Birmingham’s finest Mexican eating places: Our prime 5

Birmingham’s finest Mexican eating places: Our prime 5

Seize a margarita, munch on some chips and take into account this query: What’s one of the best Mexican restaurant in Birmingham? Your reply could also be totally different from ours, and that’s an excellent factor. The metro space boasts a wealth of crave-worthy eateries specializing in Mexican delicacies — high quality eating, quick informal and every part in between. has been showcasing its picks for one of the best meals in Alabama, and so far as we’re involved, Birmingham is the star of the present. The Magic Metropolis, in any case, has received seven James Beard Awards, and town’s cooks and eating places frequently seem as finalists and semi-finalists for the accolades referred to as “the Oscars of the meals world.”

If had some particular eating awards to provide out — say, specializing in 5 locations that make us need to eat Mexican meals each single day — right here’s the place we’d bestow them. Now let’s head out the door for a fajita repair; simply eager about this matter is making us hungry.

READ:’s prime 5 picks for barbecue, pizza, burgers, ice cream, sizzling canines, doughnuts, breakfast, fried rooster and meat-and-three in Birmingham.

Rooster Tinga Tostada at El ZunZún, a Mexican restaurant in Vestavia Hills, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. (Mary Colurso |


4105 Crosshaven Drive in Vestavia Hills.

Right here’s the very first thing it’s best to know: This informal Latin American eatery is known as for a tiny Caribbean hummingbird that flies from Mexico to Alabama. And the second factor? El ZunZún was based by Becky Satterfield, the proprietor of Satterfield’s Restaurant. She teamed with chef Angela Schmidt in 2019, opening El ZunZún within the Cahaba Heights neighborhood of Vestavia Hills. Taste and authenticity are essential to the meals served at El ZunZún, from the rooster tortilla soup served as an appetizer to the new churros (fried donut sticks coated in cinnamon sugar) on the dessert menu. Carnivores have been recognized to drool over the meat quick rib enchiladas with home made mole sauce, and the pork carnitas are a slow-cooked dream. The various menu additionally options crispy fish tacos, avenue corn, chile relleno, pan roasted salmon, home made pork rinds and a mouth-watering queso. Confession: We grew to become a fan of El ZunZún as quickly because the server set down the large chips paired with two sorts of yummy salsa.

Order this: The Rooster Tinga Tostada is tasty and satisfying — and starter dish for first-timers. You’ll get a crispy tostada heaped with shredded chipotle rooster, crema, lettuce, avocado, queso fresco and cilantro, paired with inexperienced rice and black beans. Don’t neglect to order a margarita, in the event you’re inclined to imbibe. They’re refreshing, potent and never too candy, which is precisely how we like ‘em.

Shrimp Diabla at Sol Y Luna options smoky tequila-chipotle shrimp. (Cary Norton/Birmingham journal)


920 Lane Parke Cour in Mountain Brook.

Sol Y Luna was a groundbreaking eatery when it opened in Birmingham’s Lakeview neighborhood in 1997, introducing many people right here to Mexican tapas-style eating. These are mainly small plates of meals, served with beer, wine, cocktails or tequila. Consider tapas as savory bar snacks, finest when ordered in abundance and shared with congenial companions. Sol Y Luna closed in 2013, inflicting tapas followers to groan, however the restaurant has returned in high quality type on the Lane Parke procuring heart in Mountain Brook. Then and now, Sol Y Luna elevates the tapas expertise, with elegant dishes comparable to Shrimp Diabla, cilantro mint rooster skewers, iron skillet mussels, crabmeat enchiladas and puntas de puerco (oven roasted pork tenderloin medallions). The hearty eater in your life could also be hesitant to strive tapas, and — we’re not going to lie — ordering a number of dishes while you’re in full dinner mode generally is a expensive expertise. However the meals is top-notch at Sol Y Luna, and we consider this place as a beautiful splurge vacation spot.

Order this: You may’t go incorrect with Shrimp Diabla, a signature dish that options tequila and chipotle flambe jumbo shrimp, served on a mattress of garlic mashed candy potatoes with fried flour tortilla strips. One other delicious possibility? Fried duck empanadas, served with chimichurri sauce and queso fresco. Pair these with a tequila sampler — three half-shots from a premium choice — and also you’ll be in your solution to tapas heaven.

