Austinites are fiercely loyal to their taco establishments of choice– if only because the best tacos in Austin can be found all over the city. Which place you think is best is simply a matter of personal taste and discretion– but these veteran Austin taco establishments are true local classics that never disappoint.
Below, we spotlight the best, most quintessential places to get delicious tacos in Austin. Whether you’re a first-timer to the city, returning for SXSW, or just a local Tex-Mex lover who wants to make sure they’ve covered all the bases, consider this your essential Austin Taco Bucket List.
Ultimately, there are so many great places to eat tacos in Austin that we’d be remiss not to suggest you try out multiple places on this list. All of them are great in their own unique ways.
Accordingly, we’ve organized this easy-to-scroll guide with bolded insider tips so that you know what to order where. Bookmark this list for easy reference later!
Without further ado, here’s where to get the best tacos in Austin, Texas– and what each place does best.
Güero’s Taco Bar (Celebrity- and President-Approved)
Güero’s is an Austin taco institution– a popular sit-down restaurant in buzzy South Congress with excellent, filling taco plates to delight every palette.
In part because of the excellent ambiance + location, and largely because of the lush, satisfying taco plates, Güero’s Taco Bar tends to attract lots of tourists and celebrities passing through the area. But that doesn’t mean locals don’t love the food (and their amazing hand-shaken margaritas), as well!
As far as can’t-miss items go, we love “El Presidente”. This combo plate consists of 1 chicken al carbon taco, 1 beef taco, 1 tamale, and guacamole served with rice and frijoles charros– which is what President Bill Clinton ate the first time he dined here. (^ That’s a picture of it, above.)
Other Güero’s classics include the Picadillo Taco (ground beef, carrots, and potatoes in a spicy sauce), the Carne Guisada Taco (tender beef tips in a rich cumino gravy), and the Chicken Al Carbon Taco (dulce chicken marinated in achiote + orange juice). I recommend ordering all three!
Guac-lovers also swoon over the Guacamole tacos, which are different from the standard local avocado and fried avocado tacos, which you see a lot in Austin. This cool, fresh, and creamy taco twist features ripe avocados blended with fresh jalapeños, onions, and tomatoes– for people who really can’t get enough of everyone’s favorite topping.
Ultimately, Güero’s is my go-to for sit-down ambiance if I want tacos in SoCo. I’m not alone in that, which is why this vibrant hotspot gets super busy during SXSW. In March, it’s best to go early or make a reservation. Any other time of year, it’s still hopping, but the wait shouldn’t be as punishing.
Heat-seekers will enjoy the dedicated “spicy taco” section of Güero’s menu. These tacos feature unique flavor pairings with hot n’ spicy homemade salsas. For example, La Güera: a chicken al carbon taco with sweet-and-tangy pickled red cabbage, topped with queso fresco and “mi abuela’s green salsa.”
It’s fabulous, as is the Pico Puerco taco– grilled pork garnished with caramelized onion and cilantro, topped with housemade smokey chile arbol salsa. Yum! If you like spice, go for it.
The options here are expansive enough that Güero’s also has separate gluten-free and vegan menus, as well. If you have dietary restrictions, be sure to ask for them. And don’t be shy about making modifications!
Torchy’s Tacos (Best Tacos for Foodies)
The so-called “Trailer Park” is their No. 1 best-selling taco of all time, a nod to the food truck park where Torchy’s got its start in 2006. (It’s a fried chicken taco that you can make “trashy” by replacing the lettuce with queso. This is Texas, people!) It started as a seasonal special but has stayed around ever since due to popular demand.
The puns here, moreover, are quite daring. They once had a seasonal breakfast taco called “The Dirty Sanchez”! (It was scrambled eggs with a fried poblano chile, guacamole, escabeche carrots, shredded cheese, and poblano sauce on a flour tortilla.)
Other signature tacos, like The Democrat (barbacoa, avocado, cotija cheese, cilantro, onions, and a lime wedge with tomatillo sauce on a corn tortilla) and The Republican (grilled jalapeno sausage, pico de gallo, cheddar jack cheese, and poblano sauce on a flour tortilla) are equally tongue-in-cheek. Fortunately, these are flavors most Texans can agree on.
