branch of a taqueria — with indoor and outdoor seating and a lively carryout trade — has a surprisingly broad menu. Taco fillings run to all the usual, plus gelatinous pig feet, and tacos arabes — carnitas rolled in a thick flour tortilla something like a pita and dabbed with creamy chipotle sauce, and altogether delicious. There are two other branches in Queens.

A glistening rolled taco sticking up with meat visible at the top.
Taco arabe at El Gallo Negro in Long Island City.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

La Estancia de la Espiga

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When the weekend rolls around, Mexican food fans are faced with the perpetual question of where to get great lamb or goat barbacoa. At the time of writing, La Estancia de la Espiga is the best answer. Watch the twin meats steam in the window, then grab a seat in the semi-subterranean dining room, filled with families from Guerrero, where proprietor Tomás Gonzalez is from. A pound of goat comes with a pile of fresh, hand-pressed tortillas, chopped cilantro and onions, lemon wedges, radishes, and salsas.

On a green plate, a giant hunk of meat with onions and cilantro, and a side plate of tortillas.
A plate of lamb barbacoa at La Estancia de la Espiga.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Taqueria Coatzingo

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This taqueria run by Rufino Zapata and his family has been a beacon for Pueblan food in Jackson Heights for over two decades. “Taqueria” is perhaps too modest a term, since the current establishment occupies two storefronts, one of which doubles as a bar and dance hall. The cemitas are made on bread baked in the restaurant’s own panaderia. This is one of the city’s best and most reasonably priced Mexican restaurants.

Three cone shaped tacos with guacamole spilling out and chiles and radishes on the side.
Tacos spill over with guacamole and chiles at Taqueria Coatzingo.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Birria-Landia

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When this truck pulled up to 78th Street on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights in 2019, it was laden with beef birria tacos prepared in the style of Tijuana. Years later, there are still just four items on the menu — tacos, mulitas, tostadas, and cups of consomé — that draw crowds late into the night. The truck is operated by José Moreno, former chef at Del Posto, and his brother Jesús, who have since opened locations in Fordham Manor, Williamsburg, and the Lower East Side.

A corn tortilla is dipped into rendered beef fat, giving it an orange hue. Several other tortillas wait on the grill next to it.
The truck’s corn tortillas are dipped in rendered beef fat before heading onto the grill.
Christian Rodriguez/Eater NY

Casa Enrique

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Casa Enrique is New York’s first Mexican restaurant to earn a Michelin star, and it remains one of the city’s most affordable options in that category. Run by chef Cosme Aguilar, the menu includes cochinito Chiapaneco (pork ribs marinated in a bright red guajillo chile sauce), red pozole soup, and other dishes from his hometown of Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state.

Black beans, yellow rice, and some bright red pork ribs in thick sauce.
Cochinito Chiapeneco, pork ribs that have been marinated in a sauce of guajillo chiles.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Los Tacos No. 1

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Los Tacos No. 1 is a corrugated metal structure within Chelsea Market that draws long lines at lunch and dinner. Fresh flour and corn tortillas form the basis for pork adobada tacos, which will remind you of the pineapple-tenderized al pastor of Puebla. The beach favorite of grilled steak (carne asada) is also available, and either filling can be used to make a double-tortilla mula, gluing its tortillas together with cheese. Other are locations in Times Square, Grand Central, Noho, and Tribeca.

<span data-author="-1">A corn tortilla holds a mountain of grilled pork, pineapple, and salsa.</span>
An adobado taco at Los Tacos No. 1.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Mitica appeared this year as the surprising offshoot of the Jackson Heights hit El Submarino. The Greenpoint newcomer is a more ambitious establishment, billed as a Mexican steakhouse (though there’s only one steak on the short menu). Still, that steak is a doozy, a giant tomahawk served with grilled turnips and green chiles, and a galaxy of green herbs. Other meaty choices include a pork shank braised in dried red chiles.

A round plate with pink steak and greens.
Mitica’s epic tomahawk steak.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Taqueria Ramirez

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Taqueria Ramirez landed on a quiet side street of Greenpoint in late 2021, lighting up the neighborhood with a menu of meats stewed in a bubbling choricera. The taqueria has become as well known for its suadero (a thin strip of muscle between the ribs of a cow that’s chopped into taco meat) as its lines, which extend out the door and toward Franklin Street most days. The team also has a stand nearby where they serve al pastor burgers inside of the dive bar the Mallard Drake.

A gloved hands hold a sieve of crumbly red meat over a vat of orange fat and oil, also filled with other meats
Meats are plucked from a bubbling choricera at Taqueria Ramirez.
Adam Friedlander/Eater NY

Lupe's East L.A. Kitchen

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For homesick Angelinos and San Franciscans, New York boasts a couple of Cal-Mex spots, foremost of which is Lupe’s East L.A. Kitchen, where you can get cheese enchiladas in chile colorado, rolled potato taquitos, chile verde, and a full range of bulbous Mission burritos, an invention of San Francisco. This restaurant with a trippy diner setting and views of Sixth Avenue is operated by David Seixas. 