Grilled salmon with poblano peppers, corn, garlic mashed potatoes and queso fresco at Cantina Tortilla Grill in Homewood, Alabama. (Mary Colurso |


162 Oxmoor Street in Homewood.

Cantina Tortilla Grill was ultra-popular in Pepper Place throughout its run there, 2003-2019. Like Sol Y Luna, it was based by Guillermo Castro, a chef who grew up in Mexico and had a magical contact with meals. Castro, who died in 2011, stays a dominant power on Birmingham’s eating scene, because of members of the family who maintain his spirit alive with Castro’s signature delicacies. After a four-year hiatus, Cantina not too long ago returned with a brand new location in West Homewood, on the former website of Little London Kitchen. As earlier than, this informal eatery affords dishes which can be contemporary and flavorful. There are eight several types of tacos on the menu, together with tangy shrimp, shredded rooster tinga, vegetarian and Cuban. The Truck Fries, heaped with rooster or tenderloin, are perfect for of us with growling tummies. And we will’t get sufficient of the home made quacamole, served with a basket of crispy chips. (Diners will discover, by the way in which, that chips and salsa aren’t computerized on the tables right here; it’s important to get them organized like guacamole or queso.)

Order this: Our go-to at Cantina is the grilled salmon filet, served with poblano peppers, corn, garlic mashed potatoes and queso fresco. It’s one of many Platos Grandes, or “massive plates,” and each chunk is scrumptious. Additionally, the margaritas listed here are extremely advisable, whether or not you’re within the temper for key lime or prickly pear.

1 / 4 fried rooster plate with pinto beans, rice, pickled greens and a habanero-vinegar dipping sauce at Little Donkey Mexican Restaurant in Homewood, Ala.


2701 18th St. South, Suite 200 in Homewood; 5363 U.S. 280, Suite B100 in Hoover.

Have you ever ever heard of a Mexican restaurant that’s well-known for its fried rooster? Welcome to Little Donkey, an eatery that brings a Southern kick to genuine Mexican meals. When Little Donkey opened its first location in Homewood in 2012, lengthy traces snaked exterior the constructing, as of us waited to do that twist on a well known delicacies. Now Little Donkey is a beloved staple on our eating scene, because of chef Joshua Gentry. There are two areas within the Birmingham metro space, and a 3rd in Montgomery. The fiery fried rooster has earned kudos from web sites comparable to The Each day Meal, and this dish actually brings the warmth, because the fowl is brined in three totally different chilies. However the menu has treats aplenty, comparable to a smoked pork burrito bowl, smoked beef brisket burrito, Gulf shrimp fajitas and queso con carne. There are 4 totally different sorts of salsa — gotta recognize that — and over-the-top nachos that may be loaded with beef, rooster or pork.

Order this: Fried rooster, in fact. Newcomers may need to begin with the fried rooster sandwich, which incorporates a rooster breast topped by chipotle crema and Wickles Pickles, plus a selection of facet dish. (Mexican avenue corn, anybody?) Little Donkey additionally affords some interesting cocktails, such because the Rosemary Sage Paloma and Oaxaca Previous Long-established.

Grilled chorizo meatloaf is a signature dish at El Barrio, a restaurant in Birmingham. ( file photograph/Joe Songer)


2211 2nd Ave. North in Birmingham.

El Barrio won’t be essentially the most genuine Mexican restaurant in Birmingham, however this wonderful eatery tops our record for its inventive delicacies, upscale/funky decor and alluring environment. Brian Somershield and Geoff Lockert of Trattoria Centrale opened El Barrio in 2011, and the place (whose identify interprets to “The Neighborhood”) grew to become a direct hit. It’s simple to see why. The creative dishes are “Mexican impressed,” and embrace plantain nachos, grilled chorizo meatloaf, Masa roasted trout, bacon quesadillas, Barrio cornbread and a luscious orange cake. Every little thing tastes so darn good — sure, it sounds fundamental, however there’s no larger reward — and repeat guests might discover themselves merely taking place the menu and ordering one thing new every time. Extra conventional dishes (comparable to roasted chile relleno, chunky guacamole, ceviche, rooster enchiladas and pork tacos) are made with equal care and aptitude. The house owners of El Barrio aimed to be daring and imaginative, boosting the eating profile of downtown Birmingham. Mission achieved.

Order this: Go for the gusto with the grilled chorizo meatloaf, served with spinach, cotija-mashed potatoes, ranchera sauce and cumin bitter cream. It’s a longtime specialty at El Barrio, however we simply consider it as fancy consolation meals. And in the event you’re feeling adventurous, strive the spicy margarita, made with jalapenos and orange liqueur.


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