Picture, if you will, your favourite Mexican dish: be it a plate of nachos smothered in cheese, burritos stuffed to the brim with pulled pork, the fresh bite of a good ceviche marinated in lime juice, the spicy, guilty pleasure of the chilli popper … Hungry? Good.
Now, where do you go to find these delectable dishes?
We’ve rounded up some favourite local restaurants serving Mexican and Latin American-inspired food. For the sake of this list, Cuban, Peruvian and Latin American food are also included in this category of flavours because their cuisine includes ingredients like beans, rice, avocado, lime, chillies and peppers, which form part of mainstream Mexican cuisine as we know it today.
It’s true that there might be some debate around the authenticity of some of these restaurants and their menus – but why don’t you discuss it while digging into your tacos? Accompanied by a shot of tequila of course! In the mean time, be sure to let us know if there’s a great eatery in your area that we might not know of.
A perennial favourite among those looking for an authentic Mexican experience, with tequila, frozen margaritas, tacos and all. Also try the indulgent Jalapenos de Lucky Luke: deep-fried Jalapenos with cheese and bacon.
It may be a small franchise (with only one other location) but Mexican Fresh lives up to its name, delivering fresh, fast Mexican food. The buffalo wings served with blue cheese sauce and celery sticks are particularly good.
Mexico Flame Grilled Foods
Here they offer the full gamut of Mexican cuisine, but their tacos are especially worth the trip: delicious corn pockets of sour cream, salsa, cheese and goodness.
Situated in the trendy, revitalised Fox Street in Joburg’s inner city, Mama Mexican is an oasis of fresh, spicy Mexican food. The chilli fries are indulgent but delicious.
Getting a good Mexican meal in Pretoria is harder than it seems. Your best bet is Cubana, which serves a variety of Latin American cuisine, with some Mexican favourites well represented.
Billy the Bums
This is not quite a Mexican restaurant but their menu features classics like nachos, jalapeño poppers and Cajun style chicken.
In the heart of Durban’s trendy restaurant scene, Taco Zulu is offers a Mexican menu with all the classic dishes as well as their special taco pizzas.
Borraccho’s Mexican Restaurant
Borrachos is a colourful restaurant inspired by Mexican villages, vibrant Tijuana nightlife and Latin American parades. The name means ‘drunkard’ in Latin American slang and the menu is inspired by traditional Mexican dishes with extras like spicy burgers.
Besides the cracker-thin stone-fired pizzas, there is a Taco Bar where you can choose your own ingredients such as black beans vinaigrette, chipotle salsa, poblano peppers, refried beans and picadillot (mince) topped with guacamole and sour cream.
Buena Vista Social Café
Enjoy a traditional menu offering an excellent selection of tapas such as the pollo rollo and chilli poppers. Chef Nicholas Casey Cassisa spent time in Miami, Florida, working with Cuban and Mexican food. A good spot for informal get-togethers and parties.
Cantina Tequila Tyger Valley
A vibey spot with Mexican-inspired food.
Cape to Cuba
If the proliferation of Panama hats, cigars and Catholic imagery doesn’t get you into the Cuban swing of things, the comprehensive menu of Cuban eats sure will.
Deez Mexican Restaurant
Mouth-watering Mexican food is served at great prices with lashings of tequila or margaritas. The restaurant also claims to serve the best chilli poppers south of the Mexican border.
This extremely busy hotspot prides itself on authentic Mexican: mole, ceviche, tacos, churros and an array of traditional tequilas. No yellow cheese in sight. Make a reservation way ahead of time.
Peruvian flavours like ceviche; potatoes with lime and chilli, tuna tartare, avo and homemade mayo; and the lomo saltado beef.
A traditional Mexican restaurant that serves fajitas, burritos, chimi changas, enchiladas, soups, salads, platters and much more.
Mexican on Long
The tequila menu is bigger than the food menu, so you know where their expertise lie. Great Mexican cocktails are also on offer, like the classic margarita and a delicious Mexitini with tequila, mandarin vodka and OJ Red and Black.
Enjoy fresh Latin American food bursting with flavours of lime, red onion, coriander and smoky peppers. Take some empañadas home with you.
Pancho’s Mexican Restaurant
This popular spot is famous for their large portions and frozen margaritas in lemon, strawberry or mixed flavours.
Rick’s Café Americain
Latin American-inspired food is served up at this buzzing spot, popular with the locals.
Mexican chef Ricardo Garcia-Aispuro grew up making corn tortillas alongside his mom, so you’re in for the real thing. Enjoy taco de carne asada – laden with fresh guacamole, barbequed meat and chopped onion, and served with soup beans, fresh chilli sauce and salsa – or the crunchy deep-fried chicken flauta, accompanied by salsa verde and red rice.
Tortilla Modern Mexican
Choose your own fresh ingredients that go into a tortilla filled to the brim. There are tacos, salads and chips and guacamole available too.
Zapata Mexican Restaurant
This popular haunt has all the typical TexMex flavours, like spicy nachos with guacamole and delicious tequila cocktails.
Buena Vista Social Café
With four fireplaces and a massive outside garden, this is a great venue with Cuban flavours to match.
True Mexican fare in a modern wine estate setting. Try the selection of bocaditos (small plates) with beef and bean tacos, goat’s cheese and pink onions and citrusy prawns.
Vide & Arte
This Argentinean restaurant has stand-out dishes like tortillas, tapas (including the likes of freshly baked bread, cheeses, olives, black forest ham and caramelised onions) and their chimichurri sauce on the menu.
Chilli Bean Mexican Cantina
This restaurant has a flair for the Mexican culture of spicy foods and tequila.
The Mexican is a regular go-to place for the JBay locals. Popular dishes include enchiladas, tortillas and grilled cheese served on rice with sour cream and guacamole.
Are we missing your favourite Mexican or Latin American spot? Let us know below.