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Good Mexican in Cincinnati

Anyone have any recommendations for good Mexican in Cincinnati?

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  1. My go-to place has always been El Rancho Grande in Sharonville. Yes, it's a (I think) chain and yes it serves typical Tex-Mex standard issue food. BUT, they get the food out in about 5 minutes, it's cheap and the beer is cold.

    I like Cactus Pear (which has locations in Blue Ash and Clifton), but kinda pricey for what you get.

    It's been many, many years since I've been to Slyvia's in Newport, KY (is it still open), but I've never had a bad meal there.

    1. There's a place on Route 4, about 1 or 2 miles south of Jungle Jim's, on the opposite side of the street, which has a tacqueria and bar on one side, and a Mexican bakery on the other side. We stopped there a couple years ago on a road trip to JJs, and we were the only gringos in the place, and it was good....sorry I don't have more info, perhaps local hounds will remember the name!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Niki in Dayton

        Taqueria Mercado. I loved it, hubby not so much, so I've only been once. I had a shrimp concoction with long and slow-cooked onions.

        1. re: Emm

          Never been to Mercado, but Taqueria Paisano's in Hamilton (High St.) is excellent. It's a dive, but appears to be clean. Be sure to get the tacos "Spanish style, " i.e., with cilantro and lime. Sometimes, they will assume that an Anglo wants tacos American style, i.e., with lettuce and cheese.

          Taqueria Paisano's
          747 High St, Hamilton, OH 45011

      2. It's actually in Northern Ky, but I've always liked:

        Montoya's Mexican Restaurant
        2507 Chelsea Drive, Fort Mitchell, KY

        1. Avoid Margarita's. I've also been to Los Portales, and while I didn't like it, I keep hearing back from friends that they think it's good, so I might try it again. My favorite is a hole in the wall in Newport, La Mexicana. I usually get tacos, and while they have the usual asada, pork and chicken, they also have goat, tongue and tripe. I go about once a month with a friend who grew up in San Diego, and he thinks it's the best he's found in Cincinnati.

          1 Reply
          1. re: johnbycz

            I'll third La Mexicana :) and speaking of places in NKY, have you heard of TAQUERIA CRUZ? It is located at 518 Pike Street in Covington, KY pretty close to Mainstrasse. Its kind of a hole in the wall place next to a laundry mat, but the food is good and authentic.

            Here is a link to a review (you will have to scroll down a little to find it) :

          2. I'll second La Mexicana. Try the goat meat tacos. Here's a link to a review with more details: http://winemedinemecincinnati.com/?p=629

            You might also want to try Taqueria, which although I have not been to, its been put on my "to-visit" list via this review I found: http://whatiatethisweek.com/blog/?p=53

            1. Rincon Mexicano in the Eastgate area has always been very good for us. Menu is somewhat typical, but it can surprise you. The Mole Poblano is especially good, I think.

              6 Replies
              1. re: jmckee

                Rincon seconded. They have been in the same location there under the same name since at least 1994, an eternity for a casual restaurant.

                1. re: donw9876

                  With an ever-changing supply of fresh staff.

                  Very good food. Very cold Dos Equis. And when my son was younger and I used what High School Spanish I could remember to make my obviously English-challenged waiter more at ease, they gave my boy a free Fried Ice Cream dessert.

                2. re: jmckee

                  My vote is for Rincon as well. We use to live near Eastgate but now drive from Montgomery (past Rancho Grande) to go to Rincon. Their Chili Verde, Chili Colorado and Mole are all very good.

                  1. re: jmckee

                    I tried Rincon after recently moving near Eastgate, and although it's better than the other local Mexican eateries I've tried, having spent the last dozen years in Los Angeles, I found it kind of...so-so. On the plus side, it had Negra Modelo beer, and an OK chile relleno. On the down side, the taco I ordered got so soggy sitting on the plate that it fell apart when I tried to eat it. This has happened to me at other places, too. Why not fry the tortillas and serve the tacos so they're not swimming in juice on a plate? Aren't the chefs/cooks/owners sampling their own dishes to see what their clients are experiencing?

                    Los Angeles Cafe
                    280 E Haven Ave # 30, New Lenox, IL 60451

                    Eastgate Bar
                    26449 Gratiot Ave, Roseville, MI 48066

                    1. re: Mr. Cookie

                      Ok, but you're not in Los Angeles any more. You are in Cincinnati.

                      I'm surprised at your experence. I've never had a similar experience at Rincon.

                      1. re: jmckee

                        I'm not sure what having lived in Los Angeles has to do with being served an unacceptably soggy taco in Cincinnati or anywhere else, but I am looking forward to trying some of the other local Mexican places mentioned in this and other strings.

