Long gone are the days where you had to hunt through town to find a decent taco. Miami’s tasting more and more like a miniature Mexico as chefs straight from the motherland open up taquerias centered around sourcing authentic ingredients and utilizing the freshest of flavors for traditional and modern takes on Mexican cuisine. Here are just seven of our faves (in no particular order) that are sure to do the trick when you’re looking to get a quick Mexican fix that’s as authentic as you’d find in Mexico without actually crossing over the border.
1. Coyo Taco
It’s been just a little under two years since Mexico City native Alan Drummond, hailing from the Coyoacán neighborhood (thus the taqueria’s title), joined forces with Sven Vogtland and chef Scott Linquist to launch Coyo Taco’s flagship location in Wynwood. The theme here centers around a Todo Fresco, or “Everything Fresh,” mentality, from the locally sourced meat to the naturally raised seafood and made-from-scratch margaritas. Handcrafted tortillas here stick with Mexican tradition but take on contemporary touches with fillings like grilled octopus and the vegetarian-inspired quinoa tacos.
2300 NW 2nd Ave., Wynwood; 305-573-8228
111 SW 1st Ave., Brickell; 786-773-3337
Inspired by his travels throughout the Yucatan and Monterrey, chef Bernie Matz has modernized the meaning of a Mexican taco stand with his tacos and tortas that take on unconventional twists, such as the guajillo chili-braised pork belly and spit-broiled chicken with garlicked kale and pickled red onion. Half the fun here is ordering up these street food-style tacos and homemade hot sauces from the airstream trailer in the front, while those looking for a tequila-fueled late night out will find the party lurking in the back in speakeasy form behind the industrial meat locker door.
1220 16th St., Miami Beach; 305-704-2145
3. La Cruzada
La Cruzada makes heading down to Homestead worthwhile just for its tacos alone, served up in traditional Mexican style with mariachis serenading tables on the weekend. If you’re in a rush, snag an order to go from the window, but if you have time to sit and linger, it’s worth sticking around and enjoying the Latin ambiance either indoors with the woven tablecloths and baskets lining the walls or al fresco on the patio, dining on tacos, tortas and tostadas all made with 100 percent authentic ingredients from Mexico.
331 Park Place, Homestead; 305-242-6240
At Chéen-huaye, which means “Only Here” in Mayan, you’ll find dishes and flavors as authentic as you’d get in the Yucatan Peninsula region of Mexico, where Chef Marco Velasquez hails from. The menu makes its way through classic soups like tortilla and lime topped with cilantro and shredded chicken, and moves on to soft corn-stuffed tortilla tacos served with any filling of your liking, from grilled mahi-mahi to marinated skirt steak and spiced pork.
15400 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami Beach; 305-956-2808
5. Wapo Taco!
There’s a reason why the tacos here taste just as good as you’d find on the streets of Mexico City. Cousins Francisco and Luis Musi kept with tradition when it came to crafting tacos just as their family did when they launched the first Taqueria El Farolito back in 1962 in the Mexican capital. Mexico City is now home to 25 spots famous for creating Tacos al Carbón, or char-grilled tacos, using the same recipes and Mexican comal griddle used to cook these classic staples at the South Florida-based Wapo Taco! The result is a menu of grilled goodies like cactus and chorizo stuffed into daily homemade corn tortillas, topped by traditional salsas that would make the family proud.
2526 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables; 786-452-9634
1955 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale Beach; 954-456-6969
After cutting his teeth at Eating House and The Broken Shaker, Miami-born Chef Steve Santana decided to go the Mexican route launching the traditional Taquiza on the ground floor of the HI-Miami Beach Hostel. The spot is heavy on street food-style fare and has made a name for itself as the home of the top tortillas in town, handcrafted from daily freshly ground blue masa corn sourced from Michoacán, Mexico, which forms the perfect casing for tacos like the carnitas with pork, orange and cinnamon, or the beef tongue-stuffed Lengua.
1506 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-748-6099
It’s not often you get the choice between lean and loaded tacos, but the two-year-old Huahua’s Taqueria, launched by HaVen executive chef Todd Erickson, aims to deliver choice as well as authenticity in its Lincoln Road space that’s just as casual of a spot as you’d find near the beach in Cancun. Tacos range from specialty fried chicken with jalapeño cornbread and cheesy eggs with hash browns to the skinny grilled mahi and charred Portobello with spicy tofu crema.
1211 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; 305-534-8226