Ten SPOTS:


To get great Mexican Food.

By Jason Horn

Iguana Grill

Iguana Grill

In a Lorna Road shopping center that also contains one of the area’s largest Latin-American supermarkets, this gorgeously designed restaurant serves food that’s a step or two fancier than your average Mexican joint. Try the queso fundido con chorizo or any of the seafood dishes. 2085 Colonial Drive, Hoover; 987-8240

La Bamba Grill
The list of dishes may be a bit short, but this Edgewood spot makes all of ‘em well. The chiles rellenos, stuffed with gooey cheese, are a highlight, as are any of the varieties of fajitas. If you go at lunchtime, stop in next door at Dreamcakes for cupcake dessert. 1006 Oxmoor Road, Homewood; 637-7331

Gordo’s Market
Talk about a triple threat: Gordo’s holds a small supermarket, a bakery, and one of Birmingham’s best taquerias. The setting is no-frills, but the fresh corn tortillas topped with any of about eight fillings ranging from nopal cactus to beef tongue, can’t be beat. Come on the weekend for the menudo and pozole as well. 433 Valley Ave., Homewood; 916-0707

El Cazador
There’s nothing on the menu here that can’t be found at countless other similar restaurants, but this one makes all of them reliably well. The extensive list of dishes includes quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas and lots of other classics. The spacious spot can also accommodate very large groups for parties and the like. 1540 Montclair Rd., 951-1205

Taqueria Guzman

Everybody knows this as simply as “the taco truck” (there is a second taco truck in the area, in Tarrant, but this one is much better known). It parks at a Texaco station every day but Monday and dishes out super-tasty tacos and burritos that are best eaten standing right there in the parking lot. 215 West Valley Ave., Homewood

Rojo

Given its vast patio, excellent beer selection and weekly trivia nights, this Highland Park establishment masquerades as just a bar. But the Mexican dishes coming out of the kitchen are solid. Try the bbq burrito, a unique combo of tender chicken or pork, rice and beans, and tangy Southern-style sauce. 2921 Highland Ave.; 328-4733; rojobirmingham.com

Pinches Tacos

An authentic Southern California taqueria—its other locations are in Hollywood and Santa Monica—this small chain recently landed in downtown Homewood. Have a taco, torta, burrito or enchilada made with several delicious choices; the orange-and-lime-scented carnitas and spicy-sweet pollo mole are your best bets.

300 Hallman Hill East, Suite 300, Homewood; 536-6511; pinchestacos.com

Sol y Luna
Most Mexican spots are cheap and quick, but the nation’s cuisine also has a more elegant side, one that’s well-expressed by this Lakeview restaurant. From the crabmeat empanadas to the chile relleno with pomegranate and goat cheese sauce, the menu impresses. The excellent margaritas and largest tequila selection in town don’t hurt, either. 2811 7th Ave. South 322-1186; birminghammenus.com/solyluna

Chuy’s
Surprisingly, Tex-Mex is a cuisine Birmingham doesn’t have very much of. Good thing this Austin-based chain decided to fill the void and open up in the Summit last year. A set of house-made sauces ranging from rich and creamy to searingly spicy top a range of cheesy, meaty and deep-fried classics. 216 Summit Blvd., Suite 135; 977-4224; chuys.com

Sol Azteca
On some nights, there’s a live mariachi band wandering this Vestavia establishment. But even when there’s not, the place has a fun and friendly vibe. The portions are generous, the margaritas are cheap, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time. The spicy salsa that’s set down with chips when you take a seat is one of the city’s best, to boot. 1360 Montgomery Hwy., Vestavia Hills; 979-4902

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