                        Los Angeles Cafe
                        280 E Haven Ave # 30, New Lenox, IL 60451

                  2. Nada is pretty good. It's located in downtown Cincinnati. It's more upscale bistro food than comida autentica. Good for going out with friends late at night.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: melanie1128

                      Having just moved here from Los Angeles, I wouldnt really call Nada "mexican" food. Its really just smart Latin influenced food from different countries using similar techniques. Its great though and I agree with Melanie. I was also told by a good source that La Mexicana is really good too. (i've havent been yet) I think its on Monmouth street in Newport. Its supposed to be authentic and very good.

                    2. Our favorite in the area is Tequeria Mercado 6507 Dixie Hwy
                      Fairfield, OH 45014(513) 942-4943 (off of rt 4). It is heavily frequented by spanish speaking locals and doesn't offer the typical americanized dishes (not even chips and salsa). It also has a mexican general store and bakery (extremely good churros there) in the same plaza. I highly recommend anyone searching for quality mexican food to check it out.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: qkalis

                        As Emm said above, that's the name of the place near Jungle Jim's grocery. The food was very good when we were there; make a day of it and stop in for lunch before a visit to Jungle Jim's, which is must for any foodie in the area!

                        1. re: qkalis

                          Just ate lunch today at Tacqueria Mercado. Had a couple of tacos (Mexican sausage and pork), a fish tostada, and a GRANDE burrito--WOW--that thing was about 8X4 and as big around as your fist--it could have fed 3 people--biggest burrito I have ever seen--so don't overorder--fish tostada was most interesting--had several large pieces of avocado on top of it. Liked the cilantro and lime juice on the tacos.Afterward, I visited the Mexican bakery several doors over and brought home some large churros and creme-filled pastries. TM is a great place for one stop eating and shopping. Very authentic.

                          1. re: KyMikey

                            Does Taqueria Mercado offer homemade corn tortillas? More specifically;do they offer bags of homemade corn tortillas to go? A good friend of mine lives fairly near there and I'd love to point him to a good source.

                            1. re: scrumptiouschef

                              Don't know--just ate there yesterday and their tostadas and chips were excellent--they have a separate grocery there (and a bakery and a meat store) so I would imagine that they do. It's a very authentic place. Sorry i didn't read your question until just now :-(

                        2. El Ranchito (at 7725 Five Mile Road (at Beechmont) across from the Anderson Town Center) isn't often mentioned but we found it awfully authentic with good prices and good service.. We have tried it twice and each time our dinners were good (but not fancy or elegant food). The place is owned and run by a mexican family and the father returns to Mexico every few months to get authentic ingredients for some of his dishes.

                          And, yes, we agree, the Taq. Mercado is fun and interesting to visit. We buy our holiday tamales and homemade chorizo from them and other assorted hard to find ingredients for mexican food. The food in the cafe is good, too, in a casual, low-key kind of way. Of ocurse, don't go there if you're on a diet! I think their place in Kentucky closed last year, though. At least it wasn't there when we went to get our tamales in 2007.

                          And we agree Rincon in Eastgate (SR 32 Exit off 275) is another popular one and it's nice to eat there before going to the movies next door. I think it was voted 'best mexican' restaurant one year.

                          I have to second the Nada addition to the list, too. Even though it's not the sort of casual fiesta type place with clay tiles and plastic tortilla baskets, the tacos, tamales and margaritas are pretty good and when you have the taste from some more sophisticated (cumin and chili) spiced food it's a good resource. It's our go-to place for a casual fun place when entertaining out of towners (mostly from CA).

                          I'll be interested to follow this thread along since we are always looking for new good mexican places to try.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: dumas

                            I agree with you on El Ranchito. I don't eat there often, but what I've had there is good.

                          2. My son is a freshman at U/Cincinnati and we've tried Habanero's when we've visited him as we're in Akron, OH- it is pretty good - I don't know if you'd call that Mexican. They have a website. They have one location on Ludlow near the UC campus and one in Newport on the Levee. Kind of a fun place with a fun atmosphere.

                            1. FYI, Los Portales at Skytop (in front of Bigg’s on Beechmont Levee) has closed. I believe they had another location in town (Blue Ash?), but don’t know its fate. Saw them removing the sign last night and this morning saw a sign for El Rancho Grande on the building. Came back to this thread and was interested to see that the El Rancho Grande in Sharonville was mentioned. I ate there once, and agree that it’s cheap, fast and not bad for what it is. Considering how close this location is, I’ll probably give it a try.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: intuitive eggplant

                                They didn't close, they just changed the name.
                                El Rancho Grande and Los Portales have always been owned by the same people, they just wanted to make the names the same.