Potato stuffed taquitos snowed with cheese and sided with salad, yellow rice, and black beans.
Rolled potato taquitos at Lupe’s East L.A. Kitchen.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Fueled by mezcal and the thump of reggaeton from a live DJ, Aldama is the closest thing Brooklyn has to the late-night restaurants and bars of Mexico City. Make a reservation for dinner — when dutifully constructed tacos al pastor and plates of vegan mole shine — or arrive later at night on weekends, when bartenders addle customers with frozen cocktails and small cups of tequila. The spot comes from owner Chris Reyes and chef Gerardo Alcaraz.

A shot from outside Aldama shows patrons enjoying dinner inside the warmly lit bar room.
The front room at Aldama.
Gary He/Eater NY

Sobre Masa

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Sobre Masa has shapeshifted more than once since opening in Brooklyn in 2020. The restaurant from Zack Wangeman started as a cafe in Williamsburg with breakfast tacos and some next-level conchas, before relocating to this address in Bushwick, where it operated as a taqueria in the back of a tortilla mill. The menu has grown to include sweet potato ceviche and chicken enchiladas blanketed in red mole. Tortillas are milled and made in-house.

A hand plucks a tortilla from a stack of yellow tortillas. Beside it, two stacks of dark blue tortillas rest on a steel grate.
Sobre Masa doubles as a tortilleria.
Adam Friedlander/Eater NY

For All Things Good

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Few restaurants have been able to popularize the foods of Oaxaca like For All Things Good, a Mexican restaurant from proprietor Matthew Diaz, who has since opened a second location in Williamsburg. Grains imported from Mexico are nixtamalized in-house and ground into masa used to make triangular tetelas and miniature tlayudas in various colors. Round out a meal with an iced horchata or atole. Though known for brunch, the team operates a bar at night.

A trio of tetelas, blue red and yellow, sit on a white plate next to piles of red and green salsa
Tetelas come in a variety of colors at For All Things Good.
Gary He/Eater NY

Antojitos del Patron Mexican Snacks

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Part of a cluster of three restaurants on the same block owned by a pair of Guatemalan sisters, Brenda Castellanos and Ana Prince, Antojitos del Patron is a cozy cafe offering homestyle, corn-based Mexican food. Steamed in a banana leaf, the Oaxacan tamale is magnificent, a massive cylinder of masa drenched in a chunky pork sauce. Specialty tacos available include tacos de calabacitas, made with zucchini and corn kernels.

A thick burrito smothered in tomato sauce and pork chunks.
An unsheathed Oaxacan tamal at Antojitos del Patron.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Tacos El Bronco

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By now everyone knows to get the tiny tripe tacos at this amazing taco truck that parks opposite the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot, a stone’s throw from the Green-Wood Cemetery in Sunset Park. Note that the tripe here is not of the honeycomb variety, but is instead made from veal intestines. Both substances are equally good in a taco. Otherwise, steer in the direction of goat, calf tongue, veal head, or pork skin.

A takeout container filled with green onions and a few double-wrapped tacos with vegetable and meat fillings.
Tacos, cucumber slices, and a bulbous green onion overflow from a takeout container.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Don Pepe Tortas Y Jugos

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Opened in 2003, Don Pepe presaged an era when the Mexican sandwiches called tortas were super-sized and rendered glamorous as massive feeds for any meal. Dozens upon dozens of sandwiches are offered, often bearing the names of Mexican states or foreign countries and laden with multiple meats. Juices are another focus of this rollicking cafe that also offers antojitos in an orange-colored dining room.

The Mexican sandwich called the torta, loaded down with multiple meats, string cheese, avocado, jalapenos, and many more ingredients.
An overflowing torta from Don Pepe Tortas Y Jugos.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The King of Fish

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Also known as El Rey Del Pescado, and related to another taqueria called The King of Beef right across the street, this potentate concentrates on Baja and Sinaloan seafood, with most of it — including fish, shrimp, and octopus — on some of the best tortillas in Brooklyn. Dishes like shrimp aguachile are also well worth trying, in an abundance of green drinkable marinade.

Molcajete filled with green liquid and shrimp.
Shrimp aguachile verde.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Taqueria Sinaloense

While much Mexican food in New York comes from the southern part of the country, Taqueria Sinaloense pulls from Sinaloa, a coastal state situated in the northwest. The restaurant opened in Marble Hill in 2018, specializing in tacos, including tacos de canasta (“basket tacos”) filled with chorizo and grilled cheese and dipped in oil to keep them fresh, often sold by vendors or taken on picnics; and tacos gobernador, lusciously filled with shrimp and fresh chiles.

