Jason Allen 18/09/23
The Best Mexican Restaurants in London | These are Nacho Average Taquerias
40 years ago, there were no Mexican restaurants in London.
Crazy, we know.
We live in a different city now, though. For starters: London has Mexican restaurants and even better… they’re actually good, because not only can you get some of the best Mexican food outside of Mexico, but the fact is that many of these restaurants would compete inside of Mexico, too. And for anyone that might disagree, we’ve suffered through the hard labour (you know, like eating a whole grilled octopus with bone marrow from the old head chef at Noma Mexico and spending an afternoon in Borough Market loading up on 24-hour marinated al pastor tacos) to prove that this is indeed, a fact.
For convenience (and the purposes of potentially mapping out a taco tour), this list has been divided into different parts of town – so if you live in Clerkenwell you can sleep easy knowing that although Kol is a journey (worth taking), somewhere like Breddos Tacos is just down the road. In addition, whatever intentions you may have planned for your visit – schooling yourself on the many kinds of agave, scouting out fun places for birthday drinks – you can put money on any of these Mexican restaurants in London catering to it, as they’re all extremely versatile venues.
Please find the full list below…
El Pastor Soho
By now, most of us know El Pastor pretty well. But if you need a brief rejoinder on why this growing family comprises at least three of the best Mexican restaurants in London…. El Pastor has everything from smaller bites (tacos and tostadas, made freshly in-house) to larger sharing platters (like grass-fed Angus short rib braised for 12 hours in a chipotle-muscovado-coriander seed rub), all topped with fresh, house-made salsas and washed down by nine different margaritas, as well as 15 different mezcals and 21 tequilas. After which, you’ll likely going to want to call a cab home.
Details: El Pastor: 7a Stoney Street, SE1 9AA | Walk-in only | El Pastor Soho: 66-70 Brewer St, W1F 9UP | Book here | Casa Pastor: Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, N1C 4AB | Book here
Temper | Soho, Covent Garden, The City, Shoreditch
Temper started out as three restaurants, one serving Indian food, one serving pizza, and one serving Mexican food. And now it’s four restaurants serving Mexican food. Infer from that what you will, but one thing’s for sure – the menus are all delicious. Tacos appear as precursors to the hefty portions of barbecued meaty mains, and come with wildly untraditional but delicious toppings like smoked goat, burnt ends and even aged cheeseburger. Then, beef brisket carnitas, jalapeño-laced burrata and steak with chipotle sour cream to follow. temper Covent Garden even runs Taco Tuesdays every week from midday to close, with £5 tacos and £5 margaritas – tough to beat.
Details: Find out more, and book, here
Club Mexicana | Kingly Court, KERB Seven Dials, Brixton Market, Shoreditch
Club Mexicana isn’t like any of the other Mexican restaurants on this list. The tacos are (animal product) free and their vegan takes on tacos and burritos replace baja fish with battered tofu, and pulled pork with fleshy barbecued jackfruit, to create some of the most filling of fillings. And at Club Mexicana Shoreditch and Soho, you can eat as many as you please on Taco Tuesdays, with bottomless dining from 5pm for £17.50.
Details: Kingly Court, W1B 5PW | Book here
La Bodega Negra | Soho
La Bodega Negra: everyone’s favourite Mexican restaurant hidden behind a seedy looking sex shop. Find your way past the silicone toys and into the restaurant itself, and you’ll be presented with a candlelit cavern with a killer tequila list and some seriously strong date-night game. The food stretches from crispy squid tostadas, to soft shell crab and chipotle tacos, scallop & hibiscus ceviche, to slow-roasted lamb barbecoa and crispy pork belly. And it’s lovely.
Details: 9 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JF | Book here
Zapote | Shoreditch
Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. And while, yes, the sign outside this Mexican restaurant in Shoreditch is a type of fruit called a sapote rather than an acorn, it too marks the start of something mighty. Zapote comes to you from a real power team: chef Yahir Gonzalez and hospitality veteran Tony Geary, who draw on their experiences at Aqua Nueva and Sketch to deliver a polished dining experience with a twinkle of authenticity, thanks to Gonzalez’s upbringing in central Mexico.
Details: 70 Leonard St, London EC2A 4QX | Book here
Del 74 | Dalston
Del 74 – which is run by two chef buddies, Enrique Vivas & Jorge Felizardo – is a lively den of Mexican goodness in the middle of Dalston. The music is loud, the decor extravagantly kitsch, and the menu is laden with tacos, which themselves are laden with house-made salsas, slow-cooked meats and hearty chunks of sweet potato.
Details: 129 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB | Book here
Breddos Tacos | Clerkenwell
Breddos Tacos have made an impressive jump from being kings of the street food scene to now contending as one of the best Mexican restaurants in London. They make all their taco bases in-house, following millennia-old techniques*… but the flavours are anything but traditional. Expect hits of pepper-punched kung pao pork belly and shredded Brixham crab with just enough Mexican flourishes to remember what you’re eating. They even make tlayudas; a sort of tortilla pizza, which they top with shredded chipotle chicken, avocado and Mexican herbs.
