Mexican food is a recent trend that has emerged on the east coast of the Atlantic and is now an established part of the London food scene. Street food joints, fine dining restaurants, pubs and party centres offer a wide range of options that reflect the Mexican culture itself. Here are 12 of our top Mexican restaurants in London.
In 2010, UNESCO declared traditional Mexican cuisine an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on the grounds that its cultural patterns “include farming, ritual practices, ancient skills, culinary techniques and ancestral community customs and rituals.” Tortillas, burritos, burritos, nachos and frozen margaritas are some of the most popular expressions of this heritage, but there is certainly more to be discovered. A tour of London’s best Mexican restaurants seems like a good place to start.
For many, this is the place to get close to Mexico without leaving central London. Cafe Pacifico has been serving authentic Mexican food since 1982, when tacos and quesadillas were far less fashionable than they are now. Over the years, the menu has managed to change with the times, while maintaining a strong focus on the classics. What hasn’t changed at all is the generous portion sizes and the friendly party atmosphere. Add to that a world-renowned tequila and mezcal bar.
5 Langley Street, London WC2H 9JA.
Cantina Laredo opened in Convent Gardens in 2010, offering a contemporary culinary experience designed to take diners “on an unforgettable culinary journey through the different regions of Mexico”. In addition, the restaurant recently launched London’s first dedicated Guacamole and Tequila bar, prepared in front of guests by the in-house ‘Guacamestro’ and its ‘Eight Guacamoles’. The same approach applies to the careful selection of 100% blue tequilas and smoked mezcal, with the philosophy of “small bites, not heavy drinks.” The restaurant also offers a tequila dinner menu to complement the drinks and food tastings.
Address: 10 Upper St Martin’s Lane, London WC2H 9FB.
When the crowds at Camden Market are suffocating, seek refuge at Cafe Chula. Mexican produce and traditional recipes are key here, with a wide variety of street food that can be enjoyed in a quirky and friendly atmosphere. A prominent tequila and mezcal list indicates a genuine love for these Mexican delicacies, resulting in an amusing array of signature cocktails and tasting options. Happy hour, Taco Tuesdays and live Latin music on Thursdays are regular events here. On weekends, for £10, you can enter Chula’s upstairs neighbour, Lockside Camden, which offers Tex-Mex food, more tequila and late-night parties.
75 – 89 Lower Walkway, London NW1 8AF.
The Tomato Killer.
Killer Tomato, located near Shepherd’s Bush Station, gives tacos, burritos and tacos a new twist. Good value, friendly service and a straightforward approach to food enhances the informal experience, from which Cheeseburger Tacos stands out and recently made Time Out’s list of the top 10 tacos in London. Saturday afternoons are bottomless, meaning all tacos are available, as are unlimited refills of wine, champagne, beer and Bloody Marys. A second branch recently opened in Portobello Road.
18 Goldhawk Road, London W12 8DH.
Leicester Square Kitchen
Leicester Square Kitchen, which recently opened in the heart of the West End, is a modern twist on a halfway point between Mexican and Peruvian traditions. The Peruvian menu features ceviche (raw fish) and manticucho (beef skewers), while the Mexican menu lists soft tacos, tostadas and grilled dishes. The interior is modern, bright and spacious, including an open kitchen area and an outdoor terrace overlooking Leicester Square’s cinema; another temptation for pre-cinema food.
31-36 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LH
Right near the Clapham North station, the cozy and warm Plaza Mendoza offers a true Mexican and Latin American experience, delivered through an approachable concept.Burritos, fajitas, and tacos are the main features here, the latter most popular on Tuesdays (“Taco Tuesday” happy hour). Burgers and barbecue are also on the list, while a brunch menu is offered on weekends. In addition to Mexican classics, the wine list features options from all over Latin America, such as Brazilian cacha?a cocktails, Cuban mojitos and Argentine beers.
3 Bedford Road, London SW4 7SH.
El Pastór is a taqueria in Borough Market where tacos are homemade and street food culture is part of the cuisine. The menu features tacos, tostadas, tortillas and aguachiles, as well as tempting desserts and classic drinks. The undisputed signature dish is the “Al Pastór” taco, made with marinated pork shoulder, caramelized pineapple, guacamole taquero, white onion and cilantro.El Diablo” salsa lurks in the house sauce, which sounds tempting and dangerous, as does the mezcal in the coffee pot. Be prepared.
6-7A Stoney Street, London SE1 9AA.
Mexico City is also known as the “Federal District,” or DF for short, and this Mexican restaurant combines traditional flavors with American influences to offer a proper fast-casual experience. The menu revolves around slow-cooked tacos, burritos, charcuterie, home fries and revisiting avocado smashed tortillas (on toast). Frozen margaritas are a special guest on the wine list, also served in a 1-liter jug. The Paddington branch is located in Pergola Central, an urban garden that offers a variety of drinks and dining experiences. Other branches are located in Tottenham Court Road, Bank and Shoreditch.
5 Kingdom Street, W2 6PY.
With various branches across London, Barrio is the place to go to enjoy the street food culture and party atmosphere from Latin America. In the lively surroundings of the Soho branch, all one needs is light snacks, a wide variety of tacos and sharing platters for large groups, and creative and classic cocktails. To enjoy the rest of the experience, take part in the festivals and events that take place here almost daily. Other branches are located in Angel, Brixton and Shoreditch.
6 Poland Street, London W1F 8PS.
Opened in 2004, Mestizo’s mission is simple: to bring to London the places that Mexicans would go in their homeland. The restaurant’s name means “mestizo” in English, referring to the descendants of the native South Americans and Europeans who make up more than half of Mexico’s population. As a result, the restaurant’s menu is distinctly Mexican, with a mix of popular recipes and fine dining, all of which can be enjoyed in a modern and friendly environment. Try the tasting menu to make the most of the tequila and mezcal selection.
103 Hampstead Road, London NW1 3EL.
Located in vibrant downtown Dalston, Viva is an artisanal tapas and cocktail bar featuring Mexican and Brazilian traditions. Authentic street food is based on fresh and responsibly sourced ingredients. The cocktail list features original recipes based on tequila, mezcal, rum and gin, as well as classic cocktails. As Viva says, “If you’re looking for great food, cool drinks, peace, love, passion and old-fashioned cocktails, this is the place for you”.
2 Stoke Newington Road, London N16 7XN.
Ay Caramba explores all the varieties of basic Mexican and Cuban food with its no-frills cooking, filling the menu with tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, steaks and a rich variety of snacks. High-quality ingredients and local produce provide a variety of spicy Latin specialties, and you can enjoy one of the few margaritas available at the bar. The cheerful, informal and relaxed atmosphere makes Ay Caramba the ideal place for meetings and casual dining.
14-16 Camden High Street, London NW1 0JH.