Down-home or elegant 

Best Mexican (Washtenaw County)
Tio’s / Prickly Pear

Let’s be honest. Michigan is not usually known for its standout Mexican food. A run for the border here has more to do with Molson Canadian than it does with Corona. Still, there are a few spots that offer truly exceptional food. Our readers have chosen both Tio’s and the Prickly Pear as standouts, for distinctly different reasons.

Tio’s is a Mexican joint of the hole-in-the-wall variety: tasty, made to order, and to-the-point. It’s a student and late-night favorite, whether dining in the small space or ordering by phone. Delivery is a big appeal here, with speedy, cheap tacos, enchiladas, burritos and milk shakes — which don’t seem that Mexican, but are downright delicious — brought to your door day or night (open until 1 a.m. Monday-Saturday, and until midnight Sunday).

A new location on Washtenaw Avenue has been added to cater to Eastern Michigan University students and the Ypsilanti area. This new version of Tio’s has a large dining room, with waitstaff instead of the order-at-the-counter routine of the downtown location.

For the crowd with a little more cash for una cena, there’s the Prickly Pear, a cozy spot with a more cultivated charm. This menu extends well beyond simple taco standbys. Appetizer choices include heaping salads and appetizers such as Navajo fry bread. Vegetarians will be pleased to note meatless options that do not rely solely on beans.

Specials often include wild game and such distinct meats as buffalo. Seafood lovers and those who appreciate a good tequila should also find what they’re looking for here. The key idea at the Prickly Pear is freshness, and everything from guacamole to sauces to desserts is made on-site. It shows, and makes the Prickly Pear a prime choice for those craving hearty portions of good food, Mexican or otherwise.

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