Hand-written whiteboard menus and cash-only takeout windows don’t necessarily evoke images of mouthwatering food, especially when the menu features items such as lengua (cow tongue) and buche (pig stomach). Bu8t if you’re looking for authentic Mexican food, your best bet is at restaurants that serve traditional delicacies like these — lest you end up with a three-cheese blend with burger meat in a stale hard-taco shell. (Traditional Mexican taco toppings are cilantro, onion, and lime rather than shredded cheese, and soft, handmade corn tortillas are a must.)
As adventurous eaters, more concerned with the food itself than with fancy service and chic interiors, have discovered hole-in-the-wall taquerías and even food trucks — hidden gems — often serve the most flavorful fare around. (Here is the best hidden gem restaurant in every state.)
24/7 Tempo has sought out the best hidden gem Mexican restaurant in every state, using reviews and ratings from a wide range of websites, including Food & Wine, The Daily Meal, Cheapism, Eater, Yelp, Thrillist, and Taste of Home, as well as state and regional restaurant listings. (For a wider choice of places, see also our list of the best Mexican restaurant in every state.)
A handful of them are indeed food trucks offering limited menus featuring mostly classic street taco fillings like carnitas and al pastor. Menus at these trucks and restaurants alike are often in Spanish (sometimes with English translations) and glass bottles of imported Mexican Coke are a staple beverage. Many of these gems are small, family-run establishments that serve an incredibly loyal customer base and are known for having the only authentic Mexican food in town.