We’ve got a challenge for you; make a call to the first American person in your phonebook and ask them where to find good Mexican food in London. Their answer will almost always be “you can’t”, and maybe a few years ago, we would have said they were right. However, just like Americans are guaranteed to mispronounce Leicester Square, London’s restaurant scene is guaranteed to change, and we’re happy to report that the capital’s Mexican restaurants have got a lot better.
While it’s true that London may not be blessed with the breadth of Mexican restaurants that our Stateside cousins enjoy, the city can still holds its own when it comes to the likes of nachos, tacos and quesadillas. In fact, the last few years have seen an explosion of fantastic Mexican restaurants open their doors on London’s streets, ranging from the taco munching and Tequila-slinging palaces of fun that you frequent on a night out, to more restrained and upmarket offerings showing that Mexican cuisine isn’t all about being casual.
As much as we love the diversity of London’s restaurant scene, there are some days when only a mighty fine burrito or a spot-on Margarita are enough to make us smile from ear to ear. Sure, a few of London’s Mexican restaurants might be a little heavy on the gimmicks, but if the food is good and the atmosphere sings, even a wonky sombrero and cactus print wallpaper can appeal.
With that in mind, we’ve selected London’s best Mexican restaurants for your perusal: perfect for celebrating Cinco de Mayo in May, Dias De Los Muertos (AKA the Day of the Dead) in November or any other excuse you may need for a taco, tortilla and guacamole fix. Check out our pick of must-try Mexican restaurants below, and if any take your fancy, click on the restaurant’s names to go through to their individual pages where you can book a table.
What: Elevating Mexican cooking to new levels is KOL’s head chef Santiago Lastra. Dining here isn’t a plateful of cheap and cheerful tacos, it’s an experience to share with loved ones, a place where you'll want to savour every bite. Tables are clustered around the open kitchen where you watch the brigade of chefs work tirelessly to turn out plates of things like rich DIY langoustine tacos, kohlrabi ceviche and lamb toastads. While eating here isn’t a bargain, we think it’s well worth the spend for a special occasion, with high end interiors and friendly service matching the level of the cookery from the kitchen.
Where: 9 Seymour Street, W1H 7BA
What: Found at the centre of Borough Market, this casual taco joint might be small in stature, but it certainly packs a punch when it comes to flavour. While of course the tacos are at the centre of the menu – and with fillings like pork cochinita, cauliflower al pastor and chicken asado it’s hard not to try one of each – there are also standout sides. Our favourites were the cheese-laden sweetcorn and the homemade guacamole and corn chips. Any three tacos at lunchtime are £9.50, while there’s an evening menu for a slightly more refined affair.
Where: The Borough Market Kitchen, Winchester Walk, Jubilee Place, SE1 9AG
Del 74, Dalston
What: Low-key taqueria Del 74 is a cheap and cheerful spot on Kingsland High Street turning out tacos filled with the likes of slow-cooked lamb, and veg in a smoky chipotle sauce. We’re fans of the weekend brunch (think steak and eggs or huevos rancheros), while the Happy Hour (5-7pm) when you can get tacos for just £2 is also not to be missed.
Where: 129 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB
DF Tacos, Shoreditch
What: Industrial-chic taco hub DF Tacos is plenty of fun. Not only can you enjoy a DIY taco sharing board when visiting in a group (three fillings of your choice and six tacos to share), but you can also knock back frozen Margaritas. The fun doesn’t stop at dessert either, when ice cream sandwiches such as the Strawberry Shorty are the order of the day.
Where: 21 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR
Café Pacifico, Covent Garden
What: Serving Londoners since the 1980s, Café Pacifico is something of a Tex-Mex institution, where everyone’s up for a good time. The restaurant is arguably best suited to nights out with mates, but there’s a children’s menu too if you’ve got the family in tow. As for the rest, you can feast on the likes of jalapeno poppers, nachos and stuffed burritos.
Where: 5 Langley Street, WC2H 9JA
Santo Remedio, London Bridge
What: Revived after the original Shoreditch site was closed due to rent increases, Santo Remedio 2.0 is a colourful two-floor space with an easy-going vibe. Our top picks from the menu include the chicken tacos that come with a kick courtesy of orange juice and pickled onions, while we challenge anyone to resist the churros, which can be liberally dipped in dulche de leche come dessert time.
Where: 152 Tooley Street, SE1 2TU
Breddos Tacos, Clerkenwell
What: Breddos Tacos may have started out life on the street food scene, but now it’s a bonafide Mexican destination. As the name suggests, it’s all about tacos here, with fillings including confit pork belly and fried chicken. For such a succinct menu, there’s also a rather impressive number of veggie options – think a butternut squash burrito and more.
Where: 82 Goswell Road, EC1V 7DB
Casa Pastor, King’s Cross
What: One of four openings from The Hart Brothers in trendy Coal Drops Yard, this lively spot serves up ceviches, quesadillas and tacos too, while a clutch of salsas which vary in heat level are all made in-house. Casa Pastor's varied menu even features oysters topped with a mezcal dressing, while the expansive outdoor terrace is the place to be during the summer season.
