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El Cartel

  • Restaurants
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

It’s small, it feels cramped when busy, there’s a no-bookings policy and a limited menu. That said, the freshness and flavour of the tacos and other dishes here make El Cartel far and away the best Mexican in the city.

The venue opened in 2014 in premises once occupied by another Mexican restaurant, so it took a while for the public to wake up and smell the mole. The menu is simple: seven or eight varieties of taco (you get two per order) and a similar number of antojitos (‘little cravings’ or street snacks). These are all great for sharing, although, if you’re flying solo, one item from each side of the menu makes for a decent lunch.

Taco fillings are unfailingly inventive: roasted pork belly with pineapple, white onion and coriander for example; or roast pumpkin, kale, courgette, goat milk cheese and red mole. On the antojitos side, you might try simple creamed corn with spiced cheese, pork ribs, chicken wings or guacamole except that latter favourite appears here with sheep milk cheese, pomegranate and spring onion.

And the no-bookings problem? Staff have been known to direct diners to the Bon Vivant bar across the street, then retrieve them when a table’s ready.

Written by
Keith Davidson


64 Thistle Street
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