ATXGuide

The Best Tacos In Austin

From traditional Mexican tacos, breakfast tacos, gourmet duck confit tacos, birria tacos, a complete guide to the best tacos in Austin.
The Best Tacos In Austin image

photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

In Austin, tacos are a full-on food group. Everyone has their own go-to’s, but a select few taco spots are objectively in a class of their own. Whether you’re looking for traditional Mexican tacos, breakfast tacos, gourmet duck confit tacos, birria tacos, or cauliflower al pastor tacos, we’ve pulled together a guide to the very best tortilla-wrapped foods in Austin. Each place on this list offers its own unique contribution to the taco category, and all of them are more than worth a trip. It’s about time you found a new favorite.

THE TACO SPOTS

photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

Mexican

East Austin

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDrinking Good WineGluten-Free OptionsKeeping It Kind Of HealthyOutdoor/Patio Situation
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Nixta Taqueria might best be known for their nixtamalized blue corn tortillas and their very delicious duck carnitas taco, a mainstay of their menu. What sets Nixta even further apart is that a lot of the menu leans vegetarian and sometimes even vegan. A lot of flavor gets coaxed out of vegetables here—we’re especially big fans of the roasted cauliflower taco with romesco, as well as the beet “tartare” tostada with avocado crema and salsa macha that’s almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

What to get: Duck carnitas taco; Cauliflower taco


Joe’s Bakery & Coffee Shop is an East Side staple that’s been around since 1962 serving exceptional Tex-Mex/Mexican diner food (and the pan dulce, too). We’re big fans of the breakfast tacos here, made with fluffy house-made flour tortillas. Get the miga taco con todo, with still-crispy tortilla chips, as well as the super-crispy bacon that defies all the laws of pork belly physics. And don’t miss the super-tender carne guisada taco, here made with pork.

What to get: Miga taco con todo; Bacon, egg, and cheese taco; Carne guisada taco


Cuantos Tacos specializes in Mexico City-style tacos, consisting of a double layer of tiny corn tortillas filled with a few different meat options (plus a mushroom one). Ask five friends what their favorite is and you’ll end up with five different answers, but the suadero and cachete are our favorites, along with the weekly lengua special. The tacos are small enough that you can try them all if you’re up for it. Just ask them for one of each then get ready to enjoy an excellent taco sampler platter. And as much as we love the corn tortillas they use here, it’s absolutely worth trying a quesadilla on flour as well—we’ve found that the champinoñes do a great job of balancing out all the cheese. 

What To Get: Suadero taco; Cachete taco; Champiñones quesadilla


Con Todo serves “comida frontera” inspired by the food in the Rio Grande Valley, which means barbacoa, carne asada, alambre, queso flameado, bistec estilo Matamoros, and more. It’s this hyper-regional focus, combined with obvious skill and technique, that results in small but ridiculously delicious tacos, all served on supple homemade corn tortillas and topped with intensely flavorful and spicy salsas.

What To Get: Barbacoa; Bistec estilo Matamoros; Chori papa tostada


The fish tacos at the East Austin seafood-focused Mexican restaurant Este are some of the best you’ll find in the city. All on supple house-made corn tortillas, each taco gets a masa-battered and fried strip of swordfish that’s somehow crispy yet delicate at the same time. Pick the tacos up, and they’re impossibly light and airy, defying all the known laws of fish, fry, and gravity. Just have a cocktail handy—you'll need it to put out the heat from the fiery habanero-piquin hot sauce.

What to get: Fish tacos


Hiding in the parking lot of Michi Ramen are some of our favorite tacos in Austin. The carnitas are sous vide, and the refried beans are lentils, but this blend of contemporary techniques with traditional flavors bridges a gap we didn’t know Austin needed. There are a ton of salsa varieties here that seem to change out almost daily, including some of our favorite salsa macha in town. Show up on Saturdays to get the trompo al pastor, or show up any day they’re open for some excellent carnitas, bistek, and nopalitos. 

