Mexican cuisine is attractive to many individuals due to the savory and diverse range of ingredients. It is appealing to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, with a variety of dishes for any occasion. Given my fascination for spicy food coupled with my experiences in various airports across the United States, I figured that I would share my top restaurants for Mexican food at American airports. When I visit Mexican restaurants, I am almost always with other people, so I have a chance to try most if not the entire menu. The restaurants listed below are all must-tries if stopping for a layover, or simply before or after any flight.
Tortas Frontera- Chicago, Illinois (ORD)
Star rating: ★★★★★
Consistently regarded as one of the best Mexican airport restaurants in the country, Tortas Frontera never fails to disappoint. From the warm flavor of authentic chicken tortilla soup, to the savory freshness of the chipotle chicken, roasted mushroom, and pepito tortas, this is a must have for any passenger at O’Hare. This Mexican cuisine is not as messy because the ingredients are packed into a savory sandwich.
Insider Tip: Pair the Pepito torta and the poblano corn chowder and dip it in to make the bread softer!
Mesa Verde Bar & Grill- Denver, Colorado (DEN)
Star rating: ★★★★★
The Mile High city airport has plenty to offer in terms of authentic Mexican cuisine. Not only is this restaurant delicious, but also it is also very affordable. The inventive menu that begins with the brussels sprouts with vegan chorizo to the polenta, and while unorthodox, the taste is indescribable. Moreover, the service is spectacular allowing for minimal waiting time for food.
Insider Tip: Try one meat dish and one veggie dish. The vegetarian dishes vastly differ in taste in comparison to the non-vegetarian dishes.
Javi’s- Santa Ana, California (SNA)
Star rating: ★★★★
Javi’s restaurant in Santa Ana airport is not only known for its tasty Mexican food but also it’s very classy interior. The beef and bean enchiladas coupled with a spicy yet limey jalapeño margarita is a very popular choice. While Javi’s is more expensive than the other restaurants mentioned in the list above, the outstanding service and the freshness of the food make it a must-stop for any passenger in southern California. Unfortunately, Javi’s is very expensive, even for the quality of the food, which gives this airport restaurant only 4 stars.
Insider Tip: Get the enchilada, taco, chile relleno combo with different types of meat in each!
Cantina Laredo- Dallas, Texas (DAL)
Star rating: ★★★
From the heart of this Texas airport, Cantina Laredo’s Mexican restaurant exceeds expectations and invites customers to enter with an empty stomach, and leave with a more than full one. Their roasted salsa is incredibly tasty coupled with the warmth of their crispy tortilla chips. Not to mention, for any early bird travelers, their Asada y Huevos (grilled meat and eggs) are a healthy and filling start to any morning. The reason for the docking of one star is due to the service being very adequate, at least during the few times I visited.
Insider Tip: Fill up on the chips and homemade salsa! This is the highlight of this restaurant.
The Original El Taco- Atlanta, Georgia (ATL)
Star rating: ★★★
The Orginal El Taco in the world’s busiest airport is a prime exhibitor of authentic Mexican food. Do not let the small size of the restaurant fool you, because there is an ample amount of variation for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. One should consider trying various dishes, as each item has a vivid different flavor. However, this restaurant is also quite expensive, even for airport food. Moreover, even though the main meals are delicious, the sides (rice and beans, pico) are relatively tasteless.
Insider Tip: Get the Shrimp Diablo Taco. You wont regret it.