If you do an Internet search for the best Mexican restaurants in Idaho, authentic south of the border cuisine lovers will see a disappointingly high number of chains rise to the top of the list. But we all know that true, greasy, hearty Mexican food doesn’t come in a brown paper bag — it’s all about the family recipes, slow cooking times, and exorbitant amounts of spices and meat piled high and fried in every conceivable way. Am I right?
You know I am.
Here are 9 of Idaho’s top Mexican restaurants ready to satisfy your biggest carne asada and taco cravings.
1. El Paisa, Coeur d'Alene
Notably labeled as "drool-worthy" across reviews, this unassuming eatery will rock your mouthparts (all of them) with chile-cheese-tomatoey goodness, all accompanied by mouthwateringly fragrant tomato rice and beans. Freshly made horchata, tender and succulent classic enchiladas, and even more divine taquitos rancheros are just a few of the incredible items you'll simply have to taste to believe.
2. Enrique's Mexican Restaurant, Kuna
Formerly El Gallo Giro, Enrique's has a long-standing reputation for serving the best authentic Mexican fare in the Treasure Valley. Dependable, tasty, and freshly prepared with the utmost in Tex-Mex homestyle goodness, it's not unusual to see the scratch tortillas being pressed as you wait.
3. Despo's, Ketchum
With award-winning salsa made fresh daily, a fantastic outdoor patio that features stunning views, and a customer-focused environment committed to healthy living, Despo's has clearly earned its stellar reputation for knockout Latin American cuisine. Locals rave about its portion sizes, atmosphere, and authenticity -- and just as importantly, its regionally-sourced ingredients. It all adds up to a memorable and nutritious Mexican experience that you can feel good about, inside and out.
4. Morenita's Mexican Restaurant and Bakery, Idaho Falls
People drive for miles just to stop at this cozy, locally-owned restaurant for their handmade tortillas and Milanesa. All of the classics like taco rancheros and chorizo burritos, all topped with as much fresh cilantro, lime, and onion as you like. They've been in business for a few decades, so you can bet the ladies at Morenita's are doing more than a few things right!
5. Tacos Cecy, Lewiston
This true hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint is as real as it gets. Owned by Cecy herself, this taqueria will never fail to serve just the right balance of tortilla, meat, and toppings in its savory street tacos, drizzled in red and green sauces of every spice level imaginable. Diners particularly rave about the Walla Walla tacos, but every entree on the menu has enough authentic love stirred in that you simply can't go wrong.
6. El Toro, Soda Springs
This true mom-and-pop Mexican restaurant lights up Eastern Idaho with its combination of authentic dishes and unique menu items. Out of this world carnitas served hot and tender with a light crust will leave you with a smile on your face.
7. Janitzio, Twin Falls
A local oasis in Southern Idaho, this family-style Mexican restaurant gets a great deal of love for its fajitas and offerings of both shredded and ground beef -- something that is a must when customizing your entree.
8. Mi Pueblo, Bonners Ferry
Phenomenal Mexican food can be hard to find this far north, but Mi Pueblo, a cozy family owned establishment, does it so well that they have launched multiple locations in the panhandle. Large portions, fresh preparation, and a bit of south of the border in every bite will cause a fiesta in your mouth.
9. Joel's Mexican Restaurant, Sandpoint
A SoCal/Baja Mexican favorite in humble Sandpoint, Joel's was the running for "Best Burrito in America" in 2014, which is quite the accolade! Featuring an expansive and fully homemade menu that is so beloved that it is repeatedly called out by diners as forever ruining them from eating anywhere else, Joel's also boasts standout breakfast burritos and vegan options that are to die for.
Mexican food – Tex-Mex, Latin, Baja, and all of its derivatives – is just plain ol’ Mexican food unless it’s done right. And these restaurants do it