No matter your definition of Mexican food—be it fajitas and margaritas or mole and rompope—there’s no better place than Houston to find it. No surprise there, as our city, birthplace of those famous fajitas and other Tex-Mex classics, is home to the country’s third-largest Mexican population. Thanks to a heritage equally drenched in chile con carne and chile con queso—and a booming economy that’s drawing Mexican nationals of every socioeconomic stripe—Houston’s Mexican food landscape has never been more vibrant.

Molina’s, now in its 73rd year, still sells the combo platters that made it famous, overflowing with cheese enchiladas, tacos, and tamales. El Patio—currently celebrating its 50th anniversary—continues to serve the blue-hued frozen margaritas that left generations of Houstonians inebriated at the eatery’s adjacent Club No Minors.

Meanwhile, new generations of Tex-Mex royalty are setting a high bar for the years to come. Take Tex-Mex impresario Russell Ybarra, who created Gringo’s out of his father’s own failed Pearland restaurant, or El Tiempo owner Domenic Laurenzo, who’s building on grandmother Mama Ninfa Laurenzo’s legacy, his restaurants thriving like jalapeño bushes in July.

In addition, thanks to an infusion of innovation, Houstonians are coming to enjoy the same kind of cooking as diners in interior Mexico’s best restaurants. La Fisheria is serving cutting-edge Gulf seafood dishes inspired by the upscale cooking of Tampico. Cuchara is transporting patrons to a busy bistro in Mexico City’s La Zona Rosa for comida corrida, the economical midday repast featuring courses of nopales salad, simple quesadillas, and comforting arroz con leche. And at Caracol, seafood fans are frolicking in a sea of brightly-hued ceviches and Mexican crudos that often look more like Nobu-style sashimi platings than bowls of campechana.

Conclusion? There’s no better place in the country for Mexican food right now—be it comfortingly Tex, strictly Mex or, as is usually the case, something in between. Hence the need for Houstonia’s up-to-the-minute guide to our city’s Mexican favorites, from the best in breakfast tacos, to barbacoa, chips and queso, campechanas, taqueros, taco trucks, and—but of course—fajitas and margaritas.

In This Feature:

Houston’s 15 Best Tex-Mex Restaurants

Finding the best out of hundreds of Tex-Mex establishments was no easy task (especially on our arteries), but we did it.

06/30/2014 By Katharine Shilcutt

Houston's Top 10 Regional Mexican Restaurants

Take an impressive culinary tour of Mexico without ever leaving the city limits.

06/30/2014 By Robb Walsh

Where to Find Houston’s Best Mexican Seafood

Houston has long boasted America’s widest variety of Mexican seafood restaurants, but thanks to these five spots, Gulf Coast Mexican is entering a whole new era.

06/30/2014 By Robb Walsh

The Gringo’s Guide to Pan Dulce

Don’t know your conchas from your cuernos? We’re here to help.

06/30/2014 By Katharine Shilcutt

4 Tex-Mex Breakfast Plates That Rise & Shine

Tacos are hardly the last word in Mexican breakfasts—especially on leisurely weekend mornings when you need to refuel after a long week (or just a long night).

07/07/2014 By Katharine Shilcutt

5 Awesome Breakfast Tacos to Try Today

What the bagel is to NYC, the breakfast taco is to Houston—so you’d better get it right.

06/24/2014 By Katharine Shilcutt

The 10 Essential Taco Trucks

The fancy-food-truck fad may be fading, but good, old-fashioned taco trucks are here to stay. Here are a few worth seeking out.

06/30/2014 By Robb Walsh

Our Tex-Mex Survey Results

We asked, several hundred of you answered.

06/30/2014 Illustrations by Dan Derozier By Katharine Shilcutt

A Margarita for Every Mood

We’ve rounded up the nine best bars and restaurants to whet your whistle.

06/30/2014 By Katharine Shilcutt

The Wide World of Mexican Cocktails

¡Palomas, micheladas, sangritas, vampiros, los big shots y más!

06/30/2014 By Robb Walsh