I LOVE mexican food. I will drink salsa. That is how much I love salsa. Green salsa, red salsa, you name it, I love it. I have eaten a lot of Mexican food throughout my life here in Waco, Texas. So I pretty much know what’s good and what’s not. Well actually its hard for me NOT to like a mexican joint. I can’t think of any mexican food place in Waco I don’t enjoy. Besides the fast food mexican places. ugh.
Here are some of the best mexican restaurants in Waco. Most of these are locally owned and operated. A few may be regional chains.
La Fiesta is a locally owned restaurant. I usually get vegetable enchiladas here. I’m just weird like that. They don’t really have my favorite salsa either. Its not chunky. Its kind of like red liquid sauce. And its kind of too spicy in my opinion. Even though I like spicy stuff. They also have a party room next door so its a good place to have an event. The atmosphere is upbeat and colorful. Everything is bright and colorful. I think it has been remodeled not too long ago.
Casa De Castillo
Another good mexican restaurant is Casa De Castillo. I also believe this is locally owned and not a chain. It is off of Sanger Avenue. Their salsa is better than La Fiesta in my opinion. Its more chunky, but not too chunky. its finely blended chunks. This place is the bomb. It is an old school mexican place and it hasn’t been remodeled since the 70s or 80s it looks like. Its been there forever. The mexican food is solid and traditional mexican american food, no complaints. They bring it out on little old school push carts which is kind of cool. They also have candy like pralines you can buy at the from desk.
Another favorite mexican restaurant of mine is Chuy’s. This is a regional chain restaurant, but if you are not from Texas, you have never had it before! The mexican food here is….different. Everything is different here!! The walls are covered with crazy art, hub caps, animal art, and mexican tiles and more! There is something going on in every inch of this place. I don’t know what kind of mexican food this is, its weird. Its like they mixed it with food from Arizona?? I’m not a chef, but every dish has something different to it than you would find at a typical mexican joint. For example one of their dips is jalapeno ranch. The salsa is also different. Its thick and chunky and…sour??
Ninfa’s is another local long time running mexican restaurant. I honestly haven’t eaten here many times. Maybe like 3 times tops. Its in a giant warehouse setting. For that reason, it is LOUD inside. Its like everyone’s voice echos off of the walls. I’m not a huge fan but some people swear by this place. Also their salsa is nothing to call home about. The food is super traditional mexican food. Nothing weird, just straight up mexican.
Los Cucos Mexican Restaurant
Ok, this Los Cucos is new, but it is OFF THE CHAIN. The food is AMAZING. The service is AMAZING. The menu is traditional but also has some unique entres on there. I usually get this tostada or taco thing that has cabbage and meat and some white sour cream stuff drizzed on top. THE KEY WORD IS DRIZZLED. That’s how fancy the mexican food is here. They drizzle on things. The kids menu is also good. My kids ended up with a big bowl of fruit. I have no idea how they ordered that but they got one and it wasn;t your normal crappy fruit bowl with grapes and melons. It has RASPBERRIES in it. Yes, a fruit bowl with raspberries. Plus the price is super not expensive for the quality of the food. AND the salsa was TOP NOTCH. It was a little chunky with yummy flavor and not too spicy. AND THEY HAVE GREEN SALSA. GREEN SALSA ALERT PEOPLE!!! Get it before this place goes out of business. This restaurant has changed hands several times in the past few years. Hopefully Los Cucos will stay.
Don Carlos is not too far from Los Cucos, at the Central Texas Market Place. It has a cool interior. Its like a log cabin. They are generous with the food here. They also have red AND GREEN salsa. The food is pretty good traditional mexican food. Sometimes its hit or miss. But the service is excellent when I have gone and the portions are generous. I always have left overs here.
Taqueria El Mexicano Grille
So I’ve only been to Taqueria El Mexicano Grille ONCE but I was very satisfied. Ok this is like some kind of weird mexican chain, but every one has a different name, but every name has “Mexicano Grille” in it. The food is traditional mexican and leans more towards REAL mexican food. This is a mexican food place that mexicans go to. I think the waiter didn’t speak much english. You know what that mean’s? GOOD FOOD. The red salsa was really good and so were the chips. I think they had a TV in there somewhere. This place has more of a REAL MEXICAN vibe. Its one big room and they have little flags hanging from the ceiling. They had some green salsa but it was the really super hot kind that comes in tiny containers.
MEXICAN FOOD TIP: If you get “salsa” from any mexican place that is in a TINY CONTAINER, it is HOT SAUCE, not salsa. It will burn the f*ck out of your mouth the first time you try it. I’m a seasoned pro though. I eat that stuff all the time. *wink*
Torchy’s is like a super cool modern urban hipster mexican place. I think it originally came from Austin and they opened one in Waco. The food is AMAZING though. They have all kinds of st reet tacos with quirky names. I think one is called “the democrat”…… I guess its catchy. What I love there is the elote…AKA corn in a cup. Its SOO good. You can get different kinds of toppings for it, My husband is mexican and hes says this place is not “real mexican food”, but I don’t care I love it.
Rene’s is a locally owned mexican place. Its really kind of old school. They have a patio in the front with tables and chairs. They also have a drive thru. I go there for breakfast burritos. As does everyone else in Waco apparently because the line is always long. They have canteloupe juice here that is so good and refreshing.
El Conquistador is a retaurant similar to Casa de Castillo. It is on Waco Drive. It is pretty old, but its got good mexican food. I think this place has a similar atmosphere to Casa de Castillo, but it might be a little more fancy and expensive.
Ok here are a few more bonus places if you are still looking for some mexican food….
There is this new place in Hewitt called Mexicano Grille. This is another one of those weird mexican chain restaurants. These pop up in the suburbs around here. I think there is another one in China Spring. Anyways, their salsa is good. The food is good too. The inside is super unique. Its borderline tacky, and over the top mexican. The chairs are all thick black wood with scenes from mexico painted on them. Its really kind of cool. I’d call it kitsch mexican. It is a sit down restaurant.
Fuzzy’s is a cool college type mexican joint. I think its a regional chain. They have a bar and live music and quirky decorations. The food is pretty good. It’s laid back. They don’t have waiters, its an order at the counter and wait for your number to be called type place. The chips and salsa are YUMMY! I usually get a bowl with the spicy chimichuri sauce. This restaurant is downtown near the river.
There are several taco trucks in town. These are all run by real mexicans and they sell street tacos and other real mexican food. You see, there is mexican food from mexican restaurants and there is mexican food from taco trucks. The mexican food from mexican restaurants is really catered towards american’s most of the time. The mexican food from taco trucks is for mexicans. For example, they sell stuff like Lingua tacos, which is cow tongue. So if you want REAL mexican food. Go to a taco truck! They are awesome!!
There’s a lot of good mexican restaurants in Waco! I’m sure I am forgetting like half of the restaurants in town so if there is one I forgot, let me know in the comments!!