A white bowl of red pozole with onion and bobbing bits of meat, next to a plate full of tacos overflowing with shrimp.
A bowl of red pozole next to tacos gobernador.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

La Morada

This small cafe in Mott Haven has succeeded in popularizing the food of Oaxaca at a reasonable price point, while also serving as a center of social activism under chef Natalia Mendez and family. Choose any of the colorful moles — negro, blanco, verde, and others — or a pambazo sandwich with chorizo and potato. Flautas, tostadas, and other antojitos are available, and we’re partial to the hand-patted tlacoyos.

A table with plates of rice and beans, green and red moles, and other Mexican dishes.
Red, green, black, and white moles abound at La Morada.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Cazuela Mexicana

This modest spot on a side street in East Harlem has been overlooked by almost everyone, yet produces excellent southern Mexican fare, mainly antojitos like picaditas, quesadillas, tacos, and gorditas (potato and chorizo is a favorite filling). The semi-subterranean dining room is pleasantly decorated, making a great secluded date spot, and jars of freshly squeezed juices are colorfully displayed.

A walk-down store with a black and white prominent sign.
Cazuela Mexicana in East Harlem.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Taco Mix

This Pueblan taqueria owned by Alejo Sanchez specializes in al pastor, as is probably evident from the giant pineapple-topped cone of pork swirling in the window. Get the mini taco, by all means: The tortillas are better and show off the meat with a few shards of fruit to greater advantage. And carefully survey the vast choice of condiments along the eating shelf, which include various salsas as well as dried, fresh, and pickled chiles.

Tacos at Taco Mix Lower East Side.
Taco Mix specializes in al pastor.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

El Mitote

El Mitote, named after an Aztec dance, partly focuses on the street food of owner Cristina Castaneda’s native Guadalajara, but there’s also classic Mexican fare from around the country. An early afternoon brunch served every day might include wild mushroom tinga tacos, huevos rancheros or chilaquiles, and a stunning bowl of red chicken pozole that’s every bit as spicy as it looks, served with a crema-painted tostada on the side.

A bowl of bright red soup with a slice of green avocado floating in it, and a tostada on a side plate.
The red chicken pozole at El Mitote.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Parada 47

Parada 47 is a neighborhood Mexican restaurant that opens every day at 10 a.m., making it a great destination for late breakfast or all-week brunch. The chiliquiles are something of a signature, topped with fried eggs and a choice or meats — or none at all. Another good choice is a version of chili con carne with beans, a dish unknown in Mexico itself.

A plate of chips, green sauce, and fried eggs.
Chilaquiles at Parada 47 in Hell’s Kitchen.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Tulcingo Del Valle

The mother of all Puebla bodega taquerias is Hell’s Kitchen’s Tulcingo del Valle, name-checking a town in the southern part of the state and offering a full menu ranging from goat barbacoa to pork ribs in salsa verde. It’s also one of the best places in town to score a chile relleno, stuffed with cheese and smothered in a sprightly tomato sauce. Keep your eye on chalkboard specials. It’s owned and operated by Irma Verdejo and family.

A cheese stuff chile flooded with tomato sauce, alongside rice and beans.
The chile relleno at Tulcingo Del Valle.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ruta Oaxaca

With a vibrant design featuring the color pink and a bar emphasizing mezcal and tequila, Ruta Oaxaca is one of the city’s best evocations of the cuisine of the southern Mexican state. Moles come in a rainbow of colors, whose history goes back to pre-Columbian times, and you can’t go wrong with the chicken bunuelos, served in a pool of dark mole Oaxaca, or the brighter mole coloradito, poured over a steak with melted chihuahua cheese.

A pitcher poised over a fish filet pouring on green sauce.
Fish with mole verde at Ruta Oaxaca.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Cielito

Cielito is basically a night spot and cocktail lounge that happens to serve an amazing Sinaloan menu that includes dishes hard to find in NYC, including tacos of eggs and machaca — the dried beef of the Sonoran Desert, tacos gobernador, and red aguachile served as is conventional in seaside stands with soda crackers.

Three flour-tortilla tacos filled with bright red shredded meat.
Chilorio tacos on flour tortillas, a signature of Sinaloan cooking.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Mariscos El Submarino

This small storefront with a yellow mustached submarine for a mascot rolled into Jackson Heights in 2020, changing the game where Mexican seafood is concerned. Its aguachiles — fiery baths of shrimp, fish, and octopus — are unrivaled. They come served in a molcajete, the volcano-stone vessels traditionally used to grind spices and make guacamole, with enough seafood to share. Try the aguachile negro, spicy as hell and seasoned with Maggi. The team opened a sibling restaurant, Mitica, earlier this year, in Williamsburg.

The aguachile negro at Mariscos El Submarino in Jackson Heights comes served out of a hulking molcajete.
The aguachile negro at Mariscos El Submarino.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

El Gallo Negro III

This brand new branch of a taqueria — with indoor and outdoor seating and a lively carryout trade — has a surprisingly broad menu. Taco fillings run to all the usual, plus gelatinous pig feet, and tacos arabes — carnitas rolled in a thick flour tortilla something like a pita and dabbed with creamy chipotle sauce, and altogether delicious. There are two other branches in Queens.