Just like American food is more than hamburgers and hot dogs, Mexican food is more than just tacos and burritos. Gilroy, California has over 25 authentic Mexican restaurants along the Gilroy Taco Trail that offer up some of Mexico’s best dishes—right here in Gilroy.
You’ll find that each Mexican restaurant in Gilroy has its own cooks, methods, regional flavors, and special touches the chefs add to their food. Each one is worth a visit. Here we’re highlighting three different restaurants that offer some of their own specialty items, flavors, and flair!
1: Taqueria Cancun
Taqueria Cancun is a family-owned Mexican restaurant. Locals appreciate their fresh, delicious food, friendly staff, and good customer service—and you’ll enjoy it, too! They’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and feature a Happy Hour from 3-6 p.m.
Cancun was first built as a tourist resort area in the 1970s on the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula along the Caribbean Sea. The area was formerly inhabited by the Mayan civilization, and there are a few remaining ruins in the area today. Taqueria Cancun’s colorful wall murals depict beach and tropical jungle pictures that are reminiscent scenes from Cancun.
Below are some of Taqueria Cancun’s tasty dishes that you’ll want to try for yourself!
Caldo de Res: This is a vegetable beef soup made with beef broth, beef, and vegetables, such as corn, cabbage, zucchini, carrots, and potatoes. It is seasoned to make it a hearty, delicious meal.
Quesabirrias: These are fried tortillas filled with birria, a flavorful, slow-cooked beef stew meat and cheese. The tortillas are also dipped in the birria, and the quesabirrias are often served with the birria to dip them in.
Two Chile Relleno Plate: Fried poblano peppers stuffed with cheese that are served in a zesty sauce with rice, beans, and other sides.
Molcajete: This word means” mortar and pestle” in Spanish (and “seasoning” and “bowl” in Aztec). Originally, molcajetes were made from volcanic rock. Taqueria Cancun’s version is served with chicken, asada, chorizo, shrimp, queso fresco, cactus, beans, and salsa verde and comes with a side of rice, beans, and tortillas.
Taqueria Cancun staff
890 Renz Ln. Suite 105 (near Best Buy)
FB: Taqueria Cancun
2: Carnitas Michoacan
Carnitas Michoacan is a family-owned restaurant located in downtown Gilroy that is well-known in town and beyond for delicious carnitas—slowly-braised or simmered pork that results in juicy, tender meat that is typically shredded and served on its own or in tacos, burritos, tamales, and tortas.
The Michoacan state that the restaurant is named after is in western Mexico along the Pacific Ocean; this is the place of origin for savory carnitas. Michoacan is also referred to as “the soul of Mexico.” They grow 92% of Mexico’s avocados and are the winter home for Monarch butterflies. The capital city of Morelia is a UNESCO World Heritage site due its colorful historic colonial buildings and its aqueduct.
For a little bit of Michoacan in downtown Gilroy, try Carnitas Michoacan! See some of their most popular offerings below!
Carnitas-slowly-cooked, shredded pork
Chili Verde-a Mexican stew made of pork cooked in a sauce made of green chili peppers and tomatillos
Chili Relleno– fried poblano peppers stuffed with cheese
Carnitas Michoacan Staff
(closed Mon & Tues)
7484 Monterey St.
FB: Carnitas Michoacan
3: Taqueria & Mariscos Chapala
Gilroy has another authentic Mexican restaurant, Taqueria & Mariscos Chapala, which has two locations–one on each side of town. These restaurants feature many seafood options, along with other favorites. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at their locations.
The city of Chapala, which the restaurant is named for, is in the central region of the state of Jalisco. This area became a city in 1864 and is well-known for mariachi music (Jalisco is the home of mariachi music) and tequila. Mexico’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Chapala, is also located there, and many visitors from around the world enjoy vacationing nearby. American author Tennessee Williams wrote the famous play A Streetcar Named Desire while living in Chapala.
Enjoy a variety of seafood and other delicious dishes at Taqueria & Mariscos Chapala in Gilroy!
Empanadas de Camaron (shrimp empanadas)
Mariscada (seafood platter)
Taqueria & Mariscos Chapala locations:
303 First St.
340 E Tenth St.
FB: Chapala Taqueria y Mariscos
Hopefully these three authentic Mexican restaurants will get you started on your way to trying all the ones featured on the Gilroy Taco Trail. You’ll find something special at each one, and you’ll want to come back for more! You can even make a goal of eating at all the Mexican restaurants on the Trail in one day as one brave couple did while visiting our “community with a spice for life.”
These delicious meals are also the perfect way to refuel after a long, hard day hiking or biking on the trails. Gilroy has some wonderful options for outdoor recreation, such as the scenic trails of Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch County Park or the rugged terrain of Henry W. Coe State Park. Plan your own outdoor adventure, and then head to one of these great Mexican restaurants to replenish your appetite and your energy!
With so many great food options to explore in Gilroy, along with many other things to do, be sure to book a comfortable hotel room so you can rest and recover from your fantastic foodie adventures.
For more help in planning your visit to Gilroy, check out our Visit Gilroy page or stop in at the California Welcome Center Gilroy at 8155-6 Arroyo Circle, Gilroy. We’re located in the Gilroy Premium Outlets in Building A, near Forever 21.