The Best Tacos In Houston

A guide for Taco Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or any other day, really, because why limit yourself?
The Best Tacos In Houston image

Eating your way through Houston’s endless taco landscape could last until the Rockets make it to the finals again. Everyone here either “knows a guy” for birria or barbacoa or has an in at the carniceria for carnitas. If you don't have a local pastor-pusher or want to branch out, here’s your guide.


photo credit: Richard Casteel


East End

$$$$Perfect For:Impressing Out of TownersQuick EatsLate Night EatsDrinking Good Beer
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Something about the way Tacos La Sultana’s taquero thoughtfully slices charred pork from the trompo is deeply romantic—like watching a violinist at the peak of their craft. The pork, with pockets of sweet, caramelized fat and a sweet paprika crust, could be eaten by itself. You almost forget about adding any cilantro, onion, or spicy green salsa (but you should). Order more tacos than you may be able to physically ingest, and wait on the patio or at the dive bar next door.

El Taconazo has been holding down its little corner of Fulton on the Northside for years. Known for always having a line, the cash-only truck cranks out more tacos than seems physically possible. Once ordered, everything is cooked, bagged, and placed in front of the window in about three seconds, no matter the choice of filling (fajita, barbacoa, al pastor, and lengua are the options). Everything has a smoky and satisfying char and nothing is ever over- or undercooked. These tacos are worth the wait.

Cochinita & Co. in the East End serves a menu full of Mexican tostadas, tamales, and rice bowls, but the best thing on it is (you guessed it) the cochinita pibil. The Yucatán-style roast pork isn’t easy to find in Houston, which makes Cochinita & Co. a special spot. Here cochinita is marinated in a traditional way with citrus and peppery achiote. Once roasted, every square inch of shredded, tender pork tastes tangy and smoky. When you finish, getting another order feels like the only logical next step.

Tio Trompo in Rice Military is our go-to spot whenever we’re near Buffalo Bayou Park. An unassuming counter-service joint, we like to pass the time by watching glistening slices of pork get carved from a trompo (and fiddling with the adorable floral tablecloths). To make the most of your Tio Trompo experience, get a three-taco platter and dedicate two of those slots to the crispy al pastor tacos and the sizzling shredded barbacoa. Tio Trompo also has a slew of breakfast taco combinations that are available all day.

Everyone in the East End knows to grab breakfast tacos at Villa Arcos. The tiny red shack on Navigation has been a neighborhood favorite since 1977. It supplies stuffed breakfast tacos (also known as “The Super”) to the mostly-washed masses of local blue-collar workers, politicians, and people who recently moved from Montrose. Not much beats opening up hastily wrapped aluminum foil to reveal a pillow-soft flour tortilla overflowing with thick hunks of bacon, eggs, cheese, beans, and potatoes. Well, except maybe opening up another one filled with chorizo.

There’s nothing like a stripped cow skull in a parking lot to let you know how seriously a place takes its craft. Such is the case of Gerardo’s Drive In, a weekend-only spot that’s been cooking barbacoa on the Northside since the late ‘70s. You won’t find better, or more skillfully made, barbacoa in town. It’s smoky, rich, and has a concentrated beef flavor from the restaurant’s slow-steaming process. Operating as both a taqueria and meat market, you can order meat by the pound, an entire cow’s head to-go for about $100, or just some tacos to eat right there.

Locals know that making it through the order line at Laredo Taqueria in Washington Heights unscathed is a Houston right of passage. This place has a lot of posted rules. The most prevalent (and important): every taco automatically comes on fresh flour tortillas. While you can ask for corn (this must be done, somehow, before you get to the counter), we don’t recommend it. Embrace the flour life, and then stuff that tortilla full of whatever you want, but especially fatty barbacoa, spicy pollo guisado, or fluffy eggs and bacon.

Taqueria Monchy’s is small but mighty. The tiny counter-service spot in the East End doubles as a bus station, and serves tacos on handmade flour and corn tortillas. Try the rajas con queso on cushion-soft corn tortillas and whatever’s available for breakfast on flour. And while Monchy’s opens at 5am nearly every day of the week, go there for lunch on Tuesdays to grab any seven tacos for $1.50 each.

You’ll find Clutch City Grill parked in the lot of Spring Street Bar & Social Garden in the First Ward. There’s a little bit of everything coming out of this food truck, but the tacos are why you’re here. The sizzling carne asada, pollo asado, and plant-based proteins all come with a dose of raw white onions, a handful of cilantro, and a sprinkle of cheese. Like any respectable taco, the meat’s heat level is set to spicy, but if you need to feel your eyes water when you take a bite, add some of Clutch City’s diablita sauce into the mix.

Tacos Doña Lena in Spring Branch is all about the birria. While the ultra-colorful spot has a number of fillings, it specializes in cheese-stuffed versions of birria—from street tacos served with a bowl of rich consomé, to quesabirrias stuffed with meat and cheese that stretches halfway across the room. Get enough consomé-soaked tacos to share, or enough to try every one of Doña Lena’s six salsas, like the extra fiery mocosa habanero.

This Mexico City-style taqueria at the back of Houston Farmers Market makes so many tacos, that we assume they decided to make the menu dim-sum style to avoid confusion. Like most dim sum spots, ordering starts by numbering items on a double-sided menu and sliding it to the edge of the table for someone to grab. Hot plates of arrachera and thin pineapple-laced pastor arrive almost immediately. Try every kind of meat there is, as each one is charred, smoky, and tender. The food is so good, you’ll want to double-back through the market to eat at Comalito all over again.

Cantina Barba off North Main might be best known for serving late-night tacos to beer-soaked barflies and service industry professionals, or to anyone near The Heights who just wants a taco. Order mesquite-smoked pork, adobo-simmered barbacoa, chicken with guajillo, or any breakfast taco combination, because the entire menu is served all day (and night) long. Sit at the small bar with a frozen mezcal margarita, or hang out on Barba’s ever-rearranging patio until 3am on the weekends.

As a surprise to no one, the Birria Queen handles all things birria. The Third Ward taco truck dishes out crispy birria tacos loaded with your choice of carne asada, chicken, or a vegan option. Every taco comes overflowing with cheese and filling. And while most people take their tacos to-go, we like to park ourselves on the nearest picnic table to dip the tacos into the hearty consomé as soon as possible. Whatever style of taco you decide on, commit to a little fire breathing and get some jalepeño crema sauce on the side.

Tacos Tierra Caliente, also known as That Taco Truck Next To West Alabama Ice House, feeds everyone from icehouse patrons grabbing a cold beer to anyone who needs a taco or two after 10pm on the weekends. Between the seared corn tortillas, mountain of cilantro and onion, and spicy salsa verde, Tierra Caliente has built a reliable reputation as a solid Montrose taco truck, as well as the best (and closest) spot to grab a handheld snack between rounds of corn hole on West Alabama’s patio. Bring cash and choose between griddled fillings like fajita, pastor, barbacoa, and chicharron.

At Fusion Taco in The Heights anything—seriously, anything—can, should and probably already is a taco. With a name like Fusion Taco, it’s hard to imagine what’s not served there. If you guessed tacos stuffed with Thai-style chicken, lamb keema, falafel, and fried oysters with ranch slaw, then, congratulations, you might be psychic or some kind of taco remix master. Order any number of taco concoctions as you like at the counter, don’t forget a frozen margarita, and split some queso or even hummus with a few friends. Post up on the patio or inside Fusion’s very orange dining room for a truly novel combination of taco flavors.

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