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Everyone says it. Once you go to Mexico, you’ll never eat Mexican food like it again outside of the country. While this is true, there are some places that are doing an excellent job of recreating the perfectly spicy, flavorsome taste of Mexican cuisine. We’ve rounded up the best Mexican food outside of Mexico, from Oaxaca’s famous mole through to juicy taco al pastor:
1. Hija de Sanchez, Copenhagen, Denmark
While tacos in Copenhagen don’t sound like the authentic real-deal, never judge a book by its cover. Ex-Noma pastry-chef Rosio Sanchez not only draws on his Mexican heritage but also on his skills from Noma — one of the world’s best double Michelin starred restaurants. Hija de Sanchez is a contemporary taqueria in the heart of uber-cool Copenhagen. It serves up tacos made from corn imported from Oaxaca and uses homemade cheese. The taco options change on a daily basis, depending on local, fresh ingredients. Some of the best include, huevos rancheros tacos (with a fried egg, casera salsa, pork cracklings, onion cilantro), and tacos with mole, which is the Oaxaca region’s famous chocolate-chili sauce. Want to be a Mexican food connoisseur? Check out the seven different types of mole.
2. Avila’s Mexican Food, Texas
For a true taste of the border city El Paso, head to Avila’s Mexican Food in Texas. The restaurant has been going for almost 70 years, passing through the hands of one family. It’s as traditional as it gets this side of the border, with some of the top dishes to try being a hamburger steak covered in Hatch chiles and melted white cheese, or molten cheese-stuffed chile rellenos. They also serve up the usual contenders such as burritos and tacos.
3. Broken Spanish, Los Angeles
Broken Spanish in Los Angeles is a sophisticated Mexican restaurant serving up food packed with a Mexican punch. Some of its top dishes include colorful mixes of brown rice, green chorizo and fava leaves; a dish made from king oyster mushrooms, lambs neck, and Oaxacan cheese; and crispy, crunchy chicharrón.
4. Mamasita, Melbourne, Australia
Mamasita in Melbourne is one of Australia’s best Mexican joints. This lively restaurant can be found above an unsuspecting 7/11 shop. Mamasita claims to be the first “real” Mexican restaurant in the country — so if you like Tex Mex this isn’t the place for you. Its top-selling dish is the chargrilled corn, topped with queso cheese, lime, and chipotle mayo — and the flavors are spot on. Other great dishes to try include the pork tacos and guacamole-topped nachos.
5. Veracruz All Natural, Austin
One of Texas’ finest Mexican joints is Vera Cruz in Austin. It’s a family-run business (as the best Mexican restaurants always are) serving authentic food from the family’s hometown of Vera Cruz, Mexico. Food is made using fresh, natural ingredients and served from a traditional street-food truck. Top dishes include juicy tacos al pastor, vegan tacos and simple eggs, avocado, pico and cheese taco combo.
6. Mezcaleria Oaxaca, Seattle
If you’re looking for delicious Oaxacan mole, look no further than Mezcaleria Oaxaca in Seattle. The Perez family have been making delicious mole for years, and they include it in most of their dishes, from tamales through to tacos. Knock it back with a shot of fine Mexican mezcal liquor.
7. La Taqueria, San Francisco
La Taqueria in San Francisco is a no-frills taqueria that serves delicious tacos and traditional burritos. Try the carne asada burrito, beef tongue tacos, and quesadillas. It’s always packed so be prepared to queue. The burritos here are famous for their authentic flavors, and they are rice-free, as Mexican burritos should be.
8. Coni’Seafood, Inglewood, California
Coni’Seafood in Inglewood, California, offers up a taste of western Mexico. It’s known for its incredible seafood, from spicy ceviche to shrimp dishes. Try the shrimp aguachile if you love spice or the fried whole fish which is simple and delicious. Meanwhile, the ceviche is marinated in a perfect blend of spice and lime and is the restaurant’s star dish.
9. Hoja Santa and Niño Viejo, Barcelona, Spain
Hoja Santa is a Mexican haute-cuisine restaurant — and some say it’s the best Mexican food in Europe. Chefs Albert Adrià and Mexican chef Paco Méndez have mixed traditional Mexican cuisine with an haute-cuisine edge, and you can find excellent dishes on the menu such as truffle quesadilla and pasilla mole. Next door to the sit-down restaurant you’ll find an easy-going taco bar, Niño Viejo, where you can find tacos such as pork ‘carnitas’, ribs and crunchy pork scratchings. At the “taqueria”, guests can enter without a reservation, but a reservation is strongly recommended at Hoja Santa.
Love the idea of trying real Mexican food in Mexico? Check out our guide to the best places to go backpacking in Mexico or kick back on one of Mexico’s best beaches.