Torchy’s also makes very sexy queso topped with rich taco meat, zesty hot sauce, and generous fresh herbs.
^ In my opinion it’s the best, highest quality queso in Austin– so good! If there were such thing as artisanal queso, this would be it.
We also like that Torchy’s uses cage-free eggs in their breakfast tacos and they offer a separate gluten-conscious menu for those who are sensitive. Everything is made from scratch and responsibly sourced– but the flavors really kick.
Today, Torchy’s has a whopping 14 locations around Austin, including the original spot in a charming trailer park, as well as locations in popular neighborhoods like South Austin, Congress, Guadalupe, and Burnet. The sheer volume of restaurants speaks to the wild popularity of this Austin taco staple. Don’t miss out!
Ultimately, Torchy’s is an essential stop on any first-time Austin visitor’s itinerary. Even if you don’t love tacos ( …but how could you not?!) you simply have to go at least once.
For the quintessential experience, I recommend ordering the Trailer Park, the Fried Avocado, and the Democrat taco. (Again, The Democrat consists of barbacoa, avocado, cotija cheese, cilantro, onions, and lime with tomatillo sauce on a corn tortilla. Otherwise, order The Republican, which features grilled jalapeno sausage, pico de gallo, cheddar jack cheese, and poblano sauce on a flour tortilla. Choose whatever suits your literal and political taste! 🙂 )
^ These three tacos, moreover, encapsulate what makes Torchy’s Tacos so endearing and special.
Just be sure to make at least one of your tacos “trashy”. The queso topping is quite the unique Austin experience.
Veracruz All Natural (Best Breakfast Tacos)
When they’re seasonally available, Veracruz All Natural is a great place to try opuntia cactus tacos— a true Texas original. Opuntia cactus, also known as prickly pear, grows all over Austin. (You’d probably recognize it after spending any time in the American SouthWest.)
Once the soft, fleshy paddles of the cactus are cleaned and de-prickled, the inside can be grilled to make a chewy taco filling that’s sort of like a cross between grilled peppers and eggplant. Some people also think it has grassy notes like asparagus. Either way: it’s a great vehicle for Veracruz’s signature salsa molcajete (mild salsa made from roasted tomatoes and jalapeños).
Veracruz is a family-owned and operated Mexican taco establishment. Thus, all taco orderers can choose between in-house homemade corn tortillas or locally-made flour tortillas. Everything tastes fresh and homemade. You can even get a double tortilla or no tortilla, if you like.
We love the simple bean-and-cheese breakfast tacos as well as El Tradicional (egg, bacon, refried pinto beans, potato, cheese). The Migas Poblanas and El Sancho (chorizo, egg, and cheese) are also great.
If you’re going later in the day, try their El Pastor— pork marinated with pineapple and spices with cilantro, onion, and grilled pineapple. As far as pork tacos go, these rank among the best in Austin.
Overall, with five locations around Austin, Veracruz is a popular place to get authentic Mexican tacos and truly wonderful smoothies, juices, and aguas frescas. (And rightly so. It is a Latina- and women-owned business, after all!)
In addition to the breakfast tacos, I love the mango agua fresca and the watermelon agua fresca, especially on a hot day. They also have a notable horchata aqua fresca, for those who want to try this traditional Mexican drink.
Mr. Natural (Austin’s Best Vegan + Vegetarian Tacos)
As the best place in Austin to get vegetarian and vegan tacos, Mr. Natural packs flavor with a (meatless) punch. Try the vegan fish tacos for a real treat with a great crunch– and be sure to ask for their signature salsa ranchera. (It’s a classic!)
Everything on the menu is made in-house– “from our grandmother’s refried beans to the bread on our sandwiches”. Thus, it’s a great stop for health-conscious eaters who don’t want to skimp on variety. We love their beautiful vegetarian taco salads!
Whether you’re a vegetarian who wants to try Migas tacos (classic breakfast tacos made with eggs, pico de gallo, and cheese) or a vegan looking for the same dish, Mr. Natural can deliver. Plus, they offer a full suite of gluten-free taco options, as well.