*They have their very own Mexican volcanic stone mill, on which they prepare their home-made tortillas
Details: 82 Goswell Road, EC1V 7DB | Book here
Homies on Donkeys | Leytonstone
Tacos and hip hop: a kick-ass combination. And that’s what you’ll find at this graffiti-plastered taqueria in Leytonstone, run by a duo who originally hail from Tijuana. Tacos arrive in pairs, laden with the likes of medium-rare bavette steak with jalapeño relish; charred broccoli with refried beans; and hunks of slow-cooked chicken thigh with roasted tomato salsa.
Details: 686 High Rd Leytonstone, London E11 3AA | Book here
Santo Remedio | London Bridge & Shoreditch
Santo Remedio is named after the Mexican expression for ‘holy remedy’, and the food at this vibrantly colourful spot will cure whatever ails you, thanks to tacos stuffed with the likes of soft shell crab, pork belly, or 8-hour braised beef. If you fancy going larger, then you can get a whole lamb shank sided by a host of sauces. And it’s all delicious with a helping of their signature guacamole. It’s some of the best in the city, but we should probably forewarn you – it comes topped with grasshoppers. Plural.
Details: London Bridge: 152 Tooley Street, SE1 2TU | Book here | Shoreditch: 55 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HP | Book here
Tacos Padre | London Bridge
Tacos Padre – tucked away in Borough Market – is a grab-and-go taqueria that, during the summer months, expands to include a leafy, alfresco restaurant that feels….just that little bit closer to Mexico. Sit in and, as well as tacos, you can feast on a whole load of other small and large Mexican sharing plates – everything from grilled lamb chops with salsa boracaha and cucumber salad to 300g of Carne asada rib-eye, with burnt spring onions and beef adobo, as well as house-made tortillas and a seriously delicious selection of salsas. As for the booze, think margaritas and mezcal, there to be sipped or thrown back with fervour, depending on where the rest of the night is set to take you.
Details: Borough Market Kitchen, Winchester Walk, Jubilee Place, London Bridge, SE1 9AG | Book here
Cavita | Marylebone
Cavita, since since opening in May 2022, has swiftly risen to become quite possibly the best Mexican restaurant in London. It’s the debut solo spot from Adriana Cavita, who’s spent years working in some of the world’s top kitchens, including El Bulli (three Michelin Stars), Pujol (currently 12th on the World’s 50 Best list), and Aska (two Michelin Stars). So we can count ourselves lucky that she chose London for her own restaurant (and secret mezcal bar, Mayahuel) with sharing dishes like wood-grilled chicken and whole sea bream cooked inside banana leaves.
Details: 60 Wigmore Street, Marylebone, W1U 2RZ | Book here
Kol | Marylebone
KOL is what Santiago Lastra decided to open, in Marylebone, after running Noma Mexico (and blowing everyone’s socks off doing it). Now, you may think that this would set expectations for his debut restaurant unreasonably high, and you’d be right. But then, Santiago Lastra is unreasonably talented. Kol is beautiful. It’s welcoming. It’s got an extraordinary menu, stuffed with dishes like lobster & smoked chilli tacos, whole grilled octopus with bone marrow, and chalk stream trout tostada with berries and black garlic. You can also enjoy those as part of the Kol chef’s table experience, and there’s a separate mezcaleria for all manner of smoky cocktails…
Details: 9 Seymour Street, Marylebone, W1H 5BT | Book here
Decimo | King’s Cross
Decimo comes courtesy of two-Michelin Star chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, and you’ll find it on the top floor of The Standard Hotel in King’s Cross. Head into the bright red elevator that skims across the building’s facade, and you’ll be welcomed into a retro-rustic space with a striking view out across the capital. So far, so good. But it’s the menu that’ll really marks it out as one of the best Mexican restaurants in London – the kitchen is built around the huge grill, which is scorching the likes of turbot, scallops, XL-sized langoustines, hulking ribs of beef, suckling pig shoulder, lobsters, and quails with mole glaze, and that’s just the start of it…
Details: The Standard London, 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG | Book here
Taqueria Exmouth Market | Clerkenwell & Notting Hill
Bookending the city in Exmouth Market and Notting Hill, Taqueria Exmouth Market started out the truly authentic way, as a street stall hawking tacos and agua fresca. And now you should make the most of the chance to enjoy their soft corn tacos indoors. They make sure all their produce is ethically sourced, with free range chicken, line-caught fish, and locally farmed pork & beef, and you can wash them all down with beers or a couple of mean margaritas.
Details: 8-10 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QA | 141-145 Westbourne Grove London W11 2RS | Book here
Sonora Taqueria | Stoke Newington
Sonora Taqueria might not be a fully-fledged Mexican restaurant, but its in-and-out taqueria in Stoke Newington is still a step up from the original stall in Netil Market that frequently drew queues around the block. Come here for an inventive breakfast burrito with scrambled egg and machaca (dried beef) or fresh tortillas topped with grilled and slow-cooked fillings, served rough and ready on paper plates. There are spots to perch up at the counters, but you can always take them for a walk in Abney Park just across the road.
Details: 208 Stoke Newington High St, London N16 7HU | No bookings, open Thurs-Sun 12-4pm
You’ve feasted on tacos. You’ve braved the grasshopper guacamole. You’ve ticked off every single Mexican restaurant in London, and now you need (deserve) a nightcap. Luckily, all these excellent tequila bars are here to lavish you with the national spirits of tequila and mezcal, both in highly educational tasting flights, and highly delicious cocktails…
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