Salt Lake City isn’t a Los Angeles or an Austin when it comes to Mexican food, but we do have several spots that will transport you to one of those cities. We combed through the valley to find the best Mexican food in Salt Lake City and came up with the smattering of excellent restaurants that make up this guide. Whether you’re looking for a sit-down feast, a casual lunch, or a quick snack from a food truck, our guide has you covered.
You’re Going to Love the Best Mexican Restaurants in Salt Lake City
With this compilation of restaurants, we stayed true to more classic and authentic Mexican food, so you won’t find places that focus on fusion food here. Also, this guide does not spotlight tacos, but please check out our SLC taco guide if that’s what you’re after. Now, it’s time to dig in and enjoy the best Mexican restaurants in Salt Lake City!
12. El Cabrito
Charming archways lead you to El Cabrito, an underrated spot for some of the best Mexican food in Salt Lake City. The dining room has plush red booths, perfect for cozying up with a quesadilla, sope, or torta. The quesadillas are crispy and fried, which we really think more quesadillas should aspire to be. The sopes are thinner than others we’ve tried (which isn’t a bad thing!), but are still chewy with crispy edges. The tortas are piled with soft meat, crisp lettuce, and thick slices of pickled jalapeno on squishy, toasted bread. As far as meats go, skip the chicken and go for the asada or barbacoa de chivo.
Chunga’s is a little spot located just west of I-15 with an outdoor patio, making it a perfect choice for breezy spring days and balmy summer nights. There is also a second location on Redwood Road in SLC if you happen to be closer to that one. Chunga’s al pastor is the star of the show, and while tacos are their most popular, we also recommend the enchiladas, smothered in a slightly sweet and tangy green sauce with melted cheese and served with a side of rice and beans.
10. Lone Star Taqueria
Lone Star Taqueria is a Salt Lake City Mexican food classic that is just down the canyon from Big Cottonwood (ideal for a post-ski meal), and has hefty, killer fish tacos. They come with double white corn tortillas loaded with chunks of the featured fish of the day (usually a white fish, but sometimes salmon), shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, lime, and their creamy jalapeno sauce. They do a great job of balancing the quantities and flavors, so you get a little of everything in each bite. If you’re not in a taco mood, Maria’s Plato is another favorite. It comes with a base of rice, topped with pollo asado, and doused with chile verde, jack cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and tortillas on the side.
9. Tortas Y Jugos El Morelense
Nestled inside the Latino Mall is some of the best Mexican food and al pastor in Salt Lake City. This restaurant offers all the standard Mexican offerings, but whatever you decide on, make sure you get the al pastor, which is juicy and salty, cut into large strips with crispy edges. If you want something a little different and more substantial than a taco, try a plate, which is like a deconstructed taco. Tortillas come piled with tons of al pastor, gooey, melty cheese, and chunks of pineapple. Add the spicy house green sauce, salsa, and lots of chopped onions and cilantro, and eat it like a taco or with a knife and fork.
8. El Jaripeo Taco Truck
El Jaripeo Taco Truck, located in a Smith’s parking lot in Rose Park, offers inexpensive Mexican classics like tacos, sopes, quesadillas, burritos, tortas, and nachos. Our top pick is the sopes, which are soft enough that you can cut through them but still have just a bit of crunch. Try the suadero (beef brisket), which has hints of clove, or cabeza (beef cheek), which is soft enough that it falls apart in your mouth. Once you get your food, head to the giant cooler to pile on the salsas (we especially love the spicy and creamy avocado salsa), radishes, and limes. Temper the spice with the horchata—it’s thicker and more cinnamony than other horchatas we’ve tried.
7. Big Tortas
This restaurant lives up to its name—these tortas are Very Big and packed to the brim. If you’re in the mood for lots of meat, the Sur 39 is the way to go. It’s loaded with beefsteak, thinly sliced ham, crispy chorizo, thick-cut bacon, AND a porkchop, plus peppers, onions, and Oaxaca cheese. That sandwich checks lots of boxes, but you can find pretty much any combo you like, including sandwiches with pineapple, roasted pork leg, hot dogs, or eggs. Douse each bite in the jalapeno (our favorite) or chipotle sauce.
