Londoners may have witnessed a taco takeover in recent years, but there’s so much more to the capital’s ever-growing Mexican food scene. From badass burritos to tip-top tostadas and exemplary enchiladas, we’ve rounded up the restaurants around the city that put the ‘fun’ in fundido.
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It’s all about the burritos at Benito’s Hat – a vibrant Tex-Mex joint dreamed up by a former City lawyer. The interior might look like something out of central casting, but the fast-moving counter churns out some the best floury filled tortillas in town, backed by a 10-strong line-up of fresh salsas. Tacos, salads and antojitos also go well with Benito’s merciless margaritas.
Venue says: “Get 50% off food Sunday to Wednesday if you dine before 7pm. Book using the code 'Frida'.”
Don’t be fooled by the ‘sex shop’ frontage – there’s nothing sleazy about this dark, loud basement rendezvous. La Bodega is dressed to thrill and its homely take on Mexican cuisine always looks pretty – check out the beautifully presented tacos, ceviches, tostadas and ‘hot plates’ such as roast chicken with freekeh. Despite small portions and two-hour table limits, this is a must-try.
Former pop-up Breddos is now in the big time, and making the most of its teensy Clerkenwell spot. Ogle the wall of disco records while you sit elbow-to-elbow at a communal table – no worries, the food will get you talking. Creative global tacos are the headline acts, and they’re mould-breakers: crunchy nut sweetbreads with pea mole and coriander root, anyone?
Bargain prices suit the setting at this family-run Mexican eatery in Brixton’s foodie market complex. The menu’s brief, but there’s bags of choice, flavours are big and the colours bold: we recommend the tacos appetisers, the enchiladas suizas, the zingy chocolate cake laced with árbol chillis and – of course – the potent cocktails. Be warned: service can be market-trader curt.
The fish tacos are made from tofu, the ‘scallops’ are king oyster mushrooms and the ‘chicken wings’ are chook-free – welcome to the totally vegan Tex-Mex world of Club Mexicana. The owners trumpet their commitment to ethical sourcing, while the short menu offers up small plates, quesadillas and taquitos as well as variants on the tacos theme involving jackfruit and suchlike. Racy cocktails too.
Venue says: “On the weekends, join our Bottomless Brunch. Enjoy 2 hours of free-flowing Bloody Marys, Bucks Fizz & Frozen Margaritas for £20 per guest.”
Generous tacos served with lashings of old-school hospitality is the deal at Corazón – an unassuming, cosy and sincere taqueria custom-built for Soho’s hungry hordes. Head to the bar and counter for cocktails and nibbles; sit in the main space for a full-on nosh – perhaps crab tostadas followed by a masa cake stuffed with pig’s head and bone marrow. Gentle prices, genial service.
Billed as a ‘kick-ass Mexican grill’, one-time street stall Daddy Donkey has morphed into a permanent behemoth among Leather Lane’s cheap handbags, shoes and CDs. That old takeaway feel is still there, but the quality’s consistent – try a ‘naked burrito’ (sans tortilla) or the signature Daddy D with a choice of five fillings. The combinations are endless – and so are the queues.
‘DF’ stands for Mexico City’s Distrito Federal, but this affordable, mass-market offshoot of the Wahaca chain couldn’t be more London – and fashion-conscious with it. All the trademarks are here: strikingly modern design, cheery staff, no bookings and Mexican fast food with a hipster spin. Open tacos hit the spot, as do the pork pibil tortas – a trendy Mex riff on the burger.
If you need cheering up, head down to this Mexican hideaway beneath the arches by Borough Market. Owned by the Hart brothers (of Barrafina fame), Pastór is a taco joint with pedigree and a rollicking fiesta vibe. Order the mighty ‘al pastór’ pork taco, the DIY short rib or the ‘gringa’ quesadillas with fresh salsas and a blast of loud Latin music.
Now holed up in SheBu, this permanent reboot of street-food hero Matt Paice’s perambulating van has evolved from zealous veggie to likeable omnivore – and it’s an all-round cracker. What to eat? The crayfish tostadas with tomatillo salsa, the Korean-style chicken taco and the ‘cheeseburger’ combo are all excellent with a pokey tequila cocktail. No cash, no bookings, but plenty of smiles all round.
Despite a clipboard-toting greeter, Taqueria has a charming indie feel with its bare wood floors, film posters, Latin soundtrack and unfussy food. Tacos are the big hits (try the version with home-cured chorizo), but there are also a few tostadas, enchiladas and the usual suspects on the side. Drink Mexican beer, mezcal and tequila, or stay sober with a cooling ‘aguas frescas’.
Wahaca’s vibrant interiors, unfailingly bubbly service and self-styled Mexican market food are synonymous with good times in the capital – and this Fitzrovia branch is no exception. From the steak burritos to the little black bean tostadas, just about everything on the instantly addictive menu is an outright winner. Takeaways, a standalone mezcal bar and a breakfast menu are further reasons to be cheerful.
Taco obsessive? Here are the best in town
With the street-food scene booming, London’s take on tacos is getting tastier by the day. If you’re into morsels of meat and veg topping soft little tortilla bases and you don’t mind making a mess, say hola to these champion stalls and restaurants making an excelente stab at our favourite Mexican street food.
Tay Do Restaurant
The guys behind this Kingsland Road Vietnamese restaurant must be doing something right - they've got another venue (Tay Do Café) just down the road. As with most of the Pho Mile spots the focus is firmly on the food - we're miles away from fine dining frippery. There's certainly plenty of choice here. Dishes range from summer rolls, char-grilled lamb cutlets in chilli and lemongrass to green papaya salads, sour soup with mekong catfish, spicy frog's legs, pho noodle soups and deep fried sea bream with salt, lemongrass and chilli. It's unlicensed but diners are welcome to bring their own bottles, with a corkage charge of £1 per person. Soft options include fresh juices, homemade lemonade, green tea and Vietnamese coffee.