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Where to Get Your Tex-Mex Fix in Seattle

Fusion cuisine for the win

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Austin's famous SXSW festival may have just ended its 2016 edition, but the food cravings it inspires linger year-round. Those who love Tex-Mex know that it's more than generic gringo-fied Mexican food. Tex-Mex can mean a lot of things; at its best, it's interior-rooted foods flecked with Creole-influenced roux and umami-packed ingredients like mature cheeses, roasted tomatoes, and smoked beef. It's not always synonymous with margaritas and tacos, but it sure as hell can be.

Whether choosing a spot based on your personal style or rambling along and cherry-picking the best qualities of each, here are the top places to satiate your Tex-Mex needs in Seattle.

Please note, map points are listed in geographical order from north to south, and are not ranked.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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El Chupacabra

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El Chupacabra sometimes veers toward Baja- and Mission-style Mexican, but it also offers specific Tex-style options like huevos rancheros and “Texas Tacos,” soft tacos made with flour rather than corn. Plus, you can Michelada any beer for an extra $1.50, and there are tostadas you can actually eat like tostadas, rather than with fork and knife. The Alki location is great, but the Greenwood flagship and South Lake Union outpost get extra points for sunny outdoor seating.

Laredos Grill

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People flock to Laredos for the avocado margaritas and queso flameado, but the flour tortillas are the real showstoppers here. Sourced from La Mexicana in White Center, these tortillas are so wispy and translucent they’re reminiscent of a time and place free from the scourge of Mission’s packaged tortillas, like La Margarita’s old repurposed train car on the I-35 corridor. Try them with steak fajitas after noon or breakfast fajitas for weekend brunch.

Rooster's Bar & Grill

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It’s the little things that make Rooster’s great: The ingredients are fresh and more delicate than you might expect, the super friendly front and back of house know their beef, and the nut mix at the bar is made in house, complete with spice-encrusted garlic nibs. Stop in for a brunch full of breakfast tacos and “Mexi-migas,” eggs scrambled with brisket in a flour tortilla. You can even enjoy a Bloody Mary with Deep Eddy Vodka or, better yet, a spicy Bloody Maria.

Nacho Borracho

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Nacho Borracho and Neon Taco somehow straddle the line where Los Angeles, Austin, and Seattle meet. Nacho Borracho, the bar side, pours rotating cocktails on tap, frozen margaritas from slushie machines, and tall boys of Oly. Neon Taco, the taco joint in the back, makes a great selection of fresh salsas, queso from scratch, and no-fuss street tacos in flavors seamlessly fused, like the ever-popular Asian-American-inspired General Tso taco.

Mama's Mexican Kitchen

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Closing temporarily March 31, this 42-year-old institution will be reopened in May by new owner Marcus Charles, who also runs neighboring Bell + Whete and Local 360. However, a fair amount of the kitschy art and debaucherous foods, like the chunky beef tamales or the big-as-your-face carne asada Elvis burrito, each slathered in roasted pepper and cheese sauce, will likely disappear. One of the last vestiges of the Belltown dive scene, Mama’s will be transformed into a slightly higher-end fusion spot, so get your old school Tex Mex here while you can.

Casco Antiguo

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Head past the front door on Occidental and enter Casco Antiguo through the alley instead, to one of the best back patios in the city for after-work margaritas. If you’re greeted with the words “Y’all want some guac?” go for it — it's made fresh, ripe, and not overpowered by too much citrus. The on-tap and hand-made margaritas both feature fresh lime in lieu of sweet and sour, and the queso flameado comes with a heap of fresh cilantro. Add some slow-cooked tinga tacos and it’s a balanced meal.

El Sombrero

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In a perfect world, sweet and sour mix would be outlawed. Thankfully, El Sombrero mixes even its margaritas with fresh citrus. And the restaurant understands that cocktail rules are bendable: The proof is in the Smoke and Fire Margarita, with smoky undertones from a healthy dose of Del Maguey mescal along with fresh lime juice and a cayenne-peppered rim. Throw in some Tejano music and enchiladas rancheros, a dish unique for its creamy queso ranchero sauce drizzled on top, and you’ve got a Tex Mex dream.

Carniceria El Paisano

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Next time you need a dozen tamales for a Sounder’s game or Thanksgiving, Carniceria El Paisano is the place to go. Pick up some chicharrón on the way to the cash register in the back, where a steamer full of tamales with a choice of fillings will be waiting for $1 a pop. Make sure to get a few of the spicy pork if they’re available.

