best tex mex restaurants

Tex-Mex

Tex-Mex cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors and culinary traditions from Texas and Mexico, blending the hearty ingredients and bold spices of Texan cuisine with the vibrant flavors and techniques of Mexican cooking. This unique culinary style has its roots in the border region between Texas and Mexico, where cross-cultural exchange has flourished for centuries.

What sets Tex-Mex apart from traditional Mexican food is its incorporation of ingredients not typically found in authentic Mexican cuisine, as well as its emphasis on heartier, meat-centric dishes and generous use of melted cheese. Tex-Mex dishes often feature ingredients such as beef, chicken, beans, cheese, and flour tortillas, alongside spicy salsas, tangy sauces, and zesty toppings.

While traditional Mexican cuisine tends to focus more on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and lighter, more delicate flavors, Tex-Mex cuisine is known for its bold, robust flavors and indulgent comfort foods. Think sizzling fajitas, cheesy enchiladas, crispy tacos, and gooey queso—Tex-Mex cuisine is all about hearty, satisfying dishes that are perfect for sharing with family and friends.

Despite these differences, both Tex-Mex and traditional Mexican cuisine share a love of bold flavors, fresh ingredients, and a rich culinary heritage that celebrates the diverse cultural influences of the region. Whether you’re craving a spicy plate of chili con carne or a refreshing agua fresca, Tex-Mex cuisine offers a delicious taste of Texas hospitality with a dash of Mexican flair. Listed below are some of the best Tex-Mex restaurants.

Tex-Mex Restaurants

Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia (San Antonio)

Founded in 1941, Mi Tierra is a legendary Tex-Mex institution in San Antonio’s Historic Market Square. Known for its vibrant atmosphere, mariachi bands, and traditional Tex-Mex dishes like enchiladas, tamales, and menudo, Mi Tierra has become a cultural landmark beloved by locals and tourists alike.

Matt’s El Rancho (Austin)

Established in 1952, Matt’s El Rancho is an iconic Tex-Mex restaurant in Austin, Texas. Renowned for its famous Bob Armstrong Dip (a cheesy, spicy queso with taco meat, guacamole, and sour cream), as well as its sizzling fajitas and mouthwatering enchiladas, Matt’s El Rancho has been a favorite dining destination for generations of Austinites.

El Fenix (Dallas)

Dating back to 1918, El Fenix is one of the oldest Tex-Mex restaurant chains in the United States. Known for popularizing Tex-Mex cuisine in Dallas, El Fenix serves up classic dishes like crispy tacos, chili con carne, and chicken enchiladas, along with signature margaritas and refreshing agua frescas.

Chuy’s (Various Locations)

Founded in 1982 in Austin, Texas, Chuy’s has since expanded to numerous locations across the state and beyond. With its funky, eclectic decor and made-from-scratch Tex-Mex fare, Chuy’s has earned a loyal following. Signature dishes include the Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom Enchiladas, Elvis Green Chile Fried Chicken, and creamy jalapeño dip.

Joe T. Garcia’s (Fort Worth)

Opened in 1935, Joe T. Garcia’s is a Fort Worth institution renowned for its lush gardens, festive ambiance, and family-style Tex-Mex feasts. Diners flock to Joe T.’s for its sizzling fajitas, beef enchiladas, and generous margaritas served in frosty schooners, all enjoyed amidst the restaurant’s scenic outdoor patio.

The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation (Houston)

Founded by “Mama” Ninfa Laurenzo in 1973, The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation is credited with popularizing the fajita craze in the United States. Located in Houston’s East End, Ninfa’s serves up sizzling beef, chicken, and shrimp fajitas alongside homemade flour tortillas, creamy queso, and tangy salsa verde.

Torchy’s Tacos (Various Locations)

Established in 2006 as a food truck in Austin, Torchy’s Tacos has grown into a beloved Tex-Mex chain with locations throughout Texas and beyond. Known for its creative, inventive taco creations like the Trailer Park (fried chicken, green chiles, and poblano sauce) and the Brushfire (Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapeños, and mango), Torchy’s has garnered a cult following.

Pappasito’s Cantina (Various Locations)

Part of the Pappas Restaurants group, Pappasito’s Cantina has been serving up classic Tex-Mex cuisine since 1983. With its lively atmosphere, mesquite-grilled meats, and indulgent queso blanco, Pappasito’s has become a go-to destination for Tex-Mex enthusiasts looking for a hearty, satisfying meal.

Guero’s Taco Bar (Austin)

Established in 1986 on South Congress Avenue, Guero’s Taco Bar is a beloved Austin institution known for its authentic Tex-Mex flavors and laid-back vibe. Diners flock to Guero’s for its sizzling fajitas, crispy tacos, and refreshing margaritas enjoyed on the restaurant’s iconic outdoor patio.

La Gloria (San Antonio)

Founded by Chef Johnny Hernandez, La Gloria is a vibrant Mexican street food-inspired eatery located at the Historic Pearl Brewery complex in San Antonio. Offering an array of regional specialties from across Mexico, La Gloria celebrates the diverse flavors and culinary traditions of Mexican cuisine. Signature dishes include street tacos, ceviches, and antojitos (Mexican street snacks), all served in a lively, festive atmosphere.

These Tex-Mex restaurants each have their own unique histories and specialties, but they all share a commitment to serving delicious, authentic Tex-Mex cuisine that celebrates the rich culinary heritage of Texas and Mexico. If you feel like we missed your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant please comment or share on our social media page.

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