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Where to find Mexican-style food in your city

When it comes to flavourful food, spicy Mexican-inspired feasts sit pretty high up on our list. If a dish is filled or topped with cheese, chilli or smoky meat and then fried or baked, we’re in. Don’t forget the freshly made salsa, guacamole and lashings of sour cream, or the zingy ceviche that pairs so perfectly with jugs of frozen margaritas or tots of tequila. We’ve gathered all the great options for Mexican-style food in your city, whether it’s tacos filled with pulled chilorio pork, spicy burritos or Tex-Mex nachos and chilli poppers.

Have you got a favourite Mexican-style restaurant? We’ll be awarding the best Mexican eatery in your province this October at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries. Cast your vote by reviewing your favourite now.

 

Johannesburg

Baha Taco (Norwood)

This is the home of arguably the best chilli popper in the country. Grab the fishbowl-sized G&T, served on tap, and a beer-battered hake taco pescado for R50, encased in one of the most authentic tortillas in Joburg. Each soft corn disk is hand squeezed in an African hard-wood taco press designed by owner David Smale. Plus, if you ask nicely, David will even teach you the tricks to make your own tortillas at home.

A selection of tacos at Baha Taco. Photo supplied.

A selection of tacos at Baha Taco. Photo supplied.

El Jalapeño (Linden)

Not many Mexican places up north dare to make a mole, but this Linden gem convincingly tackles a bunch of traditional dishes not usually found elsewhere. Skip the usual burrito fare and try the tamales, flautas, arepitas or the latest menu addition, bistec de res al chipotle, which is rump smothered in an authentic Mexican chipotle sauce and served with refried beans, spicy rice, guacamole and totopo chips for R120.

Tostadas-at-El-Jalapeno

Tostadas at El Jalapeno. Photo supplied.

The Gringo Café (Maboneng)

The newest Mexican kid on the Maboneng block is definitely the livelier of the bunch – and we’re not just talking about owner Saad Hamid’s famously curled moustache. Great atmosphere coupled with jalapeño-grapefruit margaritas from the resident mixologist make for a fun time had by all. While Mexican in theme, the food is also touched by local flair and flavours – El Nachos South Africano (R70), anyone?

La Santa Muerta (Melville)

The original Jozi home of Taco Tuesdays does the tradition proud. For R80–R90, you get your choice of any three of the more traditional favourites or you can switch it up with the weekly chef special. And when we say special, we mean pulled pork with pickled slaw, fresh sliced jalapeños and HellFire whiskey-plum aioli kind of special. You may as well order a couple of extra shots of the fiery cinnamon liquor just to make sure exactly how special (and delicious) it can be.

Tacos at La Santa Muerte. Photo supplied.

Tacos at La Santa Muerte. Photo supplied.

Mama Mexicana (Maboneng)

What started as a stall run by two partners at Market on Main has turned into a reliable Maboneng institution. Long have these tiny corn breads, famous Hot Mama Beef Chilli (R50), and fantastic mango margaritas reigned supreme in the inner city. What’s more, with the wide selection of vegetarian options and all chicken dishes being Halaal, everybody can enjoy the spicy taste of Central America.

Inside Mama Mexicana. Photo supplied.

Inside Mama Mexicana. Photo supplied.

Mexican Fresh (Blairgowrie, Bryanston, Sunninghill)

Far more Tex-Mex than authentic, this indulgent diner is still a takeaway contender any day of the week. The generously portioned beef-strip nachos (R70) is always a solid choice, as is the Bar-One burrito for dessert. The tomato salsa is so deliciously saucy that you should definitely get an extra side order for the road.

The chilli poppers at Mexican Fresh. Photo supplied.

The chilli poppers at Mexican Fresh. Photo supplied.

Perron (Illovo and Bryanston)

Joburg’s most famous Mexican institution still delights locals with good service, margaritas by the litre, and crispy-shelled mushroom tacos. Originally inspired by taquerias and food trucks in New York and London, Perron’s wide selection of “los más pequeños” tapas faithfully mirrors the communal eating styles found over the pond. If, however, you don’t believe that sharing is caring, you can indulge in a sizable, juicy Thompadre steak burrito for R114.

