Sydney’s Mexican scene still has a way to go. The right ingredients can be hard to get, and the Mexican expat population is slim compared to say, the Thai and Italian populations. Then there's Tex-Mex, which has its place, but tends to be conflated with genuine south-of-the-border cuisine.

These restaurants are leading the pack. A few do fusion in a respectful way, but for the most part they work with traditional recipes and ingredients such as ancho, guajillo and poblano chillies; 100 per cent agave tequilas and mezcals; and perhaps most importantly of all, nixtamalised white-corn tortillas.

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Best Tacos in Sydney
Best Tequila and Mezcal Bars in Sydney

Carbon Mexican Wood Fire

This spot offers a hint of the flavours you might find on Mexico's Caribbean coast. It's all about boutique tequila and DIY tacos: you select all of the fillings you want and assemble the taco yourself. It's so simple – but so fun and practical. We wish it was more commonplace around town.

288 Bondi Road, Bondi

Chula

At this Mexican restaurant (from the former owners of Barrio Chino), there's a particular emphasis on seafood. Pink scallop tostadas, raw prawns sliced like sashimi and de-boned snapper have all starred in the past.

Shop 7 33 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross

Rosa Cienfuegos Tamaleria

An authentic Mexican deli serving cult tamales. Try the handmade parcels in-store or take home the ingredients to make them yourself. There are few places in town making these dishes, and this one's the best.

463 Marrickville Road, Dulwich Hill

Sonora

You won't find any sugar skulls or sombreros here. This eatery and mezcal bar is inspired by the coastal state of the same name and the executive chef's heritage, flour tortillas are preferred – and they're used to make Wagyu burritos.

37 Bayswater Road, Potts Point

Ricos Tacos

A food truck by taco devotee Toby Wilson stationed in Gelato Messina's Rosebery car park. There's a pared-back menu of the kinds of handheld tacos you'd find on the side of the road in Mexico.

58 Mentmore Avenue, Rosebery

Bad Hombres

This Mexican diner's menu is entirely plant-based, and it's all the better for it. If you're a veg-lover and a fan of Mexican flavours, this is the spot for you. When your tortilla's loaded with charred cauliflower, guacamole and pickles, you won't even noticed meat's gone.

40 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills

Calaveras

Traditional Mexican food and not-so-traditional Margaritas. (Ingredients in the one-litre Margarita jugs, for example, include Blue Curaçao, apple sour and melon).

Level 1 324A King Street, Newtown
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Flying Fajita Sistas

A bright and cheerful Mexican eatery serving creative takes on the classics.

65 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

Mejico

A crisp share menu and hundreds of tequila options. And the guacamole gets made right at your table.

105 Pitt Street, Sydney

Barrio Cellar

Late-night Mexican and beats from Barrio Chino. Come here for tacos, tequila and lots of dancing.

58 Elizabeth Street, Sydney

Don Pedros

Down this historic backstreet venue, you'll find a SoCal take on Mexican cuisine. Enter for soft shell crab tacos, and slow-cooked pork ribs. And a pre- and post-dinner shot of tequila is heavily encouraged by the team.

1 Victoria Street, Paddington
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Chica Bonita

This rustic little bolthole, hidden in a Manly back alley, is one of the seaside suburb's most popular and enduring eateries. We can see why. The laid-back atmosphere belies just how seriously this team take their food.

Shop 9 A/B 9 The Corso, Manly

El Loco

This Merivale bar is home to the tacos secretos – a sort of lucky dip for tacos, where the filling is a surprise until it reaches to your table. Secretos or not, each taco is around $7. We recommend the DIY platters, which are better value for money (and more fun). Try fillings such as baked eggplant and soy-chilli bean sauce or sirloin steak and chimichurri.

64 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills

El Topo Cantina

Looking at it, this might not seem like a good-times Mexican bar and diner, with over forty different tequilas – proficiently deployed across an array of great cocktails – but don't judge this book by its cover. It's utterly unique, and delicious.

6 Homepride Avenue, Warwick Farm

SoCal Neutral Bay

Souther California-style Mexican is its own unique beast, separate to authentic Mexican, Tex-Mex, and even San Francisco-style. It's all about light flavours, a bit of borrowing from Asian cultures and a little bit of American fast-food knowhow. SoCal nails it.

1 Young Street, Neutral Bay

Cantina Bar

At this colourful Mexican cantina, kitsch and fun reign supreme. Cantina won't be winning any awards for authenticity, but the food tastes great and the vibe is always good.

350 Darling Street, Balmain

Esteban

A moody Mexican laneway diner in an old CBD printing shop. The upstairs restaurant serves tacos al pastor, a one-kilogram Wagyu rib eye and a sweet potato dessert. Downstairs there's a bar with more than 200 mezcals and tequilas.

1 Temperance Lane, Sydney
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