The Best Mexican Food in the Midwest

You never know where you’re going to find the best Mexican food. Sometimes, it’s in an upscale restaurant that’s heavy on the ambiance. Other times, it’s from an unpretentious food truck parked on an out-of-the-way street.

But one thing is certain. Once you find your favorite Mexican food, you’ll be going back again and again. There’s just something about a good Mexican restaurant that inspires loyalty — and food cravings! Here is a list of some of the best Mexican food in the Midwest.

La Estrella Mexicana — Lawrence, KS

This Lawrence eatery has a unique setup, with a restaurant upstairs and a small grocery featuring Mexican staples downstairs. But it’s not the unique setup that keeps hungry customers coming back. No, that would be the tacos. La Estrella’s street-style tacos can be ordered with soft or fried corn tortillas, and their special Tacos Tlaxcala feature heaping servings of bistec (marinated beef) and chorizo (pork sausage). The fried potato tacos are also a popular choice.

La Estrella is a family-owned restaurant, and its owners hail from Queretaro, Mexico. They recently expanded into a new larger space, much to the delight of community members and KU students alike. You won’t find margaritas or complimentary chips here, but it’s the perfect place for unpretentious, authentic Mexican food.

Mula Mexican Kitchen & Tequileria — Omaha, NE

Mula Mexican Kitchen & Tequileria, on the other hand, is a bit more of a party. As the name implies, Mula prominently features margaritas and a wide selection of tequilas. Their full bar area provides a place where you can grab a drink before dinner if you’re so inclined.

That certainly doesn’t mean that the food at Mula is an afterthought. The menu features a tasty queso appetizer and a variety of tacos, tortas, and other traditional dishes. You can also order a flight of their incredible guacamoles, including a uniquely tasty Bacon & Street Corn Guac. The restaurant’s signature Mulitas are double-decker quesadillas filled with your choice of chicken, carnitas, and more. Bring your appetite to Mula’s — you will definitely not leave hungry!

Tasty Tacos — Des Moines, IA

With six locations across the city, Tasty Tacos is a Des Moines institution. This restaurant was founded over 50 years ago and still serves up the same delicious, homemade dishes. Tasty Tacos has been voted “Best Local Tacos” for four years running by local CITYVIEW readers, and for good reason. “Nada Es Imposible” is the driving force behind the operation.

Everything at Tasty Tacos comes a la carte, so it’s a great place to mix and match your choice of enchiladas, flour tacos, corn tacos, and more. All of the tacos come with generous portions and multiple salsa options. It’s the perfect place for lunch or a quick bite. But don’t confuse Tasty Taco with fast food. As their website prominently states, “We are a fast-serve restaurant, not fast food.”

Tarahumaras Mexican Restaurant — Kansas City, KS

This unassuming walk-in restaurant has some of the best house salsa around. Made from scratch by Tarahumara’s owner and head chef, it has an extremely fresh taste with just enough bite. Of course, you probably don’t go to a restaurant just for the salsa. Tarahumara has a full menu of tasty tacos, burritos, and tamales.

Tarahumaras now has two locations in KCK. Both offer small seating areas but big flavors. The tamales are particularly recommended, as are the potato tacos and the birria tacos (goat and lamb meat). No matter what you order, you’ll be getting an authentic taste of Chihuahua, Mexico. And some of the best Mexican food in the Midwest.

Taqueria Guadalajara — Madison, WI

Taqueria Guadalajara is the kind of casual spot that can be affectionately described as a “hole-in-the-wall.” But this unassuming, family-owned restaurant regularly serves up some of the best Mexican food in Madison.

The interior of this eatery is sparse, though colorful. But it’s the food that will keep you coming back for more. The guacamole is a particular standout, with a creamy texture and rich flavors. And the house specialties never disappoint, particularly the Platillo Guadalajara and the Enchiladas de Mole. Consistently delicious food in a friendly, comfortable atmosphere — what more could you ask for?

La Regia Taqueria — Iowa City, IA

La Regia started out as a food truck before expanding into a sit-down dining location. Fortunately, that didn’t change the incredible flavor of their made-to-order tacos. La Regia is the unquestioned go-to spot for authentic Mexican food in eastern Iowa.

The new location also includes a small market that offers Mexican and Latin American products. But the star of the show continues to be the tacos. You can try the potato tacos, the carnitas tacos, the fish tacos — no matter your choice, you’ll walk away satisfied. And you’ll likely find yourself craving another visit in the near future.

El Sazon Tacos & More — Eagan, MN

If you’re looking for the most popular spot for down-home Mexican food in Minnesota, Andale Taqueria in Richfield is a wonderful spot. Made famous by Guy Fieri, the restaurant has a fun, contemporary feel. But if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, El Sazon Tacos & More might be the place for you.

Located at a counter inside a BP gas station south of the Twin Cities, this unique spot features some truly innovative dishes. Using local ingredients, El Sazon combines traditional flavors and new approaches. The Birria Ramen and Quesabirria are dishes you won’t find anywhere else. But don’t worry — if you’re looking for a more standard taco or a burrito, those are delicious, too. You’ll leave satiated and stuffed (and with a car full of gas)!

Guadalajara — Spearfish, SD

This Black Hills restaurant is the closest you’ll get to experiencing Mexico while you’re in South Dakota. Guadalajara is a family-owned spot dedicated to showing you a good time. You’ll start your meal off with complimentary chips and salsa and, if you’re of age, one of the best margaritas around.

The colorful restaurant surroundings and friendly vibes all contribute to the experience here. And the full menu features everything you’d expect — from enchiladas to fajitas to burritos. Guadalajara is the perfect place to gather with family or friends, leave your worries behind, and enjoy a Midwest fiesta.

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  • Chris Kane

    Chris Kane is a military veteran and former business owner currently living in the Des Moines, Iowa, metro. Chris is an inveterate entrepreneur and avid web developer who is not shy about sharing his opinions.

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