Let's be honest -- North Carolina isn't exactly known for Mexican food. This is barbecue country, and we're proud of it. But that doesn't mean that south of the border fare isn't well represented. Travelers have been known to criticize Charlotte as having boring, bland Mexican dining options, but even the most seasoned taco aficionado would have to give Charlotte credit after taking in a meal from one of these places. For the best Mexican food in Charlotte, visit one of these restaurants.
You're not going to get a bad meal at any of these restaurants, so the focus here will be on what's unique about each spot.
116 E Woodlawn Road, Charlotte, NC 28217
This Azteca location is attached to a hotel, but don't let the exterior fool you. This certainly isn't a "hotel" restaurant. There's usually a line, especially at lunch, and with good reason. The food here is absolutely top notch, the portions generous and the prices reasonable.
Aside from the excellent food, one thing that sets Azteca apart from just about any Mexican restaurant is Charlotte is the guacamole dip. Made fresh right at your table, the guacamole is superb, and definitely worth trying. Even if you're not usually a fan of the dip, give it a try here and you just may become a believer.
Many people regard Azteca's margaritas as the best in the city, so if you're looking for a frozen drink, this is your place.
6 to 9 p.m. Friday nights, there's a Mariachi band in house, adding a great atmosphere to the already excellent food.
2. Cantina 1511
1511 East Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203
More "upscale and trendy" Mexican, Cantina 1511 fits right in with the historic Dilworth neighborhood. It's been called "New Age" Mexican because of some "non-traditional" dishes (like the option for salmon instead of the regular chicken, beef or steak ) but the food is very solid. Many of the ingredients in the food are locally grown, and there are plenty of vegetarian options (something often overlooked at a Mexican place) and even a gluten free menu.
Like Aztea, Cantina 1511 also has fresh guacamole made tableside that's a delicious start to any meal.
The atmosphere here is great for a casual family dinner or for date night. They also have one of the best weekend brunches around and the specialty margaritas and mojitos here are also very good.
3201 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205
Another restaurant that fits perfectly with its location, Cabo Fish Taco is as unique as the NoDa neighborhood it sits in.
As the name implies, their specialty is tacos, but with options ranging from mahi-mahi (barbequed or blackened) to beer battered white fish, this isn't your traditional "chicken or beef" kind of place (although they have that too). With cod, calamari, scallops, salmon and soft-shell crab just a few of the many seafood choices, it's worth stepping away from the "traditional" options to experience what Cabo can put together.
Healthy options abound, with an extensive wrap menu. Your standard quesedillas, fajitas and enchiladas are also represented well, with each having a seafood option. The "regular" food here is good, but the seafood is is where they shine.
The margarita list has a good range of prices, and the atmosphere here is great, too.
4. Miguel's Restaurants Inc.
4252 Business Center Drive, Charlotte, NC 28214
While the other restaurants on this list have a "unique" factor, Miguel's is the most "traditional" on the list. There are no truly unique menu items, it's in a sort of small and out of the way location and when you look at the outside, it's a typical "hole-in-the-wall" place. Then why does it make the list of Charlotte's best? The food is simply that good. The prices are very reasonable and you get a lot of food - enough for multiple meals. The menu is fairly standard as far as choices, but anything you get here will be excellent. The queso dip is some of the best around and the tamales are different than any style around. If you want simple, good food, this is your spot.