The beautiful bar at Perron. Photo supplied.

The beautiful bar at Perron. Photo supplied.

Pretoria

El Pistolero (Constantia Park)

Since opening its doors a few years ago, El Pistolero has been delighting diners with fantastic Mexican food, from exceptional jalapeño poppers and ceviche to fantastic tacos made with soft corn tortillas, stuffed with everything from slow-cooked pork belly to smoked beef short ribs. The beer-battered fish tacos are a crowd favourite, and make sure you leave space for churros. You won’t find better anywhere else in Pretoria, especially when dunked in the silkier-than-silk spicy dark chocolate ganache. There’s a good range of beers, cocktails and tequilas on offer, and the aguas frescas (fresh juices) are out of this world. The watermelon version is life changing. Main course range from R75–R120.

A colourful taco at El Pistolero. Photo supplied.

A colourful taco at El Pistolero. Photo supplied.

Jo Mexican (Garsfontein)

While Jo Mexican isn’t authentic in its preparation of dishes, you’ll still find tasty tacos, enchiladas and nachos at this relatively new eatery east of Pretoria. Tacos come in flour tortillas with a choice of pulled pork, smoked pork, smoked beef or chicken. The nachos are piled high with drunken beans, jalapeños, black olives, and cheddar cheese, and served with pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole. The sweet nachos are a fun way to finish your meal. There’s a decent selection of wines and craft beers available, as well as a small list of cocktails, including frozen and shaken margaritas. Mains range from R75–R85.

The colourful interior at Jo Mexican. Photo supplied.

The colourful interior at Jo Mexican. Photo supplied.

Lucky Rodrigo (Lynnwood)

This favourite of the hip and happening in Pretoria isn’t technically a Mexican restaurant, but the quesadillas and jalapeño popper spring rolls (R40) will leave you salivating. Try the chicken-and-cheese quesadilla (R48) or the vegetarian quesadillas (R48) stuffed with brinjals, sun-dried tomatoes and olives. For something lighter (but not really), try the deep-fried tortilla salad (R58).

Durban

El Toro (Durban North)

This lively tapas spot blends old-school Mexican food with inventive flavours. Start off with the queso fundido (Mexican-style fondue) with three cheeses and tequila served with chorizo, onions and nachos. Continue on to Spanish-style flatbreads, tacos with lime yoghurt, or the Valencia-style paella with olives and chorizo. Finish off the meal with the comforting churros with a honeyed chocolate sauce. (R39–R98 for a dish)

Churros with chocolate sauce and strawberries at El Toro. Photo supplied.

Churros with chocolate sauce and strawberries at El Toro. Photo supplied.

Four15 (Durban North)

This trendy burrito bar on Mackeurtan Avenue offers diners a variety of giant tortillas filled with a mixture of Mission-style burrito ingredients. Inspired by San Francisco, the eatery has a menu that includes classic burrito combinations with cheese, beans and unlimited salsa, plus a range of burrito bowls, chimichangas, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and fajitas (R80–R100). End off with a dessert taco or bubble waffle from neighbouring Plan B Dessertery, or go for gold with the Mexican chocolate tart with chilli and cinnamon.

The interior at Four15. Photo supplied.

The interior at Four15. Photo supplied.

Lucky Shaker (Umhlanga)

This vibrant cocktail bar serves up fresh and innovative Tex-Mex-style food to pair with fun, seasonal drinks. Tacos are served two per portion with the option of a crunchy lettuce wrap instead of a soft flour tortilla. Choices include barbecue pulled pork with grilled pineapple; fish tempura with citrus mayo; and a veggie crispy falafel taco with cabbage, tzatziki, tahini and a spicy onion relish (R50–R55). There are also crispy tortilla chips to snack on, and meaty burgers.