When in doubt, build-your-own vegetarian or vegan tacos from their bespoke menu. It features intriguing add-ons like rajas poblanas, homemade “soy-rizo”, pickled jalapeños, sautéed spinach, eggs, and a popular tofu scramble.
On balance, Mr. Natural’s tacos are a great size and good value. With two locations in East Austin and South Austin, it’s a must-stop on any veggie-lovers taco To-Do list.
For what it’s worth, Mr. Natural also has a great vegan/gluten-free bakery with authentic concha bread and tres leches desserts, among other specialties.
Magnolia Cafe (Best Tex-Mex Tacos)
Magnolia Cafe on South Congress has been around for 40+ years for a reason! Hearty brunch tacos and Southwest-style diner classics are staples on the menu here.
Take, for example, their Love Migas– eggs or tofu scrambled in spicy LOVE butter (aka butter infused with fresh garlic and serrano) with tomato, onion, bell pepper, tortilla chips, and jack cheese. These are served with black beans and a choice of flour or corn tortillas. What’s not to love?
Or, consider ordering their “choose three” breakfast tacos, which will fill you for days. Choose from generous portions of bacon, sausage, ham, eggs, black beans, mixed cheddar and jack cheese, home fries, jalapeños, red onion, tomatoes, and/or spinach on flour or corn tortillas. (That’s a picture of them, above.)
And for the classic Tex-Mex taco experience, try the Shredded Beef Tacos or the Tropical Turkey Tacos. (<— These are made with smokey turkey, jack cheese, avocado, pico de gallo, and pineapple on corn or flour tortillas with your choice of sides.)
Ultimately, Magnolia Cafe is also a good place to try migas, as well as other classic Tex-Mex staples.
For what its worth, a basket of local, Austin-made corn tortilla chips and Magnolia’s fresh-made salsa always hits the spot.
Meanwhile, the “Mag Mud”— aka black beans, queso, avocado, and pico de gallo served with chips and salsa– is a clever, decadent twist on classic layer dip. So good!
Also, while not technically tacos, the Huevos Rancheros here are worth writing home about. (This grilled corn tortilla topped with two eggs, arbol sauce, and mixed cheddar/jack cheese comes with rice, beans, and more tortillas on the side.) Tortilla-lovers, unite!
Kerbey Lane Cafe (Best Value Tacos)
Kerbey Lane Cafe is known above all else for its award-winning pancakes and decadent queso, which are wildly popular among students at UT Austin. Nevertheless, their breakfast tacos and seasonal taco specials make this beloved “Best of Austin” cafe a great casual option.
Go here for delicious, bountiful tacos at a modest price. If you’re on a budget or looking for great value, this is the ideal Austin taco spot for you.
Most people go here for the build-your-own breakfast tacos– flour, corn, or whole wheat tortillas filled with three ingredients. Choose from eggs, bacon or sausage, veggie or pork chorizo, cheddar jack cheese, tofu scramble, or seasoned home fries. Then, be sure to generously layer on the homemade salsa!
FWIW, the cafe also has great Tex-Mex breakfast staples like Steak Enchilada Benedict.
FYI: The Menu Changes Often
Meanwhile, Kerbey’s lunch/dinner tacos are seasonal, so the menu changes often. One week it could be gluten-free salmon tacos with cilantro-lime vinaigrette & pineapple-mango pico, or fried avocado tacos.
Another week, it might be Texas Street Tacos. (Akaushi steak, caramelized onions, queso fresco, diced tomato, and cilantro.) Ultimately, this cafe has been slinging home-y, Texas-style comfort food since 1980, and it’s all good, y’all.
Today, Kerbey Lane Cafe has 8 locations around Austin. This includes the original 1930s bungalow on Kerbey Lane in Central Austin, which is now a local landmark.
Seven of the cafe’s other locations, for what it’s worth, also have pet-friendly patios. So, you can eat your tacos while admiring local doggos all in one spot!
Related: Austin’s 5 Best BBQ Joints.
Also: The 8 Best Birthday Cake Bakeries in Austin. (<– These people are super talented!)
Have tacos, will travel? Read our guide to the 5 Best Taco Spots in New York City.
For more bespoke foodie travel guides, visit our Travel Well section.