What to get: Bistec taco; Carnitas taco; Nopalitos taco


This trailer churns out a beautiful fusion of our city’s greatest cuisines: Tex-Mex and barbecue. Their smoked brisket taco with guacamole and a tomato serrano salsa raised the bar for all who try to follow in its wake. Getting it as a breakfast taco with a fried egg (and potatoes and refried beans) should be illegal, but instead is standard morning practice here. 

What to get: Real Deal Holyfield breakfast taco; Smoked brisket taco


The suadero tacos at Suerte have developed a cult-like following, due in equal parts to the tender, confit brisket, the house-made nixtamalized corn tortillas, and something called black magic oil. What’s black magic oil, you might ask? It’s a secret, which basically just means that they don’t even know. What we do know is that it’s garlicky, funky, a little spicy, and we’d put it on everything if we could. Tacos come four to an order, so bring some friends or make a meal out of it (they’re pretty small). 

What to get: Suadero tacos


The default and best way to order the epic carnitas at El Guero here is "surtido," and you'll get a mix of the slow-cooked meats—pork butt, ribs, belly, stomach, and skin—all chopped to order. Or you can get it however you want: lean, fatty, extra skin, or no skin. While the orden personal is technically shareable, you won’t want to. It comes with a half pound of carnitas, a mess of corn tortillas, two kinds of salsa (a green tomatillo and a smoky red chipotle), pickled onions, cilantro, lime, and a small, crispy doradita. There are a couple of locations of Carnitas El Guero in Austin: a small, cash-only affair in a gas station in South Austin in Stassney Lane, and one on North Lamar that has a full kitchen (with an expanded menu) and a liquor license. There’s even a San Antonio location now.

What to get: Carnitas: either the orden personal, or by the pound


photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

$$$$Perfect For:Cheap EatsQuick Eats

As Steve Jobs one said: “Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well.” This is the mantra at Discada, where they only offer a single taco blending marinated beef, pork, and veggies that have been cooked on a large wok-like apparatus called a discada and served on a corn tortilla. They come topped with onion, cilantro, and pineapple, and they’re delicious. If you’re the indecisive type, the only choice you’ll have to make is if you’ll be ordering three, five, or eight, followed by whether or not you’ll be ordering more.

What To Get: Discada taco 


Autenticos Michoacanos is a food trailer located in a parking lot near Menchaca Dr (and Stassney), with a wide menu of tacos, tortas, quesadillas, machetes, and just about anything else you can fit inside of a tortilla, including quesabirria with consomé. We’re especially partial to the campechano tacos here that pack a savory mix of beef and pork into some excellent house-made corn tortillas.

What to get: Campechano taco; Quesabirria taco


We really like when places focus on doing one thing exceptionally well, and at La Santa Barbacha, barbacoa takes center stage. The tender shredded beef is slow-cooked and intensely aromatic, and really pops with the bright contrast of fresh cilantro and white onions. Tacos are the focus here, and they’re served on bright green and red tortillas. You can also get the barbacoa on sopes, in chilaquiles bowls, and in quesadilla form. Whatever vessel you choose, you’ll want to add some fiery habanero salsa that adds a fruity and very spicy punch into each bite.

What to get: Barbacoa tacos; Quesabarbacha


Vaquero Taquero by campus makes some of our favorite breakfast tacos in Austin, and they’ve since opened a second spot downtown. Both locations serve some of our favorite al pastor in town. Cooked on a trompo, the meat is savory, spicy, and charred and it’s served on either handmade corn or flour tortillas and topped with an expert combination of salsa verde, avocado crema, onions, cilantro, and pineapple. Every once in a while they do beef on the trompo downtown, and you should very much get it.

