The Best Mexican Restaurant in Every State

According to a study conducted late last year by FoodFireFriends, the second most popular cuisine in America based on Google search data is Mexican, with an average of 1.22 million searches a month. (Chinese is first, with more than 3.35 million.) And this year, on a list of the 50 most popular foods in America published by Reader’s Digest, 11 items were Mexican or Mexican-adjacent.

What is it about the fare of our neighbors to the south that appeals to us so much? Well, let’s see…. It’s intensely flavorful, accessible, varied, comparatively expensive, and you can dress it up or dress it down. What’s not to like?

Of course “Mexican food” means different things to different people – black mole enchiladas with chorizo at Guelaguetza in Los Angeles or a two-foot-long Macho Burrito at Los Amigos in Charleston, West Virginia (to mention two restaurants you’ll read more about below) or maybe a five-item combination plate at the nationwide Chevy’s Fresh Mex chain or a never-in-Mexico Crunchwrap Supreme at the local Taco Bell (to mention two restaurants that we’ll say no more about.) 

To identify the best Mexican restaurant in every state, 24/7 Tempo consulted reviews and ratings on a wide range of culinary and general interest websites, including Thrillist, Gayot, Time Out, The Daily Meal, and Yelp, as well as local and regional sites.  Chains with more than a few units, food trucks, take-out places without seating, pan-Latino or Central American establishments, and restaurants specializing in Korean-Mexican and other hybrid cuisines were eliminated from the list, as were Mexican markets unless they had in-store restaurants. A few counter service places that provide seating, on the other hand, made the cut.

Current Yelp scores are provided. These scores are a useful reference, but it should be noted that because the site sources reviews and ratings from a broad cross-section of the population, sometimes the more authentic or innovative restaurants end up with lower scores than some that are more conventional. (Here, though, are Yelp’s top 30 taco spots in America.)

Click here to see the best Mexican restaurant in every state

The resulting list includes establishments of every type – elegant contemporary restaurants, family-style neighborhood places, bare-bones establishments. Some specialize in the cuisines of specific regions of Mexico. Some offer the standard fare we’ve come to expect, but done particularly well. Some take the Mexican flavor palate as an inspiration and invent dishes of their own. (Here’s a list of 20 “foreign” foods that are really American.)

The restaurants here may range from the casual to the sophisticated, the Americanized to the authentic, but every one is a place you’ll want to try.

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