September 19, 2021

25 Essential Taco Spots You Must Try in Cincinnati

Whether it's Taco Tuesday or you're simply feelin' some meat or veggies snuggly wrapped in a warm tortilla, Cincinnati has plenty to offer the taco lover. From traditional taquerias to must-try taco trailers and more modern Mexican spots, there's a little something for everyone. Here's a few you shouldn't miss when planning your next taco feast.
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Mazunte
611 Main St., Downtown; 5207 Madison Road, Madisonville
Mazunte has been long-hailed as a "hidden gem," but hopefully this will finally put it on the map as a Cincinnati institution. Their Madisonville taqueria and downtown Cincinnati restaurant mix casual order-at-the-counter dining with high-quality Oaxaca-inspired cuisine. Both Mazunte eateries offer tacos, tamales, tostadas and margaritas, but the downtown Centro location also specializes in tortas and tlayudas (kind of like Mexican pizzas).
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Mazunte

611 Main St., Downtown; 5207 Madison Road, Madisonville
Mazunte has been long-hailed as a "hidden gem," but hopefully this will finally put it on the map as a Cincinnati institution. Their Madisonville taqueria and downtown Cincinnati restaurant mix casual order-at-the-counter dining with high-quality Oaxaca-inspired cuisine. Both Mazunte eateries offer tacos, tamales, tostadas and margaritas, but the downtown Centro location also specializes in tortas and tlayudas (kind of like Mexican pizzas).
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Tortilleria Garcia
5917 Hamilton Ave., College Hill; 11774 Springfield Pike, Springdale; 4200 Aero Drive, Mason
Popular Springdale Mexican eatery Tortilleria Garcia has opened two additional locations in College Hill and in Mason. Omar Garcia, the restaurant's’ owner, grew up on a family farm in Michoacan, Mexico and learned how to make corn tortillas the old fashioned way from his mother and grandmother. Garcia has committed to honoring his family’s culinary history and his restaurants uncompromisingly follow the family recipe for fresh tortillas — never using flour or preservatives. Garcia’s menu consists of straightforward Mexican classics like tamales, burritos, housemade salsas and rotisserie chicken, in addition to tacos, plus his classic tortilla shells are available in two-pound packs so you can make your own inspired creations at home.
Photo: Paige Deglow

Tortilleria Garcia

5917 Hamilton Ave., College Hill; 11774 Springfield Pike, Springdale; 4200 Aero Drive, Mason
Popular Springdale Mexican eatery Tortilleria Garcia has opened two additional locations in College Hill and in Mason. Omar Garcia, the restaurant's’ owner, grew up on a family farm in Michoacan, Mexico and learned how to make corn tortillas the old fashioned way from his mother and grandmother. Garcia has committed to honoring his family’s culinary history and his restaurants uncompromisingly follow the family recipe for fresh tortillas — never using flour or preservatives. Garcia’s menu consists of straightforward Mexican classics like tamales, burritos, housemade salsas and rotisserie chicken, in addition to tacos, plus his classic tortilla shells are available in two-pound packs so you can make your own inspired creations at home.
Photo: Paige Deglow
Taqueria Nogal
524 Sixth Ave., Dayton
Taco trailer Taqueria Nogal opened in September of 2019, originally in Newport. In summer of 2020 they relocated to Dayton, Kentucky while they work on their brick-and-mortar location in the neighborhood. The eatery offers a range of Mexican dishes like burritos, tacos, generously sized tortas and quesadillas with meat options including pollo (chicken), pastor (pork) and asada (beef). They also feature daily specials like their popular "elotes locos," a tasty Mexican street corn on a stick; camarones de cocktail (shrimp cocktail); and tamales. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Taqueria Nogal

524 Sixth Ave., Dayton
Taco trailer Taqueria Nogal opened in September of 2019, originally in Newport. In summer of 2020 they relocated to Dayton, Kentucky while they work on their brick-and-mortar location in the neighborhood. The eatery offers a range of Mexican dishes like burritos, tacos, generously sized tortas and quesadillas with meat options including pollo (chicken), pastor (pork) and asada (beef). They also feature daily specials like their popular "elotes locos," a tasty Mexican street corn on a stick; camarones de cocktail (shrimp cocktail); and tamales.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Pata Roja Taqueria
1208 Sycamore St., Pendleton
Pata Roja Taqueria has found a permanent home in Pendleton on Bar Saeso’s patio space. The restaurant specializes in food inspired by Mexico City such as al pastor and bistec street tacos and bean stew with sausage. The bar patio provides outdoor seating to enjoy in the summer months. Guests can also choose indoor seating and order beer from the bar. This spot is perfect for a late-night dinner or quick to-go meal.
Photo: Facebook.com/PataRojaTacos

Pata Roja Taqueria

1208 Sycamore St., Pendleton
Pata Roja Taqueria has found a permanent home in Pendleton on Bar Saeso’s patio space. The restaurant specializes in food inspired by Mexico City such as al pastor and bistec street tacos and bean stew with sausage. The bar patio provides outdoor seating to enjoy in the summer months. Guests can also choose indoor seating and order beer from the bar. This spot is perfect for a late-night dinner or quick to-go meal.
Photo: Facebook.com/PataRojaTacos
Frida 602
602 Main St., Covington
The restaurant, named after the legendary painter Frida Kahlo, has Kahlo’s portrait and famous unibrow emblazoned all over the place. The cocktail list is divided into margaritas and house cocktails made with either tequila or mezcal, and they offer both alcohols in a flight. The menu includes chips and salsas, burritos, tacos and sandwiches. The Brussels sprout and pescado tacos are local favorites.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Frida 602