Best Roasted Corn Stand

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Elotes, roasted corn on the cob, are good in any weather, and some of the best truck food considering they come on a stick. This cash-only stand serves its roasted corn so fresh it's de-husked at the counter just before being dusted with optional ingredients. The standout classic is the #2, coated in lemon, queso fresco, and pepper.

Lara Douglass/Eater

El Chupacabra

El Chupacabra sometimes veers toward Baja- and Mission-style Mexican, but it also offers specific Tex-style options like huevos rancheros and “Texas Tacos,” soft tacos made with flour rather than corn. Plus, you can Michelada any beer for an extra $1.50, and there are tostadas you can actually eat like tostadas, rather than with fork and knife. The Alki location is great, but the Greenwood flagship and South Lake Union outpost get extra points for sunny outdoor seating.

Laredos Grill

People flock to Laredos for the avocado margaritas and queso flameado, but the flour tortillas are the real showstoppers here. Sourced from La Mexicana in White Center, these tortillas are so wispy and translucent they’re reminiscent of a time and place free from the scourge of Mission’s packaged tortillas, like La Margarita’s old repurposed train car on the I-35 corridor. Try them with steak fajitas after noon or breakfast fajitas for weekend brunch.

Rooster's Bar & Grill

It’s the little things that make Rooster’s great: The ingredients are fresh and more delicate than you might expect, the super friendly front and back of house know their beef, and the nut mix at the bar is made in house, complete with spice-encrusted garlic nibs. Stop in for a brunch full of breakfast tacos and “Mexi-migas,” eggs scrambled with brisket in a flour tortilla. You can even enjoy a Bloody Mary with Deep Eddy Vodka or, better yet, a spicy Bloody Maria.

Nacho Borracho

Nacho Borracho and Neon Taco somehow straddle the line where Los Angeles, Austin, and Seattle meet. Nacho Borracho, the bar side, pours rotating cocktails on tap, frozen margaritas from slushie machines, and tall boys of Oly. Neon Taco, the taco joint in the back, makes a great selection of fresh salsas, queso from scratch, and no-fuss street tacos in flavors seamlessly fused, like the ever-popular Asian-American-inspired General Tso taco.

Mama's Mexican Kitchen

Closing temporarily March 31, this 42-year-old institution will be reopened in May by new owner Marcus Charles, who also runs neighboring Bell + Whete and Local 360. However, a fair amount of the kitschy art and debaucherous foods, like the chunky beef tamales or the big-as-your-face carne asada Elvis burrito, each slathered in roasted pepper and cheese sauce, will likely disappear. One of the last vestiges of the Belltown dive scene, Mama’s will be transformed into a slightly higher-end fusion spot, so get your old school Tex Mex here while you can.

Casco Antiguo

Head past the front door on Occidental and enter Casco Antiguo through the alley instead, to one of the best back patios in the city for after-work margaritas. If you’re greeted with the words “Y’all want some guac?” go for it — it's made fresh, ripe, and not overpowered by too much citrus. The on-tap and hand-made margaritas both feature fresh lime in lieu of sweet and sour, and the queso flameado comes with a heap of fresh cilantro. Add some slow-cooked tinga tacos and it’s a balanced meal.

El Sombrero

In a perfect world, sweet and sour mix would be outlawed. Thankfully, El Sombrero mixes even its margaritas with fresh citrus. And the restaurant understands that cocktail rules are bendable: The proof is in the Smoke and Fire Margarita, with smoky undertones from a healthy dose of Del Maguey mescal along with fresh lime juice and a cayenne-peppered rim. Throw in some Tejano music and enchiladas rancheros, a dish unique for its creamy queso ranchero sauce drizzled on top, and you’ve got a Tex Mex dream.

Carniceria El Paisano

Next time you need a dozen tamales for a Sounder’s game or Thanksgiving, Carniceria El Paisano is the place to go. Pick up some chicharrón on the way to the cash register in the back, where a steamer full of tamales with a choice of fillings will be waiting for $1 a pop. Make sure to get a few of the spicy pork if they’re available.

Best Roasted Corn Stand

Lara Douglass/Eater

Elotes, roasted corn on the cob, are good in any weather, and some of the best truck food considering they come on a stick. This cash-only stand serves its roasted corn so fresh it's de-husked at the counter just before being dusted with optional ingredients. The standout classic is the #2, coated in lemon, queso fresco, and pepper.

Lara Douglass/Eater

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