This clean, airy and family-owned spot is open all day, so pop in when the mood strikes to sample their daily specials. Consult the chalkboards for the latest update, then snag a seat at one of the few tables with a view of the grill. Cochinita pibil, shredded pork with sweet achiote spice and creamy black beans, is the very picture of comfort, especially when bested by the warm and toasty tortillas, made in-house, naturally.

This one-time taco truck is now comfortably ensconced in its brick-and-mortar structure in the Arts District. Almost everything on the menu is worthy—from fish tacos with chipotle créma to taquitos stuffed with all the fixings in a baked potato. For a more unusual bite, try the pan-fried potato taquitos with avocado, tomatillo salsa, cotija, and chives; tailed by scallop aguachile with strawberry-morrita oil and serrano.

This landmark Mexican restaurant has packed them in since 1999, cranking out authentic, flavor-forward, elegant food to crowds that just can’t get enough. Inside the cozy dining space, you’ll find a hospitable chef and warm, welcoming service staff. You can’t go wrong on the menu, but heat-seekers should try the chef’s signature sautéed shrimp, a spicy, tail-on shrimp dish served with a chayote gratin and warm, fresh tortillas best dipped in creamy black beans. 

This distinct Oaxacan eatery knows exactly what its culinary mission is—so much so that it is made abundantly clear in everything from its website (ilovemole.com) to the orange façade that announces its presence from blocks away. A grill station fills the room with the scent of blistering peppers and more. Mole estofado is so complex that it is nearly impossible to pick out the ingredients creating such a rich and dark sauce, slathered onto chicken or pork. Everyone gets a taste of mole coloradito, drizzled over gratis chips.

This place is all about Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, and gussied-up Tijuana street food. Pictures of those namesake artists, a colorful dining room and great playlist also make this a fun place to dig into contemporary Mexican fare, with an eye on the humble taco. Don’t forget to try the Baja fish tacos, filled with Negra Modelo beer-battered rockfish, crema, cabbage and pico de gallo. Their tacos, folded with house-made blue corn tortillas, may be a few dollars extra but are absolutely worth it.

This is a simple but sweet setting, with a string of café lights, handful of covered tables, as well as an open-air courtyard outfitted with picnic tables and a blazing fire pit. Tacos, ceviche and tostadas reign supreme on the menu, which draws culinary inspiration from the chef’s childhood in Mexico City. Don’t miss the special tender chicken tacos—starring red mole made from bougainvillea and garnished with purple spinach and shaved red onion. 

Chef Thomas Ortega fuses his specific style of the city’s Mexican cuisine, like handmade tortillas and spicy salsas, with an American twist. Look for that Coca-Cola glaze on his pork belly or the sprinkle of Doritos on chilaquiles, not to mention such luxurious accents as truffles. It’s hard to miss with any of Chef Ortega’s tacos, which range from crisp beer-battered cod with smoky salsa de arbol to tender, charred al pastor. Can’t decide? Order the tour de tacos for an overview of the flavors the kitchen has to offer. 

Margaritas and Mexican food go hand in hand, and the spicy cucumber margarita offered here is a sure thing. Opt for one of the many tequilas or mezcals for sipping while snacking, preferably on the dip duo of chunky guacamole and creamy choriqueso blended with spicy house chorizo, plus crispy and crunchy chips. This is not a street taco joint; among the stand-outs are cauliflower al pastor and jicama shrimp.

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