Tacos in Las Vegas? You better believe it.
I understand the reputation of visiting Las Vegas was built on shrimp cocktail and prime rib. However, that was our parents’ Las Vegas when either luxury could be had for a song and gourmet chefs hadn’t established their culinary empires in Sin City.
Today, you’re just as likely to find amazing noodles, dumplings, meatballs, soul food, or sushi in Las Vegas as you are the famous buffet staples of steak and shrimp. Even better, you’re likely to run across some of the best damn tacos you’re ever going to shove down your gullet. It’s all part of Las Vegas’ culinary reconstruction and our taste buds love it.
Of course, like other cuisines, Las Vegas offers a lot of choices so I present ten places you can satisfy your taco craving with complete confidence of getting a great meal.
10 – ¡Salud! Tacos at Palace Station
This San Diego transplant opened in March of 2019 to great fanfare. The menu features a nice blend of baja- and California-inspired tacos, hard shell tacos and an insane delicacy known as the califa a taco topped with your choice of meat and French fries.
When you go, try the birra (shredded beef in beer) and fried catfish and their amazing frijoles. You won’t be sorry!
Another added bonus is the variety of casino games offered at Palace Station which is always as good thing.
9 – Taqueria El Buen Pastor
For the number nine restaurant, we leave the cushy indoor food scene and head out to a food truck with a reputation for amazing tacos: Taqueria El Buen Pastor. The tacos served from the truck are authentic street style with meat, soft shells, cilantro and onions. For those looking to spice up their meal, salsas can be tossed on in various levels of fire.
Radish can be added for extra crunch, which I also highly recommend.
You have several meat choices at Taqueria El Buen Pastor. So, if it is your first time (or your first time eating traditional street tacos), a simple beef taco is your best bet. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, the have trompo (basically Mexican-style gyro meat.) Get that. You won’t be sorry.
8 – Cabo Wabo Cantina at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino
Located in the Miracle Mile Shops in Las Vegas, Cabo Wabo is one of the restaurant incarnations of Sammy Hagar’s tequila/lifestyle cabo wabo. At some level, Cabo Wabo’s tacos are a bit of a strange addition to the list because they are not nearly as authentic as a lot of entries on this list.
However, they are really good and if you want to eat decently cost-effectively along the strip, a platter of short rib tacos from Cabo Wabo is not the worst place to go. Yes, there are more authentic places, but Cabo Wabo is fairly conveniently located and you won’t be sorry if you go.
Especially if you pair them a shot or two of tequila.
7- El Dorado Cantina
The El Dorado Cantina may not be the most family-friendly place to get tacos because it shares land with the Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club, but we didn’t claim that Las Vegas or this list was family friendly, just that you could get awesome tacos here.
Not only are they tasty, the tacos at El Dorado Cantina are made from non-GMO food sources and there is a nice selection of gluten free options. It’s probably not what you expect from a place where you are expected to get your change in singles for the joint next door, but who am I to complain. I’ll take healthy food wherever I can get it.
6- Border Grill at Mandalay Bay
Anyone who has been to a convention at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino has been forced to walk past Border Grill at least once a day. This Mexican place is the brain child of two Top Chef Masters: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger who bring a decidedly gourmet spin to the humble taco.
Unfortunately, the tacos are not anyone’s idea of cheap. However, the al pastor and brisket tacos are both dialed to eleven and are everything you want from an elevated taco. Look this place up when you want Mexican on the strip.
5- Tacos El Gordo
Tacos El Gordo is just what Las Vegas needed: a late night place to get some food. There’s not a lot of those in Las Vegas.
Okay, that’s not true, but still located right on the Strip, you can tear into tacos, sopes, quesadillas and other Mexican delights made from your choice of buche (don’t ask), cabeza (exactly what you think it is if you took even basic Spanish), adobada and other, safer choices.
All that really means is Tacos El Gordo is completely authentic and a favorite place for tacos in Las Vegas.
4- Hussong’s Cantina at The Shoppes at Mandalay Bay
The list returns to the Las Vegas Strip and the shores of Mandalay Bay with Hussong’s Cantina, a taqueria to be enjoyed in the Mandalay Bay’s Shoppes area. Hussong’s Cantina is another less authentic joint that injects a little Las Vegas flair into the taco, but the results are just too good to pass up.
The menu packs a lot of Tex-Mex staples: nachos, ceviche, grilled corn, etc. But it also features eight different tacos ranging from vegetarian to barbacoa to chicken to pork belly (with maple bacon aioli) or shrimp. In other words, there’s something for everyone’s taste in this casino eatery.
3- KoMex Fusion
We couldn’t talk about the amazing tacos in Las Vegas and not put at least one fusion taco on the list. That honor goes to the KoMex’s fusion homegrown blend of Korea and Mexican flavors, blended together.
Those who drive to KoMex (it’s roughly fifteen minutes from the Strip) will be treated to fusion tacos with beef, chicken, pork, tofu, calamari, fish or shrimp tacos, bulgogi cheese steaks, fusion chimis and other East meets West style dishes most of which come with KoMex slaw and some truly next level pico de gallo. Give it a shot. You won’t be sorry.
2- Taco y Taco Mexican Eatery
Taco y Taco is another authentic Mexican joint with a menu that could fit in a taqueria straight out of Mexico.
After choosing your food of choice, you then pick your meat. You choices of meat are vegetables, mushrooms, cheese or real meat like chicken, asada, barbacoa, chorizo, soyrizo (a meatless chorizo replacer), al pastor, beef brains, chicharrons in green chile sauce and other there’s still more. It’s hard to find a more complete menu in town.
Taco y Taco also really nails the upscale vs authentic debate. The food at Taco y Taco has every right to claim authenticity. However, the ingredients are of the highest quality, the presentation looks like it could come from a Michelin restaurant and everything carries just that little extra hint of class.
In the end, this restaurant really shouldn’t be number two on the list. It’s more like it’s tied for first place with our next entry.
1 – China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan
China Poblano remains one of the weirdest restaurants in Las Vegas. Located inside the Cosmopolitan Casino, the restaurant is half Mexican, and half Chinese with absolutely no fusion food. Still, the last time I went, China Poblano made me rethink nopales (cactus) tacos forever (and for the better.)
China Poblano features several different tacos, but the star really is that nopales taco with a huge slice of queso fresco in a perfect flour taco. It wasn’t the cheapest taco I’ve ever had, but it was more than worth it for every bite.
Given how diverse Las Vegas is, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of authentic taco restaurants in Las Vegas. Also, given how gourmet Las Vegas is, it’s no surprise there are a lot of upscale taco places that are serving refined tacos in a luxury setting.
Still, no matter where you fall on the taco spectrum (upscale or authentic), Las Vegas has a place that you are going to fall head-over-heels in love with. If you’re on the Strip, that place is probably Border Grill, Hussong’s Cantina or China Poblano because they’re convenient and more than a little delicious. Still, when you’re on the Strip you are paying Strip prices.
You can take an Uber to Taco y Taco or KoMex and maybe even save money on the outing if you’re looking for something that’s either undoubtedly authentic or creatively fusion. No matter what, the choice is all yours. It’s really not possible to have a bad taco at any of the taco joints on the list, so try them all.
Trust me. You’ll have a great meal.