There are certain Mexican restaurants in Atlanta that have a great vibe plus stellar food, and Taqueria Del Sol is definitely one of them. As summer heats up, who doesn’t like Mexican food on a patio with a tasty cold beverage?

As an Atlanta native, I remember when the only Mexican food you could get was at El Chico and Chi Chi’s. We didn’t even know what a Taqueria was and now thankfully upscale Latin food is everywhere.

Across the table: Best tacos under the sun

Don’t be put off by the long line you are likely to encounter at any of Taqueria Del Sol’s locations. It moves quickly, and you will be rewarded with some of the best Mexican/South Texas/Taqueria fare in Atlanta because it’s chef-driven by the very talented Eddie Hernandez, who creates creative from-scratch cuisine.

Taqueria Del Sol

1200-B Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, GA

359 West Ponce De Leon Ave.
Decatur, GA

Cheshire Bridge
2165 Cheshire Bridge Road
Atlanta, GA

334 Prince Ave.
Athens, GA

Taqueria Del Sol has one of those menus where you can’t go wrong. This is not a Mexican place where you order the number 21. The menu is inexpensive ala carte so you can have as much or as little as you want. I love the $3.20 enchiladas with tender shredded beef brisket, topped with an addictive deep red beef chili sauce, which is paired with a roasted chicken enchilada topped with green chili or a melted gooey cheese version with a light cream sauce.

The chain also has artisanal $2.19 street tacos like the crispy fried chicken taco paired with cool jalapeño lime mayo, and the Memphis taco with smoked pork, crunchy jalapeño slaw and a tequila barbecue sauce. There are also daily specials and vegetarian options.

Whatever you order, start with chunky fresh guacamole or creamy rich shrimp and corn chowder and their special West Side margarita. You know how some margaritas taste like sour dishwater that burns your stomach? Available by the glass or pitcher the TDS margarita is smooth and strong — like I like my men — because our people hate weak margaritas.

There is also an enormous tequila selection if you feel crazy and want to do shots, and we all know how those nights end. They also have a good beer selection and a small but effective wine selection. Alcohol prices are inexpensive, and if you don’t drink you can have an amazing meal for under $10.

The people-watching scene in Decatur is, of course, more family oriented during the week, but features plenty of spicy ladies on the weekend. The Westside location has a postcard view of the city and has a mostly straight crowd, especially at lunch. Here, you can see hot guys in designer suits relaxing with a delicious meal.

The Cheshire Bridge location is likely the most popular with the gay set, and particularly popular for those seeking a light meal before hitting the clubs. I was on the patio at the Cheshire Bridge TDS on a recent weekend and the vibe was kinetic, but not rowdy.

It was mainly gay men, but also peppered with some straights and lesbians. But really, no one cared who was who. It’s amazing when a group of strangers laugh and connect with each other after having superior food on a beautiful day.

So the food is terrific, on a nice day or night the patio scene is happening, plus you just might meet Mr. or Ms. Right. What are you waiting for? Vamanos!

Other Latin restaurants with hot summer patio scenes

Las Margaritas (Cheshire Bridge): The gayest patio in the city; food is good but the people watching is better.
Pure (Inman Park): Mixed scene; amazing crab fritters, chipotle mussels and Baja fish tacos
Frogs Cantina (Midtown): Very gay, friendly cute staff, excellent inexpensive Tex-Mex
Agave (Grant Park): Mixed scene, small patio, the absolute best Southwestern in the city, great first date place
Raging Burrito (Decatur): Eclectic scene, huge inexpensive burritos and Tex-Mex