Cherokee Street is the city’s go-to for authentic Mexican eats.
Cherokee Street has grown into the Mexican food capital of St. Louis, featuring nine Mexican restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores within just a few blocks. Together, they make for a diverse and lively neighborhood and a sure-fire destination to satisfy your Mexican food cravings year-round. Look no further than this handy guide of where to go for which south-of-the-border delicacy—just in time for Cinco de Mayo.
El Chico Bakery
2634 Cherokee St.
Peruse the bakery’s offerings of Mexican delicacies like conchas,palmiers, pan dulce, tres leches cakes and fruit empanadas.Get a bag to go, but while you’re there, eat something fresh in the dining room with a cup of coffee. On weekends,try the house-made tamales.
Gardunos Mexican Foods
2737 Cherokee St.
You’ll find excellent tamales and enchiladas at Gardunos, but the chunky guacamole is award-winning and the Mojarra Dorada is not to be missed-consisting of a whole fish, lightly battered, fried and topped with onion, tomato and jalapeno. Ask for a tortilla, and build your own fish taco, if you like.
El Torito Supermercado
2753 Cherokee St.
Easily one of the best Mexican marketsin St. Louis, El Torito doubles as a restaurant. Stock up on essentials like nopal cactus, dried hibiscus blossoms and sheets of warm chicharrones (deepfried pork rinds). Then, have a seat in the Taqueria for homemade soup or tortas. Come by on the weekends for mole con guajolote (turkey legs with a smoky sauce, kissed with unsweetened chocolate).
Carniceria Latino Americana
2800 Cherokee St.
Carniceria Latino Americana offers great prices on staples and meats, plus patio dining, perfect to enjoy Mexican soccer on television while munching on carne asada tacos served with onion and cilantro. The green salsa and free chips go great with cold beer.
2801 Cherokee St.
La Vallesana boasts authentic Mexican cuisine made with 100-percent fresh ingredients. Tacos, tortas, quesadillas, burritos, fajitas, helados and nieves are stuffed with chorizo, beef cheek, beef tongue, shredded pork and more. Enjoy the food with watermelon agua frescas and paletas (popsicles).
Taqueria el Bronco
2817 Cherokee St.
With arguably the best tortillas in town, Taqueria el Bronco stars tacos al-pastor, but the cabeza filling runs a close second. Chicken or pork burritos and enchiladas come with red or green sauce, and Mexican Coke—made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup—is sweeter than the “real” thing.
2818 Cherokee St.
The newest addition to Cherokee’s Mexican row, Siete Luminarias serves traditional Mexican fare with a side of kitsch. Chips and salsa arrive in a plastic donkey cart, and besides the expected burritos, gorditas, tortas, enchiladas, tamales and eight kinds of street tacos, you’ll also find tlacoyos (fried stuffed masa cake) and pambazo (Mexican bread with guajillo pepper sauce, stuffed with meat and vegetables).
3124 Cherokee St.
The underground night club El Lenador is the odd ball on the block that’s worth a try. Patrons enjoy wings, burgers and brats alongside nachos, quesadillas and homemade burritos to the sounds of live music.
3147 Cherokee St.
Tower Tacos makes its own tortillas and fills them with steak, chorizo, fish, shrimp and pork. The salsa is among the best in town, and the margaritas are worth boasting about. For those up to a challenge, try the obscenely huge Burrito California.
Photo credit: Jules Brown