Welcome to a foodie’s guide to the absolute best tacos in Austin, Texas. This is literally
my life’s work months and months of happily devouring tacos in what some consider to be the taco capital of the nation. Before moving to Austin I though I knew what a good taco was, and while I’d experienced some memorable home runs (like #5 on this NYC list, or the tacos from #1 on this list), I had no idea what I was in for.
I get it- it’s extremely trendy to be in love with tacos right now but it’s a bandwagon you want to be on and let me explain why: 1) There is a taco for every occasion. Need a quick, delicious breakfast? Grab a taco. Looking for a surefire dinner option that you and your date will love? Sounds like you need a taco. Looking for something that will deliver over and over? Queue the tacos. 2) The versatility is unreal. You have your authentic Mexican tacos, and then you have Tex Mex tacos, Asian fusion tacos, fancy small plate tacos, the list goes on. 3) Tacos are (for the most part), relatively cheap. It’s a great meal from an economical standpoint. 4) Tacos are so quintessentially Austin, yet amidst a sea of so many options I hope to share with you the absolute best of the best.
How To Find the Best Tacos in Austin
There’s something so serendipitous that happens when you combine a homemade tortilla with delicious fillings/toppings. In order for me to effectively choose the best tacos in Austin, I made some criteria:
- When trying a restaurant or taco joint, I always ordered both a breakfast and a regular lunch/dinner taco. Breakfast tacos are the strength of some restaurants, and at others it’s the lunch and dinner tacos that have the spotlight. I didn’t want to miss out on anything.
- I always asked for the most signature tacos for that particular establishment when I ordered. If a taqueria told me that the chorizo and egg taco was the best, then that’s what I ordered (this is how I typically order eating at any restaurant anyway). This turned out to be great because I tried so many wonderful tacos in my quest for the best tacos in Austin and ended up ordering things I wouldn’t have in the first place.
- I equally love corn and flour tortillas and in Austin, thankfully, you can enjoy the best of both worlds at almost any place whipping up tacos. Some tacos in Austin are served on “locally made” tortillas, both flour and corn. And then other places make their own tortillas in house, which is truly a beautiful thing. If I ever had the option, I ordered the homemade tortillas with my tacos, so that I could have the best experience possible. Often if I was ordering two or more tacos I’d try half on corn and half on flour.
15. Tyson’s Tacos
Tyson’s Tacos screams “Austin” to me in every way from the funky names on the menu to the additions of queso and Sri Racha to several of their tacos, to the smoker situated out back behind the restaurant. Tyson’s is a great place to start while enjoying some of the best tacos in Austin because there’s a little bit of everything. My favorite taco at Tyson’s is hands down the Al Pastor. The meat is smoked and I promise you this taco is love at first bite!
14. Papalote Taco House
Papalote Taco House is a great consistent option for tacos in Austin. They serve delicious tacos at their three locations in town and the menu has everything from al pastor to alambres (grilled steak with bacon, this is their most popular taco) to classic breakfast tacos. The service here is fast and the food is consistent!
13. Joe’s Bakery & Coffee Shop
Joe’s Bakery & Coffee Shop is nothing short of an institution in Austin. They’re known for many things including their case of Mexican baked goods and cheesy enchiladas, but it’s also no doubt a spot for some of the best tacos in Austin. The best tacos at Joe’s are the breakfast tacos and the rumors are true when they tell you the bacon is dredged in flour prior to being cooked to really enhance the texture and flavor. You’re going to love these tacos.
12. Las Trancas
I love Las Trancas for some of the best tacos in Austin that are strictly Mexican. The menu at Las Trancas isn’t like most taco spots in Austin that offer migas and cheese and other Tex Mex offerings (don’t get me wrong, I love these tacos too as you’ll see throughout this post) but there is something so fantastic about an authentic Mexican taco. Las Trancas is the best spot for tacos that are purely carne asada, chicken, or beef tongue (one of the most popular tacos here!).
11. La Condesa
La Condesa is a great spot for fancy tacos in downtown Austin. The beautiful restaurant is a great place for a date night or lunch with girlfriends, and even though you’ll definitely pay more than $2 for these tacos, they’re still fantastically delicious and most definitely some of the best tacos in Austin. The Barbacoa en Mole taco (pictured on left) is my top recommendation for a taco at La Condesa- braised beef short rib with black bean mole, lime pickled onion, and queso fresco.
Behold, my absolute most favorite taco “chain” in the area. There are a lot of local chains that claim to have the best tacos in Austin, but if you’re looking for the best overall experience (great food, consistent fast service) and something that everyone will love, then Tacodeli is your best bet! There are five locations in Austin and all do a fantastic job making my some of my favorite breakfast tacos every day. They serve lunch tacos as well but I personally think that breakfast tacos are the way to go here. Try the The Otto (top taco pictured) for a Tacodeli favorite or the Migas (bottom taco pictured) for an Austin favorite. Don’t forget to sample all of their salsas with your taco order- I could drink the salsa verde!
