Chipotle was one of my favorite takeout places. There was just something about a Chipotle burrito that could turn a whole day around. But just when Chipotle seemed destined to take off and set the trend for fast food ’round the world, gravity sent the company back down to Earth.
If you’ve been keeping up with the Chipotle news, you’d know that Chipotle has been fighting E. coli and norovirus outbreaks. Now, federal investigations have brought the company to its knees. Company stock is tumbling, people are getting sick, and there is definitely an atmosphere of fear, even amongst diehard fans like myself. Although it seems like Chipotle may finally be E. coli free, it might be time to pick a new favorite.
So I got started thinking, “hey, Chipotle isn’t the only place around that serves delicious burritos and guac!” There are lots of locally-owned restaurants that provide the same insane food without fear of catching some gastrointestinal ish. Here are our favorites:
1. Tacos Tequila Whiskey – Denver, CO
This place has humble beginnings: it started as a food truck labeled “Pinche Tacos” (which literally translates to “Fuckin’ Tacos”) and those in the know adored it so much the truck attracted a near-cult following. Nowadays, it’s an actual restaurant, serving the most authentic Mexican north of the border. It’s absolutely worth a visit if you’re in the Mile High City area. For more delicious Mexican food options in Denver, check out this post.
2. Toloache – New York City, NY
This place serves your typical Mexican fare along with some delicious South American specials, including ceviche and sopa de mariscos. But they’ve also shaken up classic dishes with twists like truffle quesadillas and duck carnitas with fig salsa. Sound interesting? Go! Want to know what else is good in the Big Apple? Check out these places.
3. Oyamel Cocina Mexicana – Washington, DC
Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Capitol building, dine with your local senators and congressmen at this cute little Mexican place, which makes the best guacamole ever. We swear. They even use traditional guacamole making bowls from Oaxaca, Mexico you can’t buy anywhere else. Plus, you can even try their unique creations, like cactus salad, and decide for yourself if eating a prickly plant is for you. Want more eats in the capital? Read this.
4. Fonda San Miguel – Austin, TX
No one does Tex-Mex like, well, Texas. Want chili con queso like they make in Chihuahua? You got it. Ceviche? Yup. Tortilla soup with chicken? Check. The restaurant actually opened back in the 70s when Tex-Mex began to get popular in the states. So is Fonda San Miguel one of the OG Tex-Mex joints in America? Probably. It’s like taking a taste of America’s soul. Delicious. For more delicious food in Austin, check out this post.
5. Guisados Tacos – Los Angeles, CA
They claim to have the best tacos in the LA area… You be the judge. This place likes to take it back to the basics, and we definitely can appreciate the minimalism. Their classic dish is a big hit with the local foodie scene, who continue to return for Guisados’s classic tortillas stuffed with slow-braised meats. For more taco lovin’ in LA, see what’s good here.
6. Las Cuatro Milpas – San Diego, CA
Being right next to Tijuana and the Mexican border definitely has its perks. For one, San Diego gets some of the most authentic Mexican food, and we dig it. This old-school Mexican restaurant has built a following on their homemade tortillas and their picnic-style dining tables. It’s perfect for those (many) sunny San Diego days. But don’t stop there! There’s many, many more things to eat in San Diego.
7. Surf Taco – Belmar, NJ
West coast, best coast? Nah. The East Coast is the best of ’em all. And so is Surf Taco, handily located just a short walk away from one of Central NJ’s most popular beaches: Belmar. Parking may be scarce come Memorial Day, and the waits may be out-the-door long, but there’s no contest where the best Mex is around. Try the variety of different salsas at their salsa bar (there’s four original flavors for all tastes, from super mild to super hot). For more good Mon Co. eats, read this.
8. Frontera Grill – Chicago, IL
The busy flagship restaurant of chef Rick Bayless, you’ll find seating rather scarce if you don’t make a reservation. But it’ll be well worth the trouble. In 1994, it was ranked the world’s third best casual dining restaurant by the New York Times, and, in 2011, the Chicago Sun Times called it “a study in the art of Mexican cookery.” But the Windy City offers many more delicious treats; to discover some of its gems, check out this article.
9. Raging Burrito – Decatur, GA
This amazing eatery near Atlanta, Georgia offers more than 50 types of tequila and many types of craft beer. Yeah, you read that right: 50. They also offer a seriously good burrito, and all y’all familiar with the ATL definitely need to know about this place, ASAP.
10. Mamacita – San Francisco, CA
“Toto, we aren’t in San Fran anymore,” goes the famous quote from Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Once you step through the doors of Mamacita, you’ll be instantly transported from its hilly streets to the courtyard of a little village in Mexico. At least that’s what it feels like anyway. Be transported to blue skies and a little adobe house kitchen, and habla some Espanol, si? But there’s way more to San Francisco. Check out its awesome street food here.
