Best Mexican

Sometimes, only a mighty fine burrito or a spot-on Margarita will do – so you’ll be pleased to hear there are plenty of great Mexican restaurants in London. A few of them might be heavy on the gimmicks, but if the food is good and the atmosphere sings, even a wonky sombrero and cactus wallpaper can appeal. With that in mind, we’ve selected London’s best Mexican restaurants: perfect for celebrating Cinco de Mayo in May, Mexican Day of the Dead in November or any other excuse you may need for a taco, tortilla and guacamole fix. Read on to discover where to find the best Mexican restaurants in London. 

Updated on 27 November 2018

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DF/Mexico Shoreditch

DF/Mexico Shoreditch

21 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR

For their latest venture, Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby (of Wahaca fame) have created an ‘experimental residency’ within the old Truman Brewery on Hanbury Street. Named after Distrito Federal (aka Mexico City), DF Mexico promises ‘a crash course in modern Mexico’ with foodie influences from north of the border. Expect a mash-up of culinary themes and ideas with a strong US flavour – from NYC tortas with smashed avocado and cucumber pickle or four-hour slow-roasted ‘carne con chile’ to panko-crumbed cod tacos. Also check out the ‘bad boy’ burritos, DIY deli boards and grills such as marinated chicken with habanero and pumpkin seed mayo or chilli-rubbed steaks with chipotle and hibiscus salsa. Meanwhile, frozen margaritas, Brixton-brewed Lupolo beer, bottomless agua frescas (‘juicy waters’) and soft-serve ice creams should be just the ticket for those long hot summer nights.

£30 - £49
Mexican
Casa Pastor

Casa Pastor

Coal Drops Yard, London, N1C 4AB

The atmosphere of creativity at Coal Drops Yard makes it the perfect fit for the high-energy buzz of the Hart brothers, who have opened three sites here, including wine bar The Drop and a branch of Barrafina.

Much larger than previous incarnations in London Bridge, this Pastor is split between a partially covered outdoor dining area (complete with a central grill) and a tightly packed indoors which boasts a bar and an imposing tree hung with lights. It’s also the first to serve breakfast, including the likes of huevos rancheros.

On our evening visit, we kicked off proceedings with a novel avocado and passionfruit Margarita, which was silky smooth and pepped up with a chilli rim. Food begins with tostadas: ‘apache’ is a Mexican take on steak tartare using flank, while a ‘cochinita’ sees shreds of juicy slow-roasted pork rubbed with an addictive mix of orange, garlic and red onion.

Tacos (two per portion) include the signature Al Pastor, which is a triumphant pairing of pork shoulder, marinated for 24 hours with sticky caramelised pineapple and finished off with a smear of guacamole. Surprisingly, star billing goes to the veggie option: oily, plump mushrooms paired with caramelised onion and wrapped in a crisp sheet of fried queso Oaxaca cheese. From the sides, a bowl of refried beans resembles a chocolate mousse, with a velvety texture to match, while crunchy toasted corn is topped with a thick dollop of cotija cheese.

Dessert servings are miniscule, but if you’ve got a sweet tooth, go for the chocolate pot, which is served in a glass teacup and avoids being forgettable via a spiking of cinnamon. Lots of fun and fairly priced, this Pastor is a welcome addition to the brothers’ ever-expanding brand.

Featured image credit: Sam Smith

£30 - £49
Mexican
La Bodega Negra

La Bodega Negra

9 Old Compton Street, London, London, W1D 5JF

We’re going to call it: this is surely London’s only Mexican restaurant hidden behind the facade of a sex shop. Such exterior bawdiness is increasingly hard to come by in Soho, although Bodega Negra’s Stygian urban-chic interior and “great service” have much in common with current restaurant trends. The kitchen’s proclivity for supreme tacos has never been hotter, with fillings including soft-shell crab accompanied by a slathering of smoky chipotle crema, while tostadas feature a winning combo of Serrano ham and tuna. We suggest ordering a selection, plus salad or a piquant plate of ceviche – although those with bigger appetites should look to wood-grilled pork belly with mezcal and salsa or a whole sea bream, tender from the fire. Bodega’s party vibes and low-lit interior aren’t for everyone, but if Tequilas galore and 50ml shots of mezcal sound like a good time, this basement den from funky restaurateur Will Ricker (E&O et al) is for you.