9. Taco Flats
One of the most unexpected restaurants that makes a spot on our list of best tacos in Austin is tacoflats. Don’t get me wrong- we had heard great things about the tacos here but we didn’t anticipate just how fantastic these tacos would be! Tacoflats serves their tacos in their restaurant and bar with amazing meat and amazing tortillas. Everything is homemade and oh so delicious- the ultimate recipe for a memorable taco. We sampled several and felt that the Gringa (basically an Al Pastor taco but with cheese) was the absolute best. I especially love Taco Flats because this is a GREAT late night option in Austin for tacos. A lot of the options on this list are only available until late afternoon.
There are several reasons to love Fresa’s: 1) Their 9th & Lamar location has a DRIVE THRU. 2) The food here is so fresh and also relatively healthy. You’ll never leave Fresa’s feeling like you just ingested a total gut bomb. 3) The tacos at Fresa’s are unquestionably some of the best tacos in Austin! The “La Fresa” is my personal favorite because it’s filled with their signature achiote chicken and topped with guac, cabbage, grilled onion, cotija cheese, and cilantro. And don’t you dare think about eating at Fresa’s without an order or two of their Mexican Street Corn.
7. Tamale House East
Tamale House East doesn’t just sell tamales- they actually make some of the best Tacos in Austin and you will never regret coming here! I could talk about how wonderful their entire menu is but I’ll save that for another time and admonish you to spend your next Saturday morning out on their gorgeous patio enjoying their migas taco and the breakfast taco with bacon, egg, potato, and cheese. Everything is prepared wonderfully and the potatoes are perfection. Lunch tacos are also great (chicken mole taco is super popular) but the breakfast tacos take the cake here in my experience.
6. Dai Due Taqueria
One of the greatest things to happen to the Austin food scene this past year was the installment of Fareground downtown, which is basically the food court of your dreams. Alongside other fantastic local restaurants, Dai Due has their own taqueria (shockingly called Dai Due Taqueria) in house and the tacos here are hard to forget! True to “Dai Due” form, all of the meats highlighted in the tacos are wild game such as wild boar and venison. The tortillas are truly heavenly, which they make from their own house made masa dough. Of all the tacos the at Dai Due Taqueria are fantastic but my favorite is hands down the Wild Boar Al Pastor.
Many people say that Polvos serves the best Mexican food in town and while I’m not confident I can make the exact same claim, I will tell you is that they serve some of the best tacos in Austin without a doubt! When you walk in you’ll be instantly smitten at the sight of their amazing salsa bar and tortillas being hand made. They have great breakfast and lunch/dinner tacos, and you honestly cannot go wrong with any of the tacos on their menu, but the standout to me is the steak taco! The flavor of this taco is just unreal and the addition of cheese and peppers all on top of a homemade flour tortilla is truly divine.
All hail to the best upscale tacos in town and to one of the best restaurants in the entire city of Austin. Suerte is killing it in the restaurant scene from their incredible house made masa to the gorgeous restaurant to an overall transformative dining experience that you’ll never forget. But the pinnacle of it all (in my experience) is the tacos. The delicious, delectable Suadero Tacos, comprised of confit brisket, black magic oil, and avocado salsa cruda. These tacos aren’t cheap like most others on this list, but they’re most definitely worth every penny. The food at Suerte is served on small plates and is meant to be shared, but it took every ounce of generosity within me to share these with my significant other. Next time we may get our own plate of tacos each!
3. Rosita’s Al Pastor
I am literally salivating just thinking about the glorious tacos from Rosita’s Al Pastor. Situated in a big parking lot, you can find amazing tacos at this food truck just a few blocks from the Colorado River. Everything is fresh and delicious and the homemade flour tortillas here are simply going to blow your mind. Prepared in the taco truck all day long, they’re the perfect foundation for all of the tacos on their menu. The chorizo and egg taco here is on point.
2. Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
Of all of the magical tacos deep in the heart of Texas, the tacos from Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ are not to be missed, and more specifically the Real Deal Holyfield is the taco of every foodie lover’s dreams. It’s a meal by itself with tomato serrano salsa, fried egg, potatoes, bacon, and your choice of brisket or pulled pork all served on a delectably fluffy and homemade flour tortilla. Take the ten minutes to drive just south of downtown for this taco and you’ll never look back.
1. Veracruz All Natural
If I had to choose just ONE taco spot that absolutely kills it in Austin, one place that has mastered both the art of life-changing breakfast and lunch time tacos, one place that I could eat tacos at for the rest of my life, it would be Veracruz All Natural. These tacos are simple yet so flavorful with the perfect bite no matter what you order. I’ve slowly worked my way down their menu and I assure you that everything is delicious but my menu favorites are the Migas Originales and the Al Pastor. You can visit the original food truck location on the east side of town but rest assured that the quality of the tacos at their north and south Austin restaurants are equally as delectable. Don’t even think about trying these tacos without an ice cold glass of mango aguas fresca to wash it all down.