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A Beginner's Guide To The Best Tex-Mex In Austin

PHOTO: Jordan Haro

Tex-Mex isn't just Austin's "thing" - it's one of the most important parts of the city. In case we need to remind you, (good) Tex-Mex can truly only be found in Texas, and Austin is the best city to eat it in.

Whether you just moved to Austin, are visiting, or you just need a refresher - here's where you start when attempting to eat all of the city's best Tex-Mex. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

the spots


One of the last remaining South Congress institutions leftover from a time before everyone and their fourth cousins moved to Austin. Come for margaritas, live music, and their tamale plate doused in queso. Beware, this place gets packed on weekends and evenings during happy hour.

El Chile Cafe y Cantina

1809 Manor Rd

One of the best Tex-Mex experiences in town. By 6pm there will be a wait - but don’t let that scare you away. Their drinks are strong, and their food is a little lighter than the super- traditional Matt's El Rancho or Maudie's.

Photo: Jordan Haro

Old-school neighborhood vibes, with particularly great enchiladas and a queso that’s one of our all-time favorites. They run one of the best happy hours in town - try their (very smooth) Joe’s Margarita or their spicy margarita.

Photo: Jordan Haro

El Patio

2938 Guadalupe St

This Tex-Mex joint is old as sh*t and proud of it. It’s so old that they don’t even serve tortilla chips (but you can have Saltines instead). Located in the thick of The Drag, it gets overlooked for Trudy’s, which is far less cool and historical. The fact that you probably won’t have to wait is just another reason you need to try this dusty old gem. Our order is always the enchiladas.

Photo: Joe Wolf/Flickr

El Alma Cafe y Cantina

1025 Barton Springs Rd

This place is a little pricey for a Tex-Mex spot, but you also get a classier product for your money. While most spots on this list fall somewhere on the spectrum of no-frills to straight-up grimey, El Alma is borderline “cute” and the dishes are more elevated versions of the greasy classics you’re used to. If the idea of a “pricier Tex-Mex spot” horrifies you, try El Alma during their happy hour so you can capitalize on the discounted drinks and appetizers.


Curra’s is an excellent marriage of Tex-Mex and interior Mexican food, which makes for a broader and more interesting menu than most of the other places on this list. They have two excellent quesos - go the flameado route if you’re feeling adventurous. The avocado margarita is a must.


You come to Polvos for the dirt cheap margs, a no-bullsh*t attitude, and the all-you-can-eat salsa bar. We love it here. Come with a crew, get drunk, and eat all the food. Go heavy on the fajitas.

Photo: Jordan Haro


4230 Duval St

This is the least cool Tex-Mex joint in town, which somehow makes it the coolest. It’s located in Hyde Park near several other restaurants that steal its thunder. Meaning it’s your ultimate go-to when you want Tex-Mex, and you don’t want to wait for it.

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