6. Nana’s Sonoran Hot Dogs
Praise Robert and Karissa Ledezma, the couple who brought the hot dogs you didn’t know you needed to SLC’s food scene. Robert grew up with these hot dogs (which originated in Mexico and have a big presence in Arizona) as a significant part of his food culture. When he moved to Utah, he couldn’t imagine a life without easy access to these hot dogs, so he and his wife opened a food truck. Try the Sonoran hot dog first—it’s a bacon-wrapped grilled hot dog, topped with beans, cheese, grilled onions, and tomatoes and served on a barely sweet and fluffy bun that comes from an old Mexican recipe. We also recommend the Arizona—topped with grilled onions, tomatoes, green chile nacho cheese, and your choice of Hot Cheetos or Ruffles. The best way to stay up on their schedule and truck location is to follow their Instagram @nanas_hotdogs.
5. Chile Tepin
Chile Tepin is a spacious restaurant located near downtown SLC with cacti and plants lining the walls underneath the expansive windows. But you’re not here for the decor or ambiance—you’re here for some of the best Mexican food in Salt Lake City, specifically the Parrillada. Served on a giant cast-iron platter, you’ll get grilled chicken, steak, and shrimp served alongside a roasted jalapeno, grilled onion, and quesadillas oozing with beans and cheese. Stuff your quesadilla with the bounty from the platter, and spoon some of the saucy pinto beans (made with hot dogs, chorizo, and bacon) on top or to the side. Order a side of cactus in a tomatillo sauce—it adds some tartness and balances the saltiness of the meat and beans. This is a lot of food to work your way through, so bring a friend or two to share!
4. El Paisa Grill
The facade of El Paisa Grill may be underwhelming, but the inside is brimming with colorful decor, orange walls, and optical illusions. Think Saul Goodman’s office on the outside; Pirates of the Caribbean Cantina on the inside. You’ll even get a firework candle if you go on your birthday and there’s live music on the weekends! And while all of this is fun, what you’re really here for is the Molcajete Supreme. Chunks of beef and chicken come sizzling in a cauldron bubbling over the shrimp resting on the rim, with green sauce, nopalitos, queso fresco, and a juicy jalapeno alongside tortillas. We also love the queso fundido—a blend of monterey jack and queso fresco topped with slices of fresh jalapeno and slivers of grilled onions, browned and slightly caramelized on the edges. This is the perfect thing to snack on while watching whatever is on one of the many TVs, chatting with friends, and waiting for the molcajete.
3. Los Tapatios
Los Tapatios has the best birria in Salt Lake City, which is exactly why you’re here. Whether you get a quesadilla or taco, pair it with the birria and add a side of the consome for dipping. With notes of allspice and cloves, it tastes like a cozy Christmas dinner that we crave year-round. We especially love the mulita — crispy, crunchy tortillas sandwiching succulent beef and lots of gooey, melty cheese (we appreciate a Mexican place that puts almost too much cheese). Dunk it in the consome (don’t worry, you’ll still get plenty of crunch), to make the birria even juicier and more flavorful. Don’t pass on the salsa bar or the tart pickled onions, which cut through the richness of the birria perfectly.
2. Red Iguana
Red Iguana is an SLC mainstay, and for good reason. With honorable mentions and awards spanning from Bon Appetit to the Mayor of Flavortown himself, you can’t go wrong at one of the best Mexican restaurants in Salt Lake City. We recommend Red Iguana’s top selling dish: Puntas de Filete a la Norteña. A bed of smoky almond mole is topped with top sirloin tips, ribbons of fatty bacon, slices of jalapenos and onions, and chunks of fresh tomato. We also love the Enchiladas Suizas—corn tortillas layered with sour cream chicken and avocado, topped with sour cream and melted cheese. They come swimming in mole poblano, which is made with chiles, peanuts, sesame, walnuts, raisins, bananas, AND Mexican chocolate. All of this is a long-winded way to tell you that whatever you order, prioritize a dish with mole because that’s where Red Iguana really shines.
1. La Casa Del Tamal
La Casa del Tamal is always busy and bustling, and so it’s no wonder why they offer the very best Mexican food in Salt Lake City. It may be obvious, but start with the tamales. Follow your heart and order whatever flavor profile you tend to love because you truly can’t go wrong. All the tamales have fresh and flavorful meat and/or veggies, surrounded by smooth masa. Next, move onto the Tacos de Birria con Consome. This birria is made fresh daily and has hints of tomato, and gets its robust flavor thanks to a six-hour simmer. We also love the Torta Cubana, stuffed with fried, breaded steak, ham, sausage, eggs, and chorizo. It’s a lot, so this is a good one to split. Whatever you order, dip it in their house salsas—the smoky red salsa heightens the flavor of anything you eat.