12 Awesome Mexican Restaurants in Columbia | by locals

There are so many great Mexican restaurants in Columbia. While some you may have heard of, several of the ones on this list are hidden gems located a bit out of town. And actually, a few are hidden gems located right under your nose.

Each restaurant highlighted on this list has awesome, authentic Mexican food and is reliably fantastic.

We have highlighted what we love about each restaurant, what to order and even details on parking and takeout options.

There are so many great eateries in the area worth trying, so be sure to check out our list of over 20 awesome restaurants in Columbia. But if you’re specifically looking for Mexican in Columbia, read on!

Where To Get Mexican Food In Columbia

near Forest Acres

Tacos Nayarit started as a food truck and now they are in the process of opening additional locations in Cayce and Irmo. That should be enough to catch your attention! They truly have some of the best Mexican food in Columbia.

Their menu is pretty quick and easy to understand. They present it in steps: 1) choose your meal 2) choose your meat and 3) customize with toppings. They have quesadillas, nachos, burritos, burrito bowls, nachos tortas, chalupa, taco salads and their famous tacos. You can choose between corn, flour or hard tortillas for your tacos.

We absolutely love their Taco Birria, the taco salad, their nachos with steak and, well, everything. They truly have some of the best tacos in Columbia and are well worth a visit.

Their food is fresh and it without a doubt lives up to the hype. Also, expect a line! It moves fast and is just a testament to its greatness.


As the name suggests, you won’t find better authentic Mexican cuisine anywhere in Columbia than at Real Mexico.

Located on Bush River Road just off I-20, Real Mexico is a no-frills Mexican restaurant serving a full menu of Mexican fare. On their menu, you will not only find typical Mexican dishes like fajitas, burritos and quesadillas, but also entrees like molcajetes and beef birria.

We like to try different menu items each time, but we always start with guacamole, queso and their bean dip with chorizo. All are awesome and we can’t ever pick just one!

For entrees, we love the birria tacos, the fajita quesadilla and the carnitas. We can also recommend the mocajete (served in a volcanic stone bowl) for a fun entree.

Real Mexico has several margaritas to choose from as well as Mexican beer, domestic beer and a few draft options.

They have online ordering available for takeout and we love them so much that we even listed Real Mexico on our guide to the best takeout in Columbia. Speaking of, if you are feeding a group, check out the box meals on the menu.

One thing to note about Real Mexico is that their parking isn’t great. And their dining room isn’t huge so you’ll probably have to wait at peak times. The food is worth it, though!


Cantina 76 is a locally owned Mexican-inspired casual restaurant known for its tacos, margaritas and great atmosphere. With 14 tacos on the menu ranging from smoked pork and chicken teriyaki to fish and shrimp tacos, there is something for every taste preference.

And if tacos aren’t your thing, we can highly recommend their other entrees, especially their roasted chicken quesadilla.

Cantina 76 is also a great place to kick back and have a margarita whether you sit at their large bar or on their outdoor patio. It’s a perfect spot for both lunch and dinner!


Coa Agaveria is Columbia’s only upscale Mexican restaurant and it’s certainly not to be missed. Located on Lady Street in the Vista, Coa brings a gourmet twist to classic Mexican dishes. Even their wedge salad with grilled artisan romaine, heirloom tomato, chorizo and cotija is impressive. The carne brava with grilled cactus is another menu item worth mentioning.

Coa also has a great vegan Mexican menu. Apart from excellent food, Coa also has exquisite drinks. We love their scratch-made margaritas and other agave-based drinks. 

The interior is cozy and the perfect spot for a date night in Columbia. They have a tapas-style menu so it’s also a fun place for a group if you want to try several different dishes.

Coa is located just below the Aloft Columbia Downtown hotel, but it’s independently owned.


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near Cross Hill Market

If you are looking for awesome tacos in Columbia, head to Tacos El Puebla! It’s a hidden gem Mexican restaurant located near the Cross Hill Market shopping center.

Not only are their tacos delicious, but they also have tortas, chimichangas, quesadillas, gorditas and huaraches. Choose from beef, pork, chicken, chorizo, shredded beef, pork rinds, beef tongue or beef tripe. Quite the selection! Their menu is pretty cool because it’s divided by price– there’s a $5 section, a 3 for $9 section and $2 tacos and dobladitas y empanadas.

Prior to opening up their brick-and-mortar taco shop, Tacos El Puebla operated as a food truck. Be prepared for a tight parking lot, but it’s worth it! 