The tacos at Lucky Shaker. Photo supplied.

The tacos at Lucky Shaker. Photo supplied.

Taco Zulu (Morningside)

Look forward to made-to-order guacamole and Mexican fusion food here. Cheese enthusiasts will enjoy the likes of the Mexicana pizza topped with chilli mince, refried beans, guacamole and sour cream. For more traditional options, there’s quesadillas filled with prawns, chorizo, avo and feta; nachos with a choice of meaty toppings; burritos; and old-school tacos (R80–R150). Wash it all down with a couple of Mexican-inspired cocktails.

Cape Town

Cabrón Taco Bar (City Bowl)

This new edition to Bree Street offers tacos filled with tuna, pork, beef, or veg. There’s also a prawn taco, nachos and a corn salad for the health nuts. Pro tip: Head here for weekend breakfast tacos and bloody Marias from 9am on Saturdays. Dishes range from R45 to R70.

The tacos at Cabron. Photo by Lauren Josephs.

The tacos at Cabron. Photo by Lauren Josephs.

Del Mar (Camps Bay)

This Mexican spot serves up beautiful sea views and modern Mexican eats. Kick things off with salsa fresco on hand-made corn tortilla chips before moving on to stand-out mains of beef rib eye with mushroom-tequila sauce; grilled tuna with adobo marinade; barbacao (slow-roasted lamb); and carnitas de puerco (slow-cooked pork tacos). There’s also a street-food menu with smaller portions of tortillas, jalapeños and tacos. Mains range from R144 to R279.

Sunset views at Del Mar. Photo supplied.

Sunset views at Del Mar. Photo supplied.

Didi’s Bitchin Burritos

This Tex-Mex food truck offers a variety of generous beef, chicken and veggie burritos. The team also dishes up naked burritos in a bowl, breakfast burritos and a selection of tacos. All items are available with hot, homemade chilli sauce. Find the truck at Salt Circle Arcade, as well as at various markets and festivals. Some weekends you may spot Didi’s at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Follow the truck on Facebook.

Didi's Bitchin' Burritos in Cape Town. Photo supplied.

Didi’s Bitchin’ Burritos in Cape Town. Photo supplied.

El Burro (Green Point and Newlands)

This extremely popular restaurant is known for authentic fare and a buzzing atmosphere. The food stretches beyond tacos and nachos to items like chicken mole poblano with chicken in a rich sauce of tomato and dark chocolate, and the chorizo con patatas quesadilla with crispy potatoes and a chimichurri sauce. (R110–R185 for a main). The margaritas are excellent, and they have more than 20 kinds of tequila on offer.

The stylish interior at El Burro in Newlands. Photo supplied.

The stylish interior at El Burro in Newlands. Photo supplied.

El Burro Taqueria (Tamboerskloof)

El Burro’s Kloof Street taqueria serves up smaller, individually plated tacos that are reasonably priced, with the idea that you try two or three of different flavours. The twice-cooked chilorio pork with chilli and garlic is spicy and tender. Vegetarians can opt for versions with warm roasted veggies, cumin and chipotle feta. Zingy seared squid and quesadillas are also available.

Churros at El Burro Taqueria. Photo supplied.

Churros at El Burro Taqueria. Photo supplied.

Fat Cactus (Gardens, Mowbray and Woodstock)

This popular Tex-Mex franchise has a devoted following. The nachos are popular, as are the chilli poppers, which come stuffed with Jack cheese and battered, fried and served with salsa mayo. For mains (R95–R110), go straight for the tacos filled with the likes of chipotle steak, pineapple pulled pork, or golden hake goujons. If Tex-Mex flavours are more your pace, sink your teeth into the spicy Texan burgers. Drinks-wise, jugs of strawberry, mango or lime margaritas will get the party started.

Remex Mexican Cantina (Parklands)

Cheerful eats are the order of the day at this festive venue. The chilli poppers are popular, comprising jalapeños stuffed with three cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar and feta), wrapped in tortillas, deep fried and served with a layered dip. Main dishes (R60–R100) include the likes of fiery beef fajitas, nacho bowls, soft tacos, refried bean skillets, and enchiladas.

