The Best Places To Eat Magnificent Mexican Food In London

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For a city of such great culinary diversity and choice, Mexico seems to be less enthusiastically represented in London than many of the world’s other great cuisines. Or so the recent culinary narrative in the Capital goes…

Fear not though, as this is more a journalistic trope than a reflection of London’s current dining darlings. Nope, there’s far more to this scene than sombreros and several shots of Tequila. Sure there’s outlets of the chain Wahaca on every corner, offering approachable Mexican fare to hungry Londoners wanting convenience and efficiency. Entry level stuff, maybe, but a decent feed nonetheless.

Scratch the surface just a little more inquisitively though, and things get very interesting indeed. Invigorated by a string of quality taqueria openings in recent years, London’s Mexican restaurant scene has announced itself more assertively of late than a particularly raucous Mariachi band. So, read on for our roundup of the best places to great Mexican food in London.

Cavita, Marylebone

Design by IDEAL images via Cavita London

With an alumni of both Pujol and El Bulli on the stoves, and a dining room designed by Camila Rodrigues of the esteemed design team at COR London, what could possibly go wrong?

Not a lot, actually, as Cavita is already knocking things well and truly out of the parque after just a year of being open.

In a textured, tactile room that positively glows as you enter it – full of natural stone elements, exposed bricks rendered white and plenty of primavera wood trim – some of the most wholesome, utterly delicious Mexican food is being served.

It’s the first solo project from esteemed chef Adriana Cavita, and she’s a chef who pulls no punches, with a tight menu divided into raw bits, appetisers, street food, sharing and side dishes. From that raw bar, the aguachile’s base of chilled watermelon takes this always-revitalising dish into indispensable territory, a fine foil for some of the more protein-heavy headliners that follow.

The smoked beef shin quesabirria, complete with a shell of caramelised cheese reminiscent of the best bits left behind in your Breville, and served alongside a viscous veal consomme for dipping, requires a certain amount of energy to take down, particularly with sharers still to come, but it’s a glorious tussle we’d happily take a round two for.

When the sharing pulpo a las brasas does hit the table, heaped charred tentacles intertwining, reinforced by blistered, sweet spring onions and cactus slices, it’s an intimidating proposition. But once portioned and placed on the most delicate of house-pressed tortillas, it’s ethereal.

You might have guessed by now that we didn’t have room for dessert, but we’re told they’re excellent by friends that did. There’s always room for a digestiv of sorts, though, in the restaurant’s basement mezcalaria, Mayahuel, to help move things along.

Website: cavitarestaurant.com

Address: 56-60 Wigmore St, London W1U 2RZ

And with that, we’re moving on, just down the road, and to KOL…


KOL, Marylebone

You could certainly make a case for Marylebone being London’s very own Little Mexico. Actually, you couldn’t, that’s nonsense, but the district does boast not one but two of arguably the best Mexican restaurants outside of El Tri.

Santiago Lastra, the head chef and co-owner of Kol, certainly has some pedigree, having, with chef Rene Redzepi, masterminded Noma’s critically acclaimed Mexican iteration back in 2017.

Here, his vision of celebrating the finest British ingredients using both traditional Mexican cooking techniques and a fair few modern flourishes is executed flawlessly. Or rather, it feels flawless now; in reality, the restaurant’s opening was a rocky one, with successive lockdowns preventing Kol from getting off the ground as smoothly as it deserved.

Rest assured, the restaurant has well and truly hit its stride, winning a Michelin star a year after opening and ranking #73 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List in 2022 (yep, we realise that doesn’t quite make sense, too).

What does make sense is the concept here, with ingredients traditionally so closely intertwined with Mexican food culture here substituted out for their broadly British equivalents. So, that’s an innovative pistachio puree replacing avocado, sea buckthorn bringing the acidity for Kol’s now iconic langoustine tacos, and a dairy farmer in Kent producing Oaxacan-style cheese for the restaurant.

All this wouldn’t matter if the food wasn’t as downright delicious as its inspiration across the Atlantic, but the recent main event here, of lamb barbacoa, freshly made tortillas and a selection of intricately composed condiments, was as straightforwardly satisfying as you’ll find in any restaurant with designs on the top awards in the culinary world.

With a fascinating wine list that draws on some of the unsung heroes of Central and Eastern Europe, Kol is already one of London’s top tier dining experiences. We can’t wait to see where they go next.

Address: 9 Seymour St, London W1H 7BA

Website: kolrestaurant.com


Mexa at Arcade Food Hall, Tottenham Court Road

When beloved London Fields