Growing up in Arkansas, I always had the best Mexican food choices surrounding me. I was concerned with the move to Virginia for fear of losing my favorite comida, but the good news is, after over a decade of hard, absolutely necessary, and totally enjoyable research, I can guide you to the best local eats for your Cinco de Mayo or Taco Tuesday in the 757. Vamos a comer.
***Not all local restaurants are listed here. If you have a favorite, please leave it in the comments and tell us the best item on the menu there.
Not far from the chain Abuelo’s in Chesapeake, you’ll find a better dining experience at El Loro Mexican Restaurant. For the french fry lover out there, I would highly recommend the Papas Locas, and if you are all about fajitas, this is the place for you.
A bit on the pricier end, Luna Maya is an upscale Mexican restaurant in Ghent. Happy hour is the best time to go, but their menu items are very pleasing. They offer both vegetarian and vegan items. Items to try: the mushroom poblano quesadillas, the guacamole, taquitos (either the meat or vegetarian style), and the sangria.
Hands down my favorite, Jessy’s Tienda y Taqueria is not to be missed. You can shop for goods on the tienda side, and you can also sit and dine inside or in the covered patio area. The guacamole is fab, the portions are big, the California burrito is to die for, but the tacos, the street-style tacos? They are my favorite. Here, I like to wash my food down with a sangria swirl margarita. Be careful though, they are STRONG. Cross the street to the beach access way and sober up on the beach. This is all for the Ocean View, Norfolk location. They also have a sister location in Ghent, Norfolk called Jessy’s Taco Bistro. The food is good, but the best experience is in Ocean View.
If you ask my kids what their favorite place is, they’ll both say Plaza del Sol in Ghent, Norfolk. We often hit them up for Taco Tuesday, but the real tasty secret is their tortilla soup. They have a pseudo-patio that is great for a night out with a group.
In Olde Towne Portsmouth, you can grab a bite and a drink at 619 Cantina. The tacos are legit (particularly the mahi-mahi fish tacos), the carne asada is divine, and the margaritas are affordable and do you right. Plus, it is just a little different because you get to order by writing on a wipe-off menu.
Fresh is where it is at when you eat at Cancun Fiesta in Olde Towne Portsmouth. Fried Poppers are worth a go, and the Nachos Asada are a delight. My fave is the Tacos de Carne Asada meal. Drink a Kiki Margarita while you’re there. Your troubles will be gone in 3 sips.
One of the things I have learned over the years is that often the most authentic Mexican food is not in the snazziest of buildings. One might go as far to say a “hole in the wall” is not to be overlooked. With this in mind, let me point you to Los Cuates Tienda & Taqueria on Newtown Road in Virginia Beach. Most of the staff speaks Spanish, and you can purchase some Mexican goods to take home, but the meal is the real deal. I recommend the taco selections and the tamales.
Looking for fish tacos? Head to the Oceanfront! Gringo’s Taqueria in Virginia Beach is often voted for the best fish tacos, and I really enjoy the various Bowls offered (in particular the shrimp with pineapple salsa).
Sabor on the Peninsula
Head to Hampton to dine with the devil at El Diablo Loco Cantina & Tequila Bar. For those of you who just really enjoy beans and rice, check out the Tazon Grande. Otherwise, make sure to get the Elotes.
Another Hampton must is Los Cabos Mexican Grill. Taco Tuesday is a big thing there, and the portions are large. Try the Texas-style house margarita.
Mezcal Mexican Grill in Hampton is the place to be if you like mole. The Enchiladas Poblanas are so flavorful. And I also enjoy the Piña Loca, as it is not something you typically see around here.
If you are looking for the perfect taco in Newport News, check out Tacos Mexico on Warwick Boulevard. This is a very small place that packs a really big taste punch.
Things get crazy at Los Paisas Locos in Newport News. Something you don’t see on many menus that they do well? Pozole! I also recommend the Pupusas there.
Various Locations, Fiestas Abound
You can find a Plaza Azteca in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Newport News (a few locations), Hampton, Virginia Beach (multiple locations). Some locations serve bigger portions than others, but the food is always consistent. The table-side guacamole is a must. The empanadas are especially good, but what not to miss? The DRINKS!
With locations in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Williamsburg, and Newport News, you don’t have to drive far to run into a Jose Tequilas. The food is consistently good, but as the name of the restaurant suggests, the drinks are where it’s at!
La Parrilla Mexican Grill has locations in Suffolk (2), Chesapeake, and Hampton. This restaurant does offer many vegetarian options, but the best items are for the meat eaters. Try La Parrilla Especial or Pescado Veracruz.
An old-time favorite of mine, Tijuana Flats, is really Tex-Mex, but has a location in Virginia Beach and on in Suffolk. They have healthier options to your old faves, and the drinks are good while also reasonable. The bowls are great choices, but beware! Those jalapeños are NOT pickled, they are fresh (so they are hot). This restaurant also has a sauce bar with various sauce options for your tasting delight. DO NOT, I repeat, do not miss the churros.
Technically a food truck, not a restaurant, STUFT is a good one to run into as you are out and about in Hampton Roads. One of the items I appreciate about this food truck is the Soyrizo Dilla, a vegetarian option to a typical flavor. They also offer Elote Salads, so you get the tasty flavor and not so much corn stuck in your teeth.
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