11. Mary & Tito’s Cafe – Albuquerque, NM
Where better to get quality Mexican food than in New Mexico? For all those in the know, this cafe is a local fixture and known for providing goodies like their amazing red chiles, tamales, and chiles rellenos. Heck, yeah.
12. La Taquiera – San Francisco, CA
What? San Fran again, you say? Yes. This place has recently been named the ““Best Burrito Place in America” by Five Thirty-Eight after an extensive nationwide search. A pretty big deal if you ask me. Buh-bye, Chipotle. See ya later.
13. Calexico – New York, NYC
Calexico is the brainchild of three brothers who moved from California to the Big Apple and missed their local cuisine, so they decided to bring it to NYC! And boy, are we happy that they did. After a Martha Stewart show appearance, they hit the big time, and their trademark marinated steak burrito became embedded in the NY food scene. Are you a NY food lover (perhaps even a food snob)? Read this.
14. Chile Pepper – Yuma, AZ
The Chile Pepper first opened its doors way back in 1954, so you know it’s gotta be good if it has lasted so long. This chilled out, drive-through place serves casual Mexican so you can enjoy the vibe without worrying about whether or not you’ve got guac on your t-shirt again.
15. Black Bear Burritos – Morgantown, WV
Applachia knows how to dish out the good Mex at this fantastic place in West Virginia. They like to get culturally creative with their offerings, too: customers can choose between Jamaican jerk chicken, Teriyaki, Thai, Indian, and more flavored meats for their burritos and other dishes. You can even try their homemade kiwi salsa. We promise you’ll like it.
16. Angela’s Cafe – Boston, MA
This lil’ cafe is dedicated to serving authentic Mexican food straight from Puebla. Yup, you got it: this is exactly how you’re going to escape the New England cold all winter. If it’s a particularly cold day (as it often is), why not pair your tacos with this warming apple cider?
17. Best Burritos – El Cerrito, CA
This no-frills burrito place dishes out what it knows, and it knows burritos. Forget about pretentious, we like open air strip mall counters where we can dine and eat burritos without judgment. But there’s more to the Golden State that meets the eye. Check out some of these amazing foods synonymous with CA.
18. Chihuahua Family Mexican – Ferndale, WA
Jumbo portions? We’ll take two, please. When they have “family” in the name, does that mean family-sized? It most certainly does. Still missing the PNW? Read this.
19. Besito Mexican Restaurant – Huntington, NY
Popular amongst the Long Island celebrity set (I mean, have you seen Long Island Medium?), you may see some of your favorite celebs hanging out at this long-time favorite restaurant. This upmarket bistro serves inventive Mexican classics and some really, really good drinks. Know what else is good in Long Island? We do.
20. Los Tacos No. 1 – New York, NY
Los Tacos No. 1 began when three friends from Tijuana, Mexico decided to bring the tradition of the taco to NYC. And boy, are we thankful. The delicious tacos come from secret family recipes, so you know it’s good stuff. Just like your mama’s (if your mama was a Mexican cooking genius, of course). You can even pair it with some wine.
21. El Dorado Cantina – Las Vegas, NV
In a land where much is illusory, the food at El Dorado Cantina is 100 percent real. They bring farm-to-table to Vegas, Mexican style, and we absolutely love that. All of the food is organic and non-GMO, and meals will even be labeled with where the ingredients are all sourced from (and we’re so excited about that!). Here’s why we’re learning all about GMOs.
22. Red Iguana – Salt Lake City, UT
This place is most famous for its mole (a traditional, savory cocoa-infused sauce), and we totally dig it. The most famous dish just happens to be their Puntas De Filete A La Nortena which are sirloin tips sauteed with bacon and served with almond mole. Like mole too? Try these other cool traditional Mexican items. Commence noshing, now.
23. Ono Tacos – Lahaina, HI
Locals know that Ono is the only place to go after a morning dip in the ocean and finishing off a great surfing session with fish tacos and shrimp burritos. This walk-up Mexican stand is especially known for its burritos, tortas, and combo plates. Here’s some other insane stuff you must eat in Hawaii.
24. Mas Tacos – Nashville, TN
How does chicken tortilla soup sound right now? They’re even more creative with their ah-mazing tacos, which will have you continually saying “uno mas!” Try the pulled pork or fried fish with dill yogurt, spicy carne molida with tomatoes and fresh corn, quinoa with roasted tomato salsa, or chicken with charred onions and jalapenos. Like Nashville food trucks? Try these. Get your stomach r-e-a-d-y.