£30 - £49
Mexican
Santo Remedio Cantina & Comedor

Santo Remedio Cantina & Comedor

152 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2TU

Santo Remedio caused a stir in Shoreditch in 2016 before rent increases forced it to close soon after opening. But it was around for long enough to develop an ardent fanbase who have helped crowdfund this new two-floor site near London Bridge. It’s an easy-going, high-energy kind of place, with bare tables and blue tiles creating the sort of clattery acoustics that are perfect for dates or a catch-up with a mate, with half of the 90 covers for walk-ins and the other half available to book.

All of the three tacos we tried (chicken, pork confit, soft-shell crab) were good, but the chicken had the edge for the sweet-and-sour kick of orange juice and pickled onions; we also loved the heat and crunch of the soft-shell crab. Slow-cooked beef rib was more DIY, though no great hardship when the meat slides off the bone and there’s thick molé to spread on the taco like chocolate Marmite. Non-taco dishes include cactus coleslaw, corn on the cob slathered with mayonnaise and Pecorino, chicharrón – light curls of pork scratching to dip into Mexico’s national sauce of Valentina, a sort of spicy ketchup – and churros to dip into a sugar bomb of dulce de leche.

To drink, there are half a dozen Mexican wines, a couple of beers and a house Margarita served on the rocks with a fiery rim of Tajin chilli powder. With high-end Ella Canta recently opened in the InterContinental, the vibrant immediacy of fresh Mexican cooking is finally getting the attention it deserves.  

Under £30
Mexican
El Pastór

El Pastór

7a Stoney Street, London, SE1 9AA

This cheap and cheerful taquería has a strong pedigree: it’s the latest venture from the brains behind Barrafina and Quo Vadis, the Hart brothers. Sam Hart lived in Mexico for five years and his passion shows in this buzzing Borough Market railway arch, from tacos made from scratch on the premises, to the specificity of the cuisine: the restaurant is named after the kebab-style grill employed for its Al Pastór pork tacos, borne out of Lebanese immigration to Mexico. Using marinated pork shoulder paired with caramelised pineapple and guacamole, these tacos are fine, but we think star billing should’ve gone to the short rib. Served DIY-style with enough tacos and fillings for two, the rib meat flops juicily off the bone, rubbed and sprinkled with a highly addictive, sweet-and-salty seasoning combining coriander and celery seeds, muscovado sugar and chipotle. With starters including ceviches and tuna tartare, a list of quesadillas and a must-order, cheese-and-chorizo-slathered corn on the cob on the side, Mexican fans will be fully satisfied. Worthwhile desserts include a coconut praline pie coated in chilli chocolate, while the drinks list is a Tequila-jammed as you might hope. Don’t expect a glistening Barrafina-does-Mexican, but do expect a lively, polished and fun meal supported by well-drilled staff and fair prices.

£30 - £49
Mexican
Ella Canta

Ella Canta

InterContinental Park Lane, 1 Hamilton Place, Green Park, London, W1J 7QY

Hotel restaurants in affluent areas of London are hardly known for their vibrancy, but famed Mexican chef Martha Ortiz rips up the rulebook with her brand of authentic yet cliché-busting cuisine. Guests are welcomed into a colourful and quirky dining room inspired by native artist Frida Kahlo (waitresses don her hairstyle and her face even appears on the lamps in the loos). Despite the offbeat surrounds, the menu (split into theatrical ‘acts’) isn’t about to be overshadowed. We’d recommend sharing a handful of starters, such as über-fresh guacamole topped with chunks of ricotta and bursts of pomegranate, served alongside a crunchy gold-embossed grasshopper; otherwise, the tangy salmon tostadas and the chunks of smoky octopus, rubbed in chilli sauce and topped with crisp burnt onion both get our vote. For the ‘main act’, supremely tender duck, smothered in bittersweet black mole and served on red rice is a comforting delight, while dessert (‘the final curtain’) features classics such as warm cinnamon-dusted churros accompanied by chocolate and caramel sauces for dipping. Connoisseurs of mezcal and Tequila won’t want to miss the glamorous standalone bar, which majors in rare styles and boasts a small-plates menu including deliciously moreish chocolate and chilli popcorn. Ortiz’s concept can become a little laboured through gimmicky props and over-attentive staff, but if you’re willing to buy into it, Ella Canta is quite the fiesta.

