Best Mexican Restaurant in Every State

Source: Courtesy of Amy M. via Yelp

The food Americans missed most during the pandemic lockdowns and restaurant closures was  Mexican, according to figures compiled by DoorDash, the nation’s largest food delivery service. In addition, says the company, three Mexican-style dishes were among the 10 most often ordered items for home delivery in the first six months of last year – breakfast burritos, spicy shrimp tacos, and chicken fajitas.

If any further proof is needed that we love Mexican food in this country, Mexico came in second only to Italy as the country with the best food overall, according to Ranker readers responding to a survey the site conducted two years ago. And Mexican is the second most popular “ethnic” cuisine in the United States after Chinese – and the number-one favorite in some 27 states – according to an analysis of Google searches for various cuisines conducted by the website Chef’s Pencil.

Of course “Mexican” can mean different things to different people: sea urchin tostadas with bone marrow salsa at Cosme in Manhattan; black mole enchiladas with chorizo at Guelaguetza in Los Angeles; a five-item combination plate at the nationwide Chevy’s Fresh Mex chain; even a keto salad bowl with adobo chicken at the ubiquitous Chipotle or a never-in-Mexico creation like a Quesarito or a Crunchwrap Supreme at the local Taco Bell. 

To identify the best Mexican restaurant in every state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the top-rated restaurants nationwide in the Mexican category on Yelp. To be considered, restaurants needed to be in or near a city with a population of at least 100,000 people. In states with few or no cities of this size, restaurants in smaller cities were also considered. 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. 

The resulting list includes establishments of every type – elegant contemporary restaurants, family-style neighborhood places, bare-bones counter-service 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. 

These restaurants 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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