                              2. take a road trip to El Sol in indy.....real mexican...real mole...eggs...fresh tortilla.s

                                1. just up the road from taqueria mercado on Boymel dr. is another awesome authentic mexican restaurant, Acapulco. It is my favourite, I have never had a bad experience here. The food is amazing, a great deal, there are awesome drink specials, and the staff are all wonderful.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: hollymayberry

                                    How odd -- I ate there for the first time just last night and enjoyed it very much. I can't speak for authentic, but the tacos al pastor were huge, spicy and the beef was cooked right (not the hard nuggets I've had elsewhere). Service was great and for a Sunday night it was very busy. For $7.50 I walked out full (as they say, quantity has its own quality). I'd go back.

                                    1. re: johnbycz

                                      There is an Acapulco location in Lebanon (the old Big Bear plaza, and behind Walgreen's.) Prices are excellent, the food and portions are excellent, and the service is exceptional.

                                  2. Thought this might interest most of the people in this thread. Apparently Columbus has numerous taco trucks throughout the city. -> http://tacotruckscolumbus.com/

                                    Anyone know of Cincinnati having any?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: angs9

                                      I travel all over Hamilton/Butler/Clermont counties and I've never seen one. Sounds like a good business opportunity. Of course, you can't really swing a dead cat and NOT hit a Mexican restaurant of some type or other around here. They're popping up all over the place.

                                      1. re: angs9

                                        Just saw a comment on cincinnati.com that there may be one in the parking lot of the Hispanic market on Queen City, near where Louisiana Fish used to be.

                                      2. El Ranchito for sure. Great service and always good cooking.

                                        El Ranchito
                                        7725 5 Mile Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45230

                                        1. I second La Mexicana and Taquiera Mercado. There is Taquiera Maya in Mason (next to the best Chinese place in town, Sichuan Bistro) owened by the owners of Taquiera Mercado- it's really good as well.

                                          Nada is modern food with a slight attempt at mexican food. I love going there for drinks, service and socializing but definitely not the food.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: LiberalFoodie

                                            Just went to Taquiera Mercado for the first time tonight. Kind of a dive, but the food was fantastic (and dirt cheap, too). I wish it wasn't so far from my house or I'd get there more often.

                                            1. re: JohnE O

                                              Cool - what did you have? It's always on our radar for a stop before a Jungle Jim's run....going to JJ's full is the best plan :-)

                                              1. re: Niki in Dayton

                                                I had the (seviche?) tostada and refried beans and my daughter had the steak tacos. Luckily she was unable to finish hers so I had to "help" her out. By the way, further south on Rt. 4 is a Peruvian restaurant (on the corner of Mack and 4) that was highly recommended by friends from Peru. I'm going to check that out next.

                                                1. re: JohnE O

                                                  Yes, we tried the Peruvian restaurant 2 times and it was fun and good. Very good service and the waitress steered us to some really good interesting choices.

                                                  1. re: dumas

                                                    the mile stretch along rt 4 with taqueria mercado, sabor peruano (the peruvian restaurant you speak of), and acapulco now has a couple other amazing south american restaurants- the green plaintain and el havanero. check them both out! amazing :)

                                          2. There's a new place in West Chester that we can walk to so we go there all the time--Los Amigos. They have the best carne asada that I have ever had in the States. Their margaritas and sangria are great and they have fresh salsa, both mild and hot. Both are excellent which is more than I can say for Margarita's (I can't stand that place). All the other chain places around like El Rancho Grande are okay, but nothing special. I miss the place in Fairborn we used to go--I think it was called Rio Grande but everyone just called it "the Mexican Restaurant" because that's all you could see of the sign from the street. Their pollo fundito was delicious and my all time favorite dish! Check them out if you are in the Dayton burbs!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: mamma_spice

                                              With little response to my corn tortilla query at Taqueria Mercado I decided to book a flight from Austin to Cincinnati and do a little investigative work.

                                              Walking out of the "Cincinnati"[actually northern Kentucky]airport there was this weird stuff falling out of the sky.It took a moment to recognize rain[Travis county Texas is in an historic drought].That,coupled with the fact that it was noon and not 105 degrees really threw me off for a bit.

                                              A half hour later we're rolling up Dixie Highway on the hunt for tortillas.Taqueria Mercado is in a small plaza in a part of town littered with every kind of franchise known to man.The epicenter of deliciousness in the area is nearby Jungle Jims,the eccentric and elaborate maze-like grocery store that I hit whenever I'm within a couple hundred miles of southern Ohio.

