Take it from this California native – the Miami Valley could do much, much worse for Mexican food.
When I first moved here two years ago, I was ready to resign myself to quelling my taco addiction with Chipotle (no offense to Chipotle; I love their food. But those are not authentic tacos). Luckily, I don’t have to, because from north to south, east to west, the Dayton area is home to some delicious and satisfying Tex-Mex with dishes that rival some of my favorite San Francisco haunts.
In no particular order, these restaurants will serve your burrito, taco, pozole, gordita, fajita, margarita, etc. etc. need:
The monster burrito from Taqueria Mixteca. ALLEGRA CZERWINSKI / STAFF
Home of the two-pound “monster burrito,” Taqueria Mixteca also has some of the best pozole in town – it’s a shame you can only get it on the weekend. You can’t go wrong with their queso appetizer, and anything with chorizo on it will always be tasty. Grab some horchata at the East Third Street location (or grab a six-pack at the gas station next door – it’s BYOB), or indulge in a margarita at their Trotwood location.
Taco Loco's namesakes, Mexican-style tacos. Photo source: Facebook
5392 Burkhardt Rd. | (937) 254-6645 | Facebook
The name says it all. Tacos. Galore. Go for the Mollejas (gizzards), Tripas (tripe) or Lengua (tongue) and thank me later. And though the complimentary chips are your typical Tex Mex fare, the green and red salsas that accompany the chips are a dream. Not to mention, you get the biggest bang for your buck here: we highly recommend splitting the quesadilla in two.
Burrito King's special. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
2307 Valley Pike | (937) 235-9970
Don’t be fooled by the exterior or the lack of social media presence: This spot is beloved by locals who know the quality of the food can’t be beat. Especially loved are the breakfast options, from the breakfast burrito (with a side of delicious gravy) or the perfectly cooked huevos rancheros, but whether you come for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you will leave perfectly satisfied.
The enchiladas from Elsa's. Photo source: Angela W./ Yelp
Multiple locations | elsas.net
We’ve said enough about Elsa’s “Bad Juan” Margaritas: Now let’s talk about Elsa’s Super Burrito: refried beans, your choice of meat, with a mild sauce, lettuce, Pico de Gallo and shredded cheese, in a 10-inch flour tortilla: it’s not for the faint of heart. Their fish tacos are refreshing and tasty and go down oh so well with a Bad Juan.
The steak burrito, margarita, and sauces at Chuy's Mexican. VIVIENNE MACHI / STAFF
Take our word for it – take it twice – Chuy’s fresh margaritas are paired so well with a spicy, delicious steak burrito, or the complimentary happy hour nacho bar. Chuy’s may be a chain, but the Austin-based chain knows Tex-Mex for the masses. And with a fresh, never frozen-except-for-French-fries-and-ice-cream philosophy, you can be sure that the guacamole you’re killing is never from a tub.
The pozole from Chiapas. MARK FISHER / STAFF
Chiapas Mexican Grill
298 N. Main St., Centerville | (937) 949-3390
Dayton’s most recent Mexican addition has not disappointed so far – besides the four dishes we loved upon our first visit, (especially the pozole) we also recommend the verde enchiladas for those who love lots of cheese with a great kick. But really, we could eat a straight bowl of their refried beans and be completely happy.
Acapulco's tasty fare. SHERRI SINE / CONTRIBUTED
88 Xenia Towne Square, Xenia | (937) 374-0582 | acapulcomexres.com | Facebook
Don’t be fooled by the strip mall environment – Acapulco transports you away from 35 and into a gustatory Tex-Mex paradise. If you’re like me and you love cheese, and you love chorizo, then you must order the Chori-queso for the gooey, spicy, pepper-y dip of your dreams, perfect on a flour tortilla or honestly just licked up with a spoon. For huge portions, great combo platters for the indecisive diners, and unique plates (try the Burrito California with steak, chorizo, pineapple, and shrimp), Acapulco is worth the short drive east.
The Pollo Poblano from Las Piramides. CONNIE POST / STAFF
6290 Chambersburg Rd., Huber Heights | (937) 235-8634 | laspiramidesdayton.com
When you’re in the mood for a frozen margaritas or some prime enchiladas, Las Piramides is your spot. Their fresh dishes are enhanced by the cheery and cantina-style ambiance and quality service at any time of the day or night. When you visit the Rose Music Center this summer, consider stopping by Las Piramides for a bite beforehand.
Delicious dishes from La Michoacana #5. AMELIA ROBINSON / STAFF
La Michoacana #5 Mexican Market
748 Troy St. | (937) 220-9600 | michoacanamarket.com
Where else can you grab some delicious chorizo tortas, then buy the very same chorizo at the meat counter next door? La Michoacana is a true gem in the Gem City, a spot you’re surprised to find in the Midwest but are so happy you did. Any of their fajita skillets are worth an order, but the shrimp fajitas in particular are a real treat.
El Toro's steak fajitas. Photo source: Jennifer K. / Yelp
Voted by our readers as the best Mexican in town in our Best of Dayton contest, El Toro offers plenty of delicious options, from the seafood chimichangas, to “La Favorita” – tender grilled steak, shrimp, with caramelized onions and tortillas, rice and beans. And how can you resist a classic Flan for dessert? As with every Mexican place on this list, come with a heavy appetite or ready to split: portions are huge.