£50 - £79
Mexican
Breddos Tacos Clerkenwell

Breddos Tacos Clerkenwell

82 Goswell Road, London, EC1V 7DB

Taco-loving Breddos has found a permanent home in Clerkenwell after years on the street food scene. The buzzy, intimate space has a corner bar serving cocktails, British craft beers and wines, which keeps things lively. An all-day menu focuses on Mexican-American cuisine; on our evening visit, we started out with a snack of tortilla chips and fiery pickled Habanero dip. Spicy was the theme of the evening, with almost every dish flaming the taste buds. For the main event, we went for three different tacos on the advice of our chatty waitress; kung pao pork belly was chunky and tender, and flaming hot and crispy masa fried chicken impressed, while on the veggie end, smoked sweet potato was laced with recado rojo spices. The daily-changing menu can lead to some surprises: sorbet was the only one dessert on our visit and tacos come in servings of one rather than two, which makes fair sharing tricky. Nevertheless, impressive flavours make it worth a visit for taco trustees. Decent prices too.

Under £30
North American
Mexican
Wahaca Chandos Place

Wahaca Chandos Place

66 Chandos Place, London, WC2N 4HG

Ex-MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers now oversees branches of her popular canteen-style eatery across the capital and beyond, luring good-timers and young families with its mix of colourful, fashion-conscious surrounds and ‘flavoursome’ Mexican cooking. Vibrantly spiced street food is the deal, which means tacos filled with grilled steak or marinated, slow-cooked pork pibil, crisp tostadas with ceviche or refried beans, taquitos, quesadillas and specials such as the queso fundido – Mexico’s answer to fondue. Salads, grills and burritos bulk out the menu, while a heart-stopping pudding selection includes churros y chocolate and dulce de leche ice cream. Wahaca’s eco-credentials bear scrutiny, and the upbeat young vibe is fuelled by copious Tequila cocktails – even if that true Mexican zing is sometimes missing from the plates. Note: no bookings, but you can always sip a margarita while you wait.

Under £30
Mexican
Taqueria

Taqueria

139-143 Westbourne Grove, Kensington, London, W11 2RS

With its lively Latin beats, bare floors and portraits of revolutionary hero Zapata on the walls, this cheerful, scruffy and cheap little dive captures the old boho buzz of Notting Hill. Messy but delicious Mexican food is the order of the day, so get your fingers around succulent palm-sized tacos – perhaps stuffed with shredded slow-cooked pork, pickled jalapeño, green pepper and citrus. There are also crispy tostadas topped with ceviche, as well as home-cured chorizo, chicken marinated in beer, and even smoked cod with guacamole, roast corn and chipotle – all backed by essential sides such as refried black beans. Be sure to save room for some deep-fried churros or a rich pudding with cajeta (the Mexican version of dulce de leche). Drink beer and Tequila if you’re brave, ‘aquas frescas’ (flavoured water) if you’re not.

£30 - £49
South American
Corazón

Corazón

29 Poland Street, Soho, London, W1F 8QR

This taqueria delivers Mexican food wrapped in a welcoming setting, with just a hint of vintage Mexicana. The mint-green-and-cream room is sparingly adorned, leaving simple globe lights and spinning ceiling fans to conjure an airy feel. Its bar and dining counter is good for a bite and a cocktail (there’s a range of Margaritas), while larger tables enable taco-sharing feasts. Expect eight taco varieties to choose from, plenty of botanas (snacks) such as spiced pumpkin seed with jicama. Share a selection of tacos and platos mayores (big plates) to get the most out of the menu, with our highlights being lamb shoulder tacos packed with moist meat, as well as the esquites. This hopelessly moreish dish is a hot pan of crunchy, charred sweetcorn amid melting guajillo chilli mayonnaise and cheese. Tres leches sundae (marshmallow-topped milk sponge in a pool of condensed milk) enhances the novelty factor and confirms Corazon as a likeable diner with a friendly, slightly rock n’ roll vibe.

