40 years ago, there were no Mexican restaurants in London.
Crazy, we know.
Between then and now, things have changed just a touch. We live in a very different city. 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 these are the very finest amongst them…
Cavita | Marylebone
Since opening in May 2022, Cavita 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, 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
After running Noma Mexico (and blowing everyone’s socks off doing it), Santiago Lastra opened Kol in Marylebone. 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 impress – 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
Del 74 | Dalston
Run by two chef buddies, Enrique Vivas & Jorge Felizardo, Del 74 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
Santo Remedio | London Bridge & Shoreditch
Santo Remedio means ‘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. Check out Santo Remedio Shoreditch
London Bridge: 152 Tooley Street, SE1 2TU | Book here
Shoreditch: 55 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HP | Book here
El Pastor | London Bridge, Soho, King’s Cross
By now, surely we all know El Pastor. And we surely all love it too. The signature dish here is, of course, the taco al pastor (“shepherd style”), an import from the Lebanese who emigrated to Mexico in the ’50s and ’60s. Though inspired by lamb shawarma kebabs, it’s actually made with pork that’s been marinated for 24 hours in dried chillies, spices and orange juice, piled up on a house-made corn tortilla (yes, they make their own tortillas) and crowned with chunks of zingy, fleshy pineapple. A-yes please.
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
Breddos Taqueria | Clerkenwell
Former street food kings Breddos Tacos 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
La Bodega Negra | Soho
Ah, La Bodega. 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
Temper | Soho, Covent Garden, The City
Temper started out as three restaurants, one serving Indian food, one serving pizza, and one serving Mexican food. And now it’s three 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 toppings like bone marrow, soy-cured beef, black vinegar mushrooms and even aged cheeseburger. Then, al pastor barbecue pork ribs, wood-roasted sea bass, and barbecue duck painted with a chipotle-guava glaze to follow. Tough to beat.
Temper Soho: 25 Broadwick Street, W1F 0DF | Book here
Temper Covent Garden: 5 Mercer Walk, WC2H 9QP | Book here
Temper City: 2 Angel Court, 30 Throgmorton Street, EC2R 7HJ | Book here
Club Mexicana | Soho
Welcome to Club Mexicana, where the tacos are (animal product) free. 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 their Carnaby Street restaurant, you can even get a vegan Mexican-style fondue and tacos al pastor, sliced straight off the vegan spit spinning behind the open kitchen…
Details: Kingly Court, W1B 5PW | Book here
Taqueria Exmouth Market | Clerkenwell & Notting Hill
Bookending the city in Exmouth Market and Notting Hill, Taqueria 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
DF / Mexico | Shoreditch
Tucked into the Old Truman Brewery, this eponymous eatery comes from chef Thomasina Miers, who launched Wahaca, and with it, introduced modern Mexican food to half the country. Here, things are slightly more upscale. The tacos arrive in ingenious metal holsters, laden with buttermilk fried chicken with avocado mojo, marinated steak with grilled cheese, and oven-roasted mushrooms with ancho chilli and feta, and they’re damn good.
Details: The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL | Book here
Cafe Pacifico | Covent Garden
Cafe Pacifico proudly stakes its claim to being London’s first Mexican restaurant, and it’s hard to dispute. And although it may well be the original, it’s impressively managed to prevent itself from falling victim to its own success – after whetting the city’s appetite for Mexican food, and inviting an army of newcomers (many of whom are on this list), Pacifico has nevertheless managed to keep up with the public’s newfound extremely high standards for tacos and their brethren. It’s colourfully kitsch, it’s welcoming, and it serves a good old fashioned plate of theatrically sizzling fajitas…
Details: 5 Langley Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9JA | Book here
Want to wash all this down? Head to one of the city’s best tequila bars…