21 August 2014

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London’s best Mexican restaurants and bars


Casa Negra - Casa_Negra_2013_-_VK5M8062_3.jpgTake a trip down Mexico way with Square Meal’s guide to the best Mexican restaurants and bars offering authentic, flavour-packed Mexican food to set you up for feisty, Tequila-fuelled evenings.

Casa Morita, Brixton

Chummy, cheerful and cheap, with fast and friendly service, this casual Brixton Market taqueria serves tacos, tortillas, tostadas and quesadillas in abundance – plus a popular brunch of huevos rancheros. Relive your gap year as you drink BYO booze and the house hibiscus water; as the name Casa Morita suggests, you do feel like you’re a guest in somebody’s house.

Casa Negra, Shoreditch (pictured, top right)

Restaurateur Will Ricker had a hit on his hands with Soho’s La Bodega Negra (below), and this Shoreditch sibling fizzes with just as much funk. The laid-back, beach-bar-style dining room’s wide-ranging menu mixes sticky pork tacos, spicy fried chicken and the like with a Tequila-laden cocktail list, while staff are prompt and eager to please.

La Bodega Negra - La_Bodega_Negra_2012_-_BN016.jpgLa Bodega Negra, Soho (pictured, left)

Will Ricker’s flagship Mexican is worth checking into just for the thrill of walking directly through the doors of what appears to be a Soho sex shop. Make it past the bouncer and you'll find a subterranean dining room with flickering lamps, peeling plaster and wine-barrel-filled alcoves – plus a Tequila bar doling out margaritas of all flavours. Keep your eyes peeled for celebs as you soak up the cool vibe.

Lupita, Covent Garden

If you’re after the authentic taste of Mexico, this racy Latin hangout, with its regional specialities such as quesadillas stuffed with chorizo and courgette flowers, or chipotle-doused shrimp tacos, is for you. The drinks list also stays true to its Mexican roots with a fine selection of Tequilas, native wines, beers and cinnamon-spiced horchata.

Mestizo_1_._bar_people1_-_2011.jpgMestizo, Euston (pictured, right)

Smarter than most Mexican joints in the capital, Mestizo offers a fusion of Mexican and Spanish street-food flavours, from deep-fried tortillas stuffed with spicy fish to regional specialities such as mole huasteco ( grilled chicken from the Mexican state of Hidalgo served with spicy chocolate sauce) – all washed down with lashings of Tequila. It’s also the place to party come Day of the Dead.

Santo, Ladbroke Grove

This colourful eatery attracts everyone from families filling up on first-rate Mexican food to young sophisticates drawn to Santo’s expertly mixed margaritas and soulful tunes. Mix and match tacos and roll-your-own tortillas, followed by tender, subtly spiced ox cheeks – and look out for DJs on Friday and Saturday nights.

Taqueria, Westbourne Park

Taqueria’s diner-style surrounds might not bring to mind the fast-food joints of Mexico and southern California, but the tostados, tacos and quesadillas are the real deal. Corn tortillas are made on the premises and stuffed with free-range meats and carefully sourced spices, while Tequilas and drinks such as imported beers and horchata spirit quench the thirst.

Tonteria, Chelsea

This bijou basement pleasure pit is pure Tijuana ghetto-chic and draws a fun-seeking crowd for early-evening cocktails and tapas that somehow always turn into an all-night affair. The drinks are the real draw here, with torches filled with lit Tequila, heady punchbowls and a miniature train that dispenses shots keeping the party firing on all cylinders.

mezcaleria qui qui ri qui 2013 - Qui-Qui-Ri-Qui.jpg

Wahaca Southbank

It may be a chain, but there’s no denying that Thomasina Miers’ spirited cantinas shake up a mean margarita, know how to stuff a burrito, and that she and the team still have enough soul and passion in their veins to innovate. Temporary site Wahaca Southbank is a case in point, with a hip make-do-and-mend feel, a buzzy vibe and great views of the Thames. Also look out for new Wahaca spin-off, Burrito Mama, in the City’s One New Change building.

Also look out for… Peyote, Mayfair

Slick restaurateur Arjun Waney is transforming the site of his former Mediterranean Mayfair restaurant Aurelia into a high-end Mexican which will open on 11 November. The two-floor venue will emulate the lively but luxurious ambience of its Peruvian sibling Coya, and features a taco bar among other draws.

This feature was published on 1 November 2013.

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