What to get: Al pastor tacos; Breakfast tacos


The simple menu at De Nada Cantina on East Cesar Chavez consists of about a dozen lunch and breakfast tacos, all served on housemade blue corn tortillas. And when the tacos are as tasty and reliable as De Nada’s, simple is very good. We like to get the fish taco here—it comes topped with pickled pineapples that provide a sweet and salty balance to the thick slabs of seared gulf fish—and round it out with a carnitas taco topped with salsa macha. This is also one of the better places in town to get crispy shell tacos outside of your favorite fast food “taqueria,” AKA Taco Bell


photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

$$$$Perfect For:Late Night Eats

In a parking lot at Rundberg and Lamar, Tacos El Charly is a cash-only taco truck that doesn’t even open until 7pm. It’s open super late, and there’s almost always a crowd. All the classic fillings are covered here, but the al pastor is the reason to keep coming back. Cooked on a trompo, the al pastor gets shaved thin, crisped up to order, and packed with layers upon layers of flavor. The tacos are small and served on a double corn tortilla—there’s also a self-serve salsa, onion, and cilantro bar. Grab a seat at one of the folding tables in the parking lot after making it through the inevitable line (it moves very fast).

What to get: Al pastor tacos on corn (mini or regular); Gringa al pastor (if you like flour tortillas and cheese). 


photo credit: Richard Casteel

The tacos at Palo Seco (formerly known as La Tunita 512) are excellent, and the chili and lime-infused consomé is so good that we’ve debated if it’s socially acceptable to carry around a small flask of it. They usually have a limited menu of rotating specials and tortas here, but most of the people anxiously lined up are here for the beef birria tacos or the quesabirria, the latter of which adds a signature spin on things by frying the cheese directly on the griddle before going into its tortilla blanket. The end result is truly something to look at, and even better to taste. 

What to get: Birria and quesabirra tacos


photo credit: Taylor Hannan

$$$$Perfect For:Cheap Eats

El Perrito in South Austin serves El Paso-style food, something of a rarity in Austin. Get the very good tacos ahogados, in which fried flautas—filled with shredded chicken or ground beef and potato—get doused in a spicy tomato-based chile sauce, sprinkled with cheese, and then topped with a salsa verde. The red chile sauce is so delicious you’ll want to drink it on its own. We’re also fans of their griddled, crispy tacos topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, and grated Muenster-style cheese.

What to get: Tacos ahogados; Crispy taco


The migas taco at Veracruz All-Natural sets the bar for all other migas tacos. Like Super Mario Bros. 3 or the brisket at Franklin Barbecue, they’re best-in-class—a legend. What makes these migas tacos so much better than all the other ones out there? The ingredients (they make their own tortilla chips), the execution, and the attention to detail (they take their time cooking things). Veracruz has multiple locations, and you’re probably going to have to wait in line no matter which one you go to. But just know these tacos are always worth it.

What to get: Migas originales; Migas poblanas


A lot of people will tell you to head to CJ’s Tacos near Burleson and Ben White for birria tacos. And while you can get great versions of them—with or without griddled cheese—we’re here for the fish tacos. The fish packs a delicate flavor, with flaky, tender meat, and the crispy batter serves as the perfect contrast to the fluffy corn tortilla holding it all together. Top it with a bit of sweet mango pico and some creamy chipotle mayo, and you’ve got one of the best fish tacos in town. 

What to get: Fish taco


photo credit: Taylor Hannan

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastLunch

El Tacorrido has multiple locations around town, and more likely than not there will be a line of cars backed up in the drive thru because yes, the tacos are that good (as are the actually spicy salsas). The breakfast tacos might not win any awards, but they’re consistent, dependable, and very affordable. We’re most impressed with their dedication to the many varieties of pork-based tacos, including a textbook carnitas taco and the revuelta taco—a triumvirate that combines cuerita, buche, and carnitas, all into a textural and flavorful triumph.

What to get: Carnitas taco; Revuelta taco


Unless you’ve been to Granny’s—or have your own grandmother with a family recipe for excellent mole and chilaquiles—there’s a good chance you haven’t had a breakfast taco quite like their chilaquil taco. Here crispy corn chips in a fluffy flour tortilla get topped with a spicy and earthy house-made mole, cotija cheese, onion, and pickled jalapeno. Unlike its more popular breakfast cousin, migas, this is an eggless taco. But after a few of those ultra-savory and crunchy bites, you’ll forget eggs ever existed. 