602 Main St., Covington
The restaurant, named after the legendary painter Frida Kahlo, has Kahlo’s portrait and famous unibrow emblazoned all over the place. The cocktail list is divided into margaritas and house cocktails made with either tequila or mezcal, and they offer both alcohols in a flight. The menu includes chips and salsas, burritos, tacos and sandwiches. The Brussels sprout and pescado tacos are local favorites.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
La Mexicana
642 Monmouth St., Newport
Home of some of the city’s best tacos: tacos al pastor with delicious marinated pork shoulder, barbacoa, carne asada, lengua (tongue) and sesos (brains; they wash down perfectly with a cerveza). For vegetarians, wide-ranging fillings include seasoned pumpkin flower, corn truffle, hongos, beans and queso fresco. This inexpensive menu has been known to incite cravings after as little as one visit. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

La Mexicana

642 Monmouth St., Newport
Home of some of the city’s best tacos: tacos al pastor with delicious marinated pork shoulder, barbacoa, carne asada, lengua (tongue) and sesos (brains; they wash down perfectly with a cerveza). For vegetarians, wide-ranging fillings include seasoned pumpkin flower, corn truffle, hongos, beans and queso fresco. This inexpensive menu has been known to incite cravings after as little as one visit.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Gomez Salsa
107 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine; 2437 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills
Gomez has it all: fish tacos with slaw and Baja sauce, chips with pineapple salsa, taco salad bowls and owner Andrew Gomez’s greatest invention, the Turtle. Take a tortilla, stuff it with rice, beans, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, meat, veggies and cheese, layer in a tostado for crunch, put some cheese on the top and then brown it. It’s a fat little crunchy burrito envelope, a walking taco. 
Photo: Patty Salas

Gomez Salsa

107 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine; 2437 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills
Gomez has it all: fish tacos with slaw and Baja sauce, chips with pineapple salsa, taco salad bowls and owner Andrew Gomez’s greatest invention, the Turtle. Take a tortilla, stuff it with rice, beans, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, meat, veggies and cheese, layer in a tostado for crunch, put some cheese on the top and then brown it. It’s a fat little crunchy burrito envelope, a walking taco.
Photo: Patty Salas
Agave & Rye
Multiple locations including 635 Madison Ave, Covington
Agave & Rye is known for its “epic” tacos and over-the-top decor. Its inventive menu includes a wide variety of eats, including a generous helping of outlandish tacos. Some of the standouts include The Bomb with carne asada steak, chopped bourbon-poached shrimp, mac and cheese, A&R spicy chili, barbecue jam and tobacco jam; and The Cat’s Meow with white cheddar, grits, andouille sausage, bourbon shrimp, green onion, jambalaya sauce and crispy bell pepper. They also have a french fry taco.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Agave & Rye

Multiple locations including 635 Madison Ave, Covington
Agave & Rye is known for its “epic” tacos and over-the-top decor. Its inventive menu includes a wide variety of eats, including a generous helping of outlandish tacos. Some of the standouts include The Bomb with carne asada steak, chopped bourbon-poached shrimp, mac and cheese, A&R spicy chili, barbecue jam and tobacco jam; and The Cat’s Meow with white cheddar, grits, andouille sausage, bourbon shrimp, green onion, jambalaya sauce and crispy bell pepper. They also have a french fry taco.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Tacos El Joven
2157 Queen City Ave., Fairmount
When you make your way to Tacos El Joven, know that you are also en route to taco nirvana. Tacos El Joven doesn’t have much seating on-site, but you can also take your spoils to go. Two painted signs showcase their protein selection. You’ll see both what you would expect (chicken, shrimp, etc.) and more daring choices like beef tongue, brains and huitlacoche. The latter is a fungus that grows on corn, but it’s considered a delicacy and has been utilized by civilizations as far back as the Aztecs. This place really piles on the meat, too, so four tacos is a hearty meal. El Joven also offers quesadillas, tortas, burritos, huaraches and sopes.
Photo:  Lauren Moretto

Tacos El Joven

2157 Queen City Ave., Fairmount
When you make your way to Tacos El Joven, know that you are also en route to taco nirvana. Tacos El Joven doesn’t have much seating on-site, but you can also take your spoils to go. Two painted signs showcase their protein selection. You’ll see both what you would expect (chicken, shrimp, etc.) and more daring choices like beef tongue, brains and huitlacoche. The latter is a fungus that grows on corn, but it’s considered a delicacy and has been utilized by civilizations as far back as the Aztecs. This place really piles on the meat, too, so four tacos is a hearty meal. El Joven also offers quesadillas, tortas, burritos, huaraches and sopes.
Photo: Lauren Moretto
Lalo
26 W. Court St., Downtown
Lalo refers to itself as “Chino Latino” cuisine because Asia has a lot of Spanish and Latin influence. The menu ranges from tacos and burritos to rice and noodles, with dishes like Mexi Bibimbap or Mexi Pad Thai. Favorite tacos include the curry chicken, teriyaki tofu and drunken brisket. The eatery recently moved from its location on Main Street to Court Street. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Lalo

26 W. Court St., Downtown
Lalo refers to itself as “Chino Latino” cuisine because Asia has a lot of Spanish and Latin influence. The menu ranges from tacos and burritos to rice and noodles, with dishes like Mexi Bibimbap or Mexi Pad Thai. Favorite tacos include the curry chicken, teriyaki tofu and drunken brisket. The eatery recently moved from its location on Main Street to Court Street.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger