I’m a pretty picky eater, and while Mexican food can tend to be on the riskier side, I can somehow always find simple dishes with relatively minimal ingredients that still taste delicious. I try my best to eat healthy, so if you’re looking to do the same, check out my meal of choice. At the same time, I also #treatmyself when I’m hungry and start to smell cilantro, melting cheese, and frying tortilla chips. So make sure you take my recommendations with a grain of salt (get it?). Without further ado, here are my picks for when you’re craving some Latin flair in the Big Easy.
1. Johnny Sanchez: 10/10
Great vibes and even better food. I can never decide whether I want to eat or drink more because everything just tastes so good! Johnny Sanchez is in a prime location in the French Quarter, located two blocks away from Willa Jean, so you can pop over there to try their famous cookies + milk after! Or, if you feeling like #gettinglit, you can head to Bourbon Street, which is just half a mile away! Be sure to try their special vegetarian crispy cauliflower tacos, served with a splash of queso fundido!
Deals: Happy Hour Monday-Friday, 2pm-6pm with ½ off margs, beer, wine, and $2 tacos!
My meal: guacamole (with plantain chips), wood grilled pescado (fish), and a pitcher of red wine sangria
2. La Casita: 8/10
This cute Oak Street spot’s slow-braised brisket with pico de gallo, salsa verde. and torched Monterey Jack cheese has been praised by websites, food critics, and social media. Students swarm to La Casita for happy hour, so there’s usually a long wait. My fellow queso fanatics have identified La Casita as having one of the best (and meltiest!) recipes in the city. But if you prefer something a little less cheesy, the elote mexican corn and strawberry margaritas are a dangerously delicious combo.
Deals: Happy Hour Monday-Friday, 3-6pm with $4 margs ($16 pitcher), $5 sangria, $2 beers, and $2.50 tacos
My meal: Two chicken street tacos, trio (chips + guac, salsa, queso), pineapple cilantro margarita
3. Juan’s Flying Burrito: 8/10
Juan’s also has drool-worthy queso, especially when it’s on top of their wet burrito, which is larger than Kanye West’s head. The crawfish queso is popular if you’re down for a flavor-packed New Orleans twist. All the food is a little heavy, but the Tijuana Caesar (try substituting shrimp!) is SO yummy and a healthier option!
Deals: Happy Hour Monday-Friday, 2-7pm + all day Sunday with $5 double margaritas and $1 beers
My meal: Nachos with chicken
4. Tacos & Beer: 8/10
At this hip spot with a cute outdoor patio, the seafood soup is their delicious hidden gem. They have PHAT and yummy burritos, 12 taco specials, and the best and biggest margaritas in the city. I mean, come on, they won “Top Margarita” at the Top Taco Extravaganza this year. The only downside is that it’s slightly more expensive than some other places, but its 100% worth it—especially during Happy Hour!
Deals: Happy hour Monday-Friday, 3-6pm with $1 tacos, $3 drafts, $3 margs
My meal: Los Sopes with chicken, mango + raspberry frozen Margarita Swirl
5. Felipe’s: 7/10
If you’re looking for something cheap, dank, and close to campus, Felipe’s is always an easy option. The line is long, but it moves really quickly and there are always open tables like every classic fast food restaurant. The food is definitely a little greasy but in a good way! The super burrito is a great option if you’re really hungry.
Deals: $4 Mojito Mondays, $3.50 Sangria Tuesdays, $4 Marg Wednesdays, $5 draft Thursdays, $4 Marg Fridays (4-7pm), $6 “Bloody Marias” all weekend
My meal: Chicken Tinga quesadilla with tortilla soup
6. Araña: 7/10
You can get my favorite greasy salt + lime tortilla chips here. They’re perfect. And so is their Tequila bar. Their fajitas are tasty and filling, but their chiliquiles are life changing. It’s a great restaurant for large group dinners or birthdays and I definitely recommend going ASAP.
Deals: Happy Hour Monday-Friday, 3-7pm with ½ priced tacos and drinks,
My meal: Shrimp Fajitas
7. Chipotle: 5/10
Yes, Chipotle is an all time fave, but I swear it doesn’t taste as good in NOLA than in other cities and it’s pretty far from campus. It’s probably not worth trekking to when you have Felipe’s right around the corner. While it’s not a bad idea, you can definitely do better.
My meal: 2 sofritas tacos and chips + guac
8. Taco Bell: 2/10
The best option at this nationwide chain is the Doritos Locos taco. I guess I understand if you’re really desperate in the middle of the night…or if you’re looking to spend under $5, but with all of the other options in New Orleans, you’re better off ordering in from somewhere else.
Deals: Happy Hour Monday-Sunday, 2-5pm with $1 drinks
My meal: Awkward because I’ve never been…
9. Al Fuego :1/10
Located in Tulane’s very own LBC, I would recommend never getting food from here unless you’re down to your last Wave Bucks that need spending. The lettuce is soggy and brown, the chicken is dry….and you can also just feel the lack of love from the LBC workers.
My meal: Get Panera instead.
COVER PHOTO: Justin Haber