What to get: Chilaquil taco


photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

Las Trancas is one of Austin’s favorite spots for late-night tacos, and their close proximity to downtown on Cesar Chavez makes them perfect for soaking up a few drinks after a long night out, without sacrificing on flavor. Regardless of the sun’s location, Las Trancas has made a name for themselves by offering a pretty extensive menu of tacos, tortas, and quesadillas, and doing them all well. There are a lot of solid options here, but you should definitely make some crispy tripas, lengua, and carnitas tacos a part of your order.

What to get: Crispy tripas; Lengua; Carnitas; Campechano tacos


photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

$$$$Perfect For:Cheap Eats

Tacos al vapor aren’t a style we’ve seen a lot of in Austin, which makes it especially exciting when one of the city’s few options is a great one. The tacos here—first stuffed with a thin layer of meat, then seasoned, fried, and steamed until they become soft and flexible—pack a lot of flavor into a small, corn tortilla envelope. We like the chicharron and the dishebrada de res (shredded beef), but they’re small enough that you can probably sample most of the options, then come back again later and get a whole second plate of your favorite.

What to get: Tacos al vapor with chicharron or deshebrada de res; Lengua taco


photo credit: Taylor Hannan

$$$$Perfect For:Late Night Eats

When you’re drunk at a bar downtown, all tacos are good tacos. And for that reason, we had to make a follow-up visit to Asador after we woke up the next morning reminiscing on dreams of crispy, griddled brisket tacos. There are three locations downtown—Buford’s, Las Perlas, and on Rainey—so the tacos here clearly cater to a post-bar clientele. But we can confirm after an evening of nothing but Topo Chicos that they live up to our memories. They’re far better than they need to be, and for that we’re extremely grateful.

What to get: Brisket taco; Grilled chicken taco


photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

$$$$Perfect For:Cheap Eats

In a small dusty lot next to an auto repair shop in South Austin, you’ll find Taqueria Hugo. It’s easy to miss, and even harder to park when it gets busy, but once you try your first bite of their suadero taco, its gravitational pull will guide you back, time and again. Suadero can be a tough cut, so it’s often confited or braised, but here it’s chopped into large chunks and fried, with hearty portions of fat creating some rich, decadent bites. All of the tortillas here are made in-house, but the corn in particular act as firm, but pliable blankets that catch all the juicy parts of the filling. 

What to get: Suadero taco


Existing as equal parts panaderia and taqueria, Mi Tradicion wears many hats, and it wears them well. There are some really interesting specialties—including a plate-sized taco stuffed with rice, beans, and a fried chile relleno—but our favorite here is the bistek. It’s seasoned well and cut just thick enough to keep each bite juicy without getting chewy. After you eat just a few too many, stop at the bakery and grab some excellent conchas for the drive home.

What to get: Bistek tacos, chile relleno tacos de arroz 


On the corner of Dessau and Rundberg, Ken's Subs, Tacos, & More is a true neighborhood gem that’s been around since 1989, known best perhaps for their huge and affordable breakfast tacos. Their old-school crispy tacos—with ground beef, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese—are an absolute delight, a crunchy and rich and satisfying experience. Each crispy taco is an astonishing $1.49, which means you should get at least three. The carne guisada, carnitas, and enchiladas are solid bets here, too.

What to get: Crispy tacos; Breakfast tacos; Carne guisada


Waiting in lines for food is basically a sport in Austin. There’s often a very good reason for the line—and at El Primo’s it’s the fantastic breakfast tacos. Like moths to a light, people are powerless to the migas tacos (the default version is made with deli ham, which is pretty unique to this place) and the homemade chorizo and egg. You’ll see crowds waiting patiently for their orders while traffic whizzes by on South First.

What to get: Migas (with ham); Chorizo and egg

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Suggested Reading

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The Best Breakfast Tacos In Austin

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