                                              The taqueria is a nicely run down and filled with Mexican families tucking into big platters of some good looking chow. We bull our way up to the order counter,grab a menu and take a gander.

                                              All the requisite offerings are here:Carne Asada,Al Pastor,Barbacoa[mysteriously billed as steamed beef]Pollo,Carnitas,Chorizo,Tripas,Suadero and Lengua.The tacos are pricey compared to my normal Austin haunts with all coming in at two dollars with the exception of carne asada at two twenty five.

                                              The carne asada is good with a nice charcoal flavor but the corn tortilla is not homemade.It is a good quality commercial offering however.The barbacoa is ok but not of the freshest order.carnitas are the star of the show.Billed as fried pork,these have actually been braised and could've benefited from a little time on the flattop.The flavor however is spot on.We also grab a couple cheese quesadillas and they are fantastic.The flour tortillas have been griddled in copious cow's butter and are stuffed to the gills with good quality chewy white cheese.Both the red and the green salsas are top notch.The green a nice loose,tomatilla base.The red is just pureed chiles in a water base.Hot,simple and good.We wash everything down with some fine,housemade horchata before heading next door to the panaderia.

                                              Good idea.I love to carb load at a Mexican bakery and the churros are delicious,clearly homemade and dusted with lots of cane sugar and cinnamon.

                                              I walk next door to the fruiteria and am rewarded with some gorgeous big,fat Haas avocados at .75 cents apiece. I finish off the trip with a 30 pack of Chicago corn tortillas. Back at my friends manse I open the pack and this unearthly smell of horse stable wafts out of the pack.Earthy,slightly sweet and corny they're even better than the house offering.After griddling in some hot peanut oil they provide a fine wrapper for our fish tacos we fried up with Tilapia purchased from nearby Jungle Jims.

                                              Taqueria Mercado is a good resource.Cincy hounds are fortunate to have a tienda this authentic.

                                              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                                Sorry i didn't get your question until just now, but glad to see you made a follow-up trip to the area last year to check out the "Miracle Mile or 3" :-) I think you'll agree it was worth the trip.After all, you're only a couple miles from jungle Jims which is a mandatory stop for all foodies and Hounds who visit these parts.

                                            2. La Mexicana (Newport, KY, on Monmouth St.) is supposed to be amazing - my former boss (executive chef) loves it. I just haven't had the chance to check it out.

                                              I can vouch for El Ranchito. It's Tex-Mex, not truly Mexican, but very good nonetheless.

                                              La Mexicana Restaurant
                                              642 Monmouth St, Newport, KY 41071

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: cmj

                                                Is that the place where you can get goat meat? I've heard good things about that place. I was wondering if anyone knows of Montoya's is still open? Tried to go there after flying in on the 4th of July and they had a strange message on their machine about being closed due to weather. Haven't eaten there forever, but I have fond memories.

                                                1. re: cresyd

                                                  I think so. Also, this month's Cincinnati Magazine has a review of local Mexican places.

                                                  1. re: cresyd

                                                    I've heard you can get goat meat there. Like I said, I haven't had a chance to check it out but it's top on my list!

                                                    1. re: cmj

                                                      Okay, I've now been to La Mexicana and can say it's very, very good. Taquiera Mercado has moved (or maybe just opened a second location?) downtown and it has become an addiction for me and my husband. We eat there nearly every time we go downtown.

                                                    2. re: cresyd

                                                      Montoya's is definitely still open--just ate there several months ago--has been there a long time, and being closed was probably a fluke. (Maybe it was a power outage--the lines are still above the ground there and I used to live right around the corner)

                                                  2. I had found a really good, cheap Mexican restaurant in Mason called Taqueria Maya on Mason Montgomery, but to my dismay the last time I was going to go there for lunch I found that it was no longer there! A sub shop had sprung up in its place. I'm happy to report that it has relocated and reopened over by the King's Automall. I ate there last week and the food is still fabulous. If you're around the Mason area I recommend it!
                                                    Taqueria Maya
                                                    9996 Kings Automall Dr
                                                    Cincinnati, OH 45249
                                                    (513) 677-6292‎

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: mikjackson77

                                                      Thanks for the address on Taqueria Maya. Will definitely try that one on our way to Costco!

                                                      1. re: dumas

                                                        I'm pretty sure they still sell the spicy goat soup on weekends, haven't been in awhile though. It's served with lots of dried peppers, onion, cilantro and lime. Really really good.