London's experienced something of a burrito boom in recent years, with street food trucks, pop-ups and good old-fashioned bricks 'n' mortar operations selling the bulging Mexican wraps everywhere you look. Here are Time Out's top ten burritos – if there are better to be had in London, we'll eat our sombrero.
Looking for less portable Mexican fare? Check out our guide to London's best Mexican restaurants.
The best burritos in London
At last, proof that pork doesn’t have to be pulled. Bucking the trend, the piggy option in this burrito comes chopped into rustic chunks, with deliciously charred fatty edges. Not wanting to miss out, tomatoes are equally rough-cut. As for the salsa, he’s a mild-mannered Mexican. For a more fiery hombre, add the Chilango hot sauce.
A David among local Goliaths – if it weren’t for the emphasis on traditional dishes, you’d never guess this plain little burrito joint was owned by the crew behind smart, colourful Mexican restaurant Mestizo. Our burrito teamed tender, tangy cochinita (slow-cooked pork) with a pico de gallo (a tomato, onion and coriander salsa) as fresh as a slap in the face.
When the queue for a burrito stall looks like passport control at Heathrow, you know there’s got to be something good waiting. Happily, the line moves quickly (40 people in ten minutes), thanks to an ultra-efficient production line of burrito-builders. We like the fajita option here, substituting beans for the colour and crunch of grilled onions and mixed peppers: a terrific foil to the chunks of juicy shredded pork.
It’s right up there with sightings of UFOs, Bigfoot and Elvis: a Friday lunchtime burrito spot that doesn’t have a queue. Not that the food isn’t good – far from it – but the slick takeaway counter inside the Canary Wharf and Charlotte Street branches of Wahaca allows for a swift getaway. Our wraps featured pork with warm, mellow spicing and quality ingredients such as thick sour cream.
Fresh, funky and friendly, branches of this mini-chain are a good shout if you’re after a proper pitstop rather than racing straight back to the office. The wraps can take a little longer to make, but are worth the wait: ours featured creamy refried beans, moist, well-marinated pork and a zingy pico de gallo.
It might share its name with a Lynyrd Skynyrd hit, but it’s about the burritos not the beats at this Goodge Place snack stop, which gets the flavours just right. Ours came loaded with a pile of tender pulled pork, slow cooked in a tangy, fragrant marinade. The generous size (though it can occasionally be too heavy on rice) was all the more pleasing given the price: a mere fiver.
For now at least, these winged burritos only roost in the City, at three locations near Liverpool Street, Monument and Petticoat Lane. The burritos are built to more traditional recipes: we enjoyed the fragrant, warm spicing of the pulled pork, though chunks of bland tomato were a disappointment. A spoonful of sweetcorn and pineapple salsa added a sweet touch.
Westminster isn’t especially well-served by burrito joints, so it’s no wonder people make the pilgrimage to Picante. Wraps come neatly constructed, with a generous meat-to-wrap ratio, fragrant salsa and mellow beans. Yet, surprisingly, given the name (picante means spicy), fillings are a walk on the mild side; if you like your burrito hot, say so.
Ponchos one to seven are nowhere to be seen, but number eight is a fun-filled burrito bar. Staff here are both friendly and fast, meaning you can be in and out in lightning speed, though it’s a funky spot to dine in, too. Our wrap came with a terrific pulled pork filling that was both tender and warmly spiced, and there were two types of lettuce (the standard cos, plus the addition of radicchio introducing a nicely bitter edge). Only the slight imbalance of ingredients (with a little too much rice) left room for improvement.
A favourite among American expat west Londoners, the burritos from Whole Foods on High Street Ken are a well-kept secret (until now, that is). Ours came filled with high-quality pork (and plenty of it), though the spicing was on the tame side. Equally, the rice was a touch dry, so if you want a burrito that’s both hot and wet, ask for plenty of salsa. Being part of a US outfit, it should come as no surprise that this burrito is super-sized: probably the largest in the capital.
Tongue and Brisket Farringdon
Located at the end of Leather Lane Market close to Holborn road, Tongue and Brisket offers an array of hearty lunchtime sandwiches and bagels including salt beef and tongue. During World War II, Londoners complained about American GIs in Britain by saying they were ‘oversexed, overpaid, and over here.’ London has recently been swamped by another American horde: themed restaurants in the lower price brackets. You can hardly walk down any major thoroughfare without spotting a new burger/barbecue/pizza/chicken joint/deli. The problem? They’re too often overhyped, overpriced, and overrated. The complaints don’t apply to Tongue and Brisket, even though its menu bears a resemblance to New York deli food. It’s a reminder that London has its own long-standing tradition of northern-European Jewish cooking, and that we don’t need to ape the delis of Murray Hill or Williamsburg. Tongue and Brisket keeps its menu very short – a few sandwiches, a few soups, a few sides, a few puddings. I was raised on this kind of food, and I am delighted to report that T&B does everything just right. The brisket (aka salt beef) is brined with skill, cooked to melt-in-the-mouth tenderness, and sliced – as it should be – with its outer layer of fat intact. A sandwich costs £4.90, and it’s of tasteful but filling size. But there’s more here than salt beef. The tongue sandwich is just as good, also meltingly soft and supremely flavourful. Pickles are fine. Chicken noodle soup with a diminutive matzo bal
Venue says: “The home-cured, hand-carved meat at Tongue and Brisket is a tribute to salt beef sandwiches done simply and perfectly..”