Sydney’s Mexican scene is positively booming. The right ingredients have never been easier to source, and a new wave of Mexican-born chefs are using Australian produce to execute generations-old family recipes. And while many of us are accustomed to Tex-Mex (which still has its place), it shouldn’t be conflated with the explosion of genuine south-of-the-border cuisine in Sydney.

These restaurants are leading the pack. A few do fusion in a respectful way, but for the most part they work with traditional 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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Rosa Cienfuegos Tamaleria

Restaurant

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

Itacate

Restaurant

Rosa Cienfuegos makes some of Sydney's best Mexican food. At this colourful and casual all-day Mexican eatery and deli, she's serving home-style dishes: huevos divorciados, tacos, garnachas and more. Plus, there are hard-to-find Mexican pantry goods to buy.

129-133 Redfern Street, Redfern

Maiz Mexican Street Food

Cafe

A Mexican street food cafe in Newtown serving not-so-traditional sopes: thick round tortillas loaded with toppings such as vegan hibiscus al pastor and spanner crab tinga. The homely little courtyard feels like a slice of Mexico on King Street.

415 King Street, Newtown

Ricos Tacos

Restaurant

A colourful taqueria by taco devotee, Toby Wilson. No matter where you find him, Wilson serves a pared-back menu of handheld tacos you'd find on the side of the road in Mexico, including the king of them all: tacos al pastor.

15 Meagher Street, Chippendale

Carbon Mexican Wood Fire

Restaurant

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
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Bad Hombres

Restaurant

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 pastor-style mushrooms, pico de gallo and pineapple; you won't even notice the meat's gone.

40 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills

Tequila Daisy

Restaurant

A bright Barangaroo taqueria doing mezcal and tequila cocktails, plus stellar tacos and share plates marrying Mexican flavours and cooking techniques with Australian produce.

11 33 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney

Santa Catarina

Restaurant

Fine dining meets Oaxacan flavours at this casual CBD spot. There's a rollicking bar with such vast quantities of tequila and mezcal, bartenders use a library ladder to access the top shelf. A pre-dinner flight here is highly encouraged – and well worth it.

156 Clarence Street, Sydney

Casa Merida

Restaurant

Visit for mezcal imported from Indigenous communities in Mexico and dishes from the Yucatan Peninsula – including cricket-laced guacamole, potato gratin with guajillo chillies, and octopus tacos.

1 5 Kellett Street, Potts Point

Chula

Restaurant

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

Chica Bonita

Restaurant

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

Esteban

Restaurant

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

Barrio Cellar

Restaurant

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

58 Elizabeth Street, Sydney

SoCal Neutral Bay

Restaurant

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

Sonora

Restaurant

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

El Loco

Restaurant

This Merivale bar is home to the tacos secreto – a sort of lucky dip for tacos, where the filling is a surprise until it reaches to your table. Secreto 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

Bar Patron

Restaurant

Vibrant Mexican food, super-rare tequilas and million-dollar views are all on the menu at this smart harbourside diner. But to really feel like a millionaire, splash out on the signature gold leaf Margarita.

2 Phillip Street, Circular Quay
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Calaveras

Restaurant

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

Flying Fajita Sistas

Restaurant

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

65 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

Sinaloa

Restaurant

Mexico’s vibrant coastline informs every part of this colourful, multi-part bar and eatery. Dishes – such as Vegemite-glazed cauliflower al pastor – harness native Australian and Asian flavours, while cocktails put a Mexican twist on the classics.

37 Bay Street, Double Bay

Checho’s

Restaurant

It’s tequila, tacos and ceviche at this pretty pink Mexican diner. The bar mixes until midnight, with more than 20 types of tequila and a stellar Margarita on the menu – a win for Penrith’s nightlife scene.

Shop 1 396 High Street, Penrith

Alma

Restaurant

There's no better suburb than Avalon to canvas Alma's coastal Mexican flavours. Seafood dominates the menu, but the tight list of tacos and strong vegetarian options shouldn't be overlooked. The country's national spirit is also in abundance.

47 Old Barrenjoey Road, Avalon

St Alma

Restaurant

Past the corn chips and guac you'll find corn truffle empanadas, agave-grilled haloumi, and handmade prawn salbutes at Alma's younger, Freshwater sibling. Come here for those, plus zesty drinks and five different types of Margarita.

20 Albert Street, Freshwater

Tacos Muchachos

Restaurant

Don’t let this sleek eatery fool you – it serves honest Mexican street-food including tacos, nachos and burritos stuffed with slow-cooked beef, chipotle or quesabirria with consomme. Pair those with a tart Margarita for the full experience.

179 Cleveland St, Redfern
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