£30 - £49
Mexican
Tortilleria El Pastor

Tortilleria El Pastor

58 Stanworth Street, London, SE1 3NY

A sequel to the Hart Brothers’ El Pastór, this tortilla-factory-cum-taco-bar offers a near-identical Mexican menu with the added novelty of own-made tortillas. It’s not easy to find, mind, tucked under a railway arch and backing on to a housing estate, and the lack of passing trade probably explains why the place wasn’t very busy on our visit.

Industrial-chic fixtures, arty posters and room for only a handful of covers help make this a cool space, and the menu is great too, majoring in flavourful, moreish tacos. We’d recommend trying three to four of these each, with solid options including the classic Al Pastór (blackened, intensely meaty pork shoulder given an explosion of freshness from caramelised pineapple and guacamole) and a fiery vegetarian version where spice-laden mushrooms are mixed with caramelised onion, stringy Oaxaca cheese and coriander.

Drinks of frozen Margaritas and Mexican beers add to the fun, while of the two desserts (one being El Pastór’s cakey take on a Bounty chocolate bar), the rich chocolate mousse was our favourite, its sour-cream topping creating a winning flavour balance. If you’re looking to enjoy all that El Pastór has to offer in a more intimate setting, Tortilleria is worth the search.

Under £30
Mexican
Lupita West

Lupita West

7 Kensington High Street, London, W8 5NP

When bowls of guacamole are prepared right in front of your eyes, you know you’re in the right place. Lupita is a world away from dodgy Tex-Mex fare and, while the large menu takes some taming, being spoilt for choice in this place is no bad thing. Our recommendation would be to pick one dish from each section if you’re with friends: quesadillas filled with chicken and smoky chipotle chilli, lime-marinated yellowfin tuna tacos, tomato broth topped with tortillas and hearty pulled-pork burritos, for example. Thirsty punters have just as much choice: Margaritas, mezcals, Tequila, beers, pitchers of sangria, and even some native Mexican wines. Also save room for tempting churros with chocolate sauce.

£30 - £49
Mexican
Cafe Pacifico

Cafe Pacifico

5 Langley Street, London, WC2H 9JA

Open since the early 80s, this down-&-dirty diner with its whirring ceiling fans, scuffed terracota-tiled floor & vintage posters is something of a Tex-Mex institution in Covent Garden. Join an up-for-it crowd to feast on nachos, sizzling fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos & burritos: all decent renditions, pepped up with punchy sauces such as tequila & pineapple salsa. A few exotic combos – duck, scallop & tamarind fajitas, say – add to the appeal, as do calorie-laden puds such as the infamous Mexican deep-fried ice cream. Service is efficient & prices are easy – especially the bargain lunch & kids’ menus. Imported beers & wines from South America & Spain add an authentic touch, although they play second fiddle to the cracking line-up of Tequilas, mezcals & piscos behind the bar.

£30 - £49
Mexican
£30 - £49
Mestizo

Mestizo

103 Hampstead Road, London, NW1 3EL

Smarter than most Mexican joints in the capital, Mestizo is trying to do something a bit different. Taking its name from the mixed-race descendants of the conquistadores, it offers a fusion of Mexican & Spanish flavours: begin by ordering some street food for the table (beef empanadas or deep-fried tortillas stuffed with spicy fish), before investigating regional specialities such as mole huasteco (a grilled chicken dish from Hidalgo served with a spicy chocolate sauce) or piña rellena de mariscos (a scooped-out pineapple filled with seafood & a spicy coriander dressing). There’s also a huge selection of tortillas, burritos & chimichangas at very friendly prices. Ignore the traffic roaring by on busy Hampstead Road & surrender to the brain-teasing temptations of myriad Tequilas & Tequila-based cocktails.

£30 - £49
Mexican