San Julian (De Waterkant)

This welcoming Mexican family-run eatery is the place in the city for made-from-scratch tacos and tortillas. Recommended dishes are the carnitas tortillas with confit pork shoulder braised in orange juice; and the Baja-style beer battered fish tacos with a chilli-mayo coleslaw (R85–R135). There’s also a great carne asada dish with medium-rare sirloin, refried beans, guacamole, salsa and soft corn tortillas.

Frozen margaritas at San Julian. Photo supplied.

Frozen margaritas at San Julian. Photo supplied.

Tacoways Mexican Café (Durbanville)

It may be labelled as a takeaway joint, but locals also enjoy eating their meals on site. Top sellers include the pulled pork and beef burritos, stuffed with spicy rice and cheese and served with the ‘three amigos’ of guacamole, sour cream and salsa. And there’s a kiddies’ menu with lots of milder options. Vegetarians and gluten avoiders are also looked after with a few options on the menu.

Tortilla Modern Mexican (Foreshore)

A speedy and delicious takeaway lunch is what you’ll find at Tortilla Modern Mexican in the Foreshore, where the lunch queue of office workers often stretches out the door. Pick your tortilla type, then choose between fillings like chicken, grilled marinated prawns or seared steak, followed by accompaniments like coriander rice, refried beans, sour cream and your choice of fresh salsas.

VIVA Mexican Kitchen & Bar (Harfield Village and Durbanville)

Look forward to a colourful Mexican feast at this kitchen and bar. Kick things off with smaller sharing portions of Mexican cheese, chorizo and rice balls, or chilli con carne with nacho chips. Mains include everything from nachos, tacos and burritos to quesadillas, pizzadillas and combo platters. For something hearty, go for the speciality sirloin with mole sauce and Mexican-style potatoes. (Mains are R72 to R125.)

The vibrant interior at VIVA Mexican Kitchen & Bar. Photo supplied.

The vibrant interior at VIVA Mexican Kitchen & Bar. Photo supplied.

Winelands

Cosecha (R45, Klapmuts)

Alfresco dining with pretty vineyard and mountain views complements the creative Latin cuisine at this winelands spot. Mornings might feature spicy huevos rancheros or breakfast burritos, while lazy lunches include Mexican-style soups and ceviches; slow-cooked leg of lamb with green rice, jalapeño salsa and home-made corn tortillas; and beer-battered fish tacos with citrus salsa. Be sure to order the signature guacamole that’s prepared tableside by expert guacistadors.

The guacamole at Cosecha in Paarl. Photo supplied.

The guacamole at Cosecha in Paarl. Photo supplied.

Señor Onion (Somerset West and Stellenbosch)

This Mexican deli serves up unpretentious feasts to heat-seeking locals. Expect meals of burritos, cheesy quesadillas and tacos filled with spicy beans, chilli con carne or spicy chicken. There are also fajitas, salad baskets and salad wraps for healthy eaters. All dishes can be ordered mild, medium or wild for a real kick.

Tuk Tuk Microbrewery (Franschhoek)

Franschhoek’s stylish microbrewery is a perfect for a spot of Tex-Mex, washed down with craft beer. The made-for-sharing menu features the likes of locally caught ceviche with corn nibs and mango; chilli-lime buffalo wings with a coriander mayo; tuna, beef or mushroom-filled tacos with all the trimmings; or beefy Tex-Mex burgers with guacamole and fries (R70 per plate). End off with a chocolate taco with seasonal berries.

Spiced tuna taco with pico de gallo at Tuk Tuk Microbrewery. Photo supplied.

Spiced tuna taco with pico de gallo at Tuk Tuk Microbrewery. Photo supplied.

Have we missed your favourite Mexican-style eatery? Let us know in the comments below.

Please note that while we take care to ensure that our information is accurate, some items and prices may change without our knowledge.

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