Forest Acres

If you’re in search for the best burritos in Columbia, be sure to check out Boca Grande Burritos. Boca Grande is conveniently located on Forest Drive across the street from Trader Joe’s. 

Here you’ll find a counter-service restaurant with a bright and colorful interior. It’s the perfect spot for lunch in Columbia. They have six signature burritos and six tacos to choose from or you can build your own burrito exactly how you like it.

Even though you probably won’t be hungry after your burrito, make sure you order some of their snacks on the side – chicharrones, Frito pie, street-style corn, and more. 


If you are looking for authentic Mexican food, don’t miss Taqueria Jalisco! It’s in West Columbia and is definitely worth the drive.

Though we love all of their fresh Mexican dishes, their fajitas are the star of the show. Specifically the Fajitas Jalisco with steak, chicken and shrimp.

Jalisco is tucked away in the Ashland Park Shopping Center on St. Andrews Road just off I-26. They have some outdoor seating 


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near Cross Hill Market

Coco’s & Beer is a great Mexican restaurant near Fort Jackson. It’s located just next to the Cross Hill Market (the Whole Foods shopping center.)

Their portions are huge which is always a plus in our book! And the atmosphere is festive with both indoor and outdoor seating available. We prefer outdoor dining there if the weather allows!

Not only is it a great place to dine in, but they have easy online ordering for Mexican takeout. Coco’s & Beer has a second location in Northeast Columbia on Sparkleberry Lane.


Cayce

A Mexican restaurant and grocery all in one! And boy, is it delicious. All of their dishes are prepared in the authentic Mexican style and everything is super fresh.

We recommend trying one of their delicious burritos. And if you are around on Tuesdays, head to La Estrella for their $1.50 Taco Tuesday special. While you’re there be sure to check out the grocery section – there are so many fun finds!

La Estrella is definitely considered a hidden gem Mexican restaurant. It’s actually out in Cayce but is only a 10-minute drive from downtown Columbia. It’s really close to the airport.


Primarily a takeout restaurant, Family Fresh Mex is a great spot for grab-and-go Mexican food in downtown Columbia. They have some of the best tacos in Columbia and even serve breakfast!

You’ll find their chalkboard menu at the counter displaying all their delicious hand-made tacos, burritos and other Mexican fare they have to offer. We love their quesadillas on their delicious corn tortillas!

If you are there for breakfast, try their tacos with eggs + chorizo, their huevo rancheros or their chilaquiles. They even have a breakfast quesadilla! It’s the perfect spot if you work downtown or are staying at one of Columbia’s downtown hotels.

Even though it’s located downtown on Gervais Street across from the SC State House, it’s somehow still a hidden gem. Family Fresh Mex is on ground floor of the new Moxy Marriot Hotel that is under construction.


Moctezuma’s Taqueria is a hole-in-the-wall authentic Mexican restaurant in Columbia. It’s located on Beltline near Midlands Tech and Devine Steet. It’s just down from Cross Hill Market (where they actually used to have a second location, but it closed in January 2023.)

They have a full menu with all of the delicious Mexican food you’d expect. Quesadillas, street tacos, enchiladas, burritos and a full margarita list. You’ll find everything from a skinny margarita to a chocolate margarita! And, of course, a house margarita. Their cheese steak burrito is a crowd favorite and don’t skip out on their queso.

They are located near Devine Street and Cross Hill Market. Moctezuma’s also has a food truck that makes appearances around town.


Northeast Columbia

Dinner from El Salto Mexican Cuisine in northeast Columbia, SC

El Salto is a classic Mexican restaurant in Northeast Columbia. It’s located just off Two Notch near the entrance to Sesquicentennial State Park.

They have all of the standard Mexican fare you know and love. You’ll get chips and salsa upon arriving and the menu is intense but full of delicious food. We love their fajitas and quesadilla Mexicanas! Their corn tortillas are made fresh and you can absolutely tell a difference.

El Salto also has a dedicated section to vegetarian entrees, pasta and a few kids’ meals. There’s something for everyone!


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We hope you enjoyed this list of our favorite Mexican restaurants in town. This one was especially fun to put together because each place is so different and all are really scattered around Columbia.

If you enjoyed this list, make sure to check out our other articles on where to eat in Columbia.


Disclaimer: Hours, pricing, menus, etc. may have changed since we last updated this post, so make sure to confirm all of this directly prior to visiting any business or attraction listed on our site. All opinions are our own. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.