Where: Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4AB
La Bodega Negra, Soho
What: Famous La Bodega Negra is worth checking out just for the thrill of walking through the faux sex shop frontage. Once you’ve entered the low-lit subterranean dining room, you can grab a Margarita from the bar, before tucking into tacos filled with the likes of soft-shell crab and pork belly. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for famous faces, too.
Where: 9 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JF
What: Mestizo is among the smarter options on our list, and is unique in that it offers a blend of Spanish and Mexican cuisine (the restaurant is named after the mixed-race descendants of the conquistadores). The regular menu features all the classics as well as regional specialities, but we’re most impressed by the extensive vegan, nut-free, lactose-free and gluten-free menus.
Where: 103 Hampstead Road, NW1 3EL
Taqueria, Westbourne Park
What: Harking back to the bohemian Notting Hill of old, Taqueria is a fun and affordable spot for tacos and more. There are lively Latin tunes playing which help the atmosphere sing, while all tortillas are made on the premises and fillings use free-range meat. If you’ve saved room for dessert, we’d recommend the churros with cajeta (Mexican-style caramel sauce).
Where: 139-143 Westbourne Grove, W11 2RS
What: The jewel in the crown of MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers’ Wahaca chain is its Southbank location, which started life as a pop up (it’s been permanent since 2014). While this won’t be the best Mexican you’ve ever tried, there’s a fun make-do-and-mend feel, plus the unusual tacos fillings (steak and cheese, prawn cocktail) are also worth your time.
Where: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
Tortilleria El Pastór, Bermondsey
What: Tortilleria El Pastór, a sibling to the original El Pastor in Borough Market, is hidden under a railway arch and a little tricky to find. It’s worth the effort though to feast on the likes of pork shoulder and caramelised pineapple tacos while knocking back frozen Margaritas. It’s a perfect alternative for when you can’t face the overwhelming crowds at Borough.
Where: 58 Stanworth Street, SE1 3NY
Ella Canta, Mayfair
What: It’s easy to think of Mexican food as all street food and Tequila shots, but it has a smarter side, too. A prime example of this is Ella Canta, which serves the glamorous likes of black mole duck and guacamole topped with a gold-dusted grasshopper. There’s still an air of fun though, thanks to colourful interiors and waiters dolled up like Frida Kahlo.
Where: InterContinental Park Lane, 1 Hamilton Place, W1J 7QY
El Camion, Soho
What: Inspired by the Mexican region of Baja California (not to be confused with the US state), El Camion’s menu is a roll call of classic Mexican fare, which it serves nightly until 2.30am – perfect for post night out munchies. You can also take your party from the restaurant to basement cocktail bar The Pink Chihuahua, which boasts over 300 kinds of Tequila.
Where: 25-27 Brewer Street, W1F 0RR
What: Cutesy, vintage-style Corazón may be small in size, but its menu makes a big impact. From the regular menu, try the likes of beef short-rib and sea bream pibil, while the set lunch is a steal at two tacos, chips and guac for £10. There’s also weekend brunch, when we’d definitely recommend finishing up with the tres leches cake topped with marshmallow.
Where: 29 Poland Street, W1F 8QR
Leicester Square Kitchen, Leicester Square
What: Leicester Square Kitchen serves a mix of Mexican and Peruvian dishes, which means you can choose between the likes of tiger prawn tacos or robata-grilled smoked paprika ribs with lime. Black brick walls and caramel leather chairs add to the sense of sophistication, while you might even spy a celeb from the terrace, which overlooks movie premiere hotspot Leicester Square.
Where: 31-36 Leicester Square, WC2H 7LH
Temper City, Covent Garden and Soho
What: Although each of the Temper sites in the capital (City, Covent Garden, Soho) offer slightly different menus, all of them do a good line in tacos. Granted, this won’t be the most authentic Mexican-inspired food you’ve ever tried, but when it comes to the likes of tacos filled with cheeseburgers or Korean jackfruit, we find it hard to rustle up any complaints.
Where: 2 Angel Court, 30 Throgmorton Street, EC2R 7HJ; 5 Mercer Walk, Mercers Yard, WC2H 9FA; 25 Broadwick Street, W1F 0DF
MNKY HSE, Mayfair
What: We know what you’re thinking – a name lacking vowels, a bouncer on the door and interiors to court the Instagram crowd. Surely MNKY HSE is not worth the visit? If you do give it a chance though, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Although the restaurant is more broadly Latin American than just Mexican, we’re obsessed with the lamb shoulder tacos.
Where: 10 Dover Street, W1S 4LQ
What: Everybody knows that no one throws a fiesta quite like Mexicans, so it should be no surprise that Tonteria restaurant and nightclub is bags of fun. Choose your pick from the simple menu of four taco varieties, before watching fire-eaters perform and grabbing drinks from the Tequila Train, which delivers shots straight to your table.
Where: 7-12 Sloane Square, SW1W 8EG
If your search is a little more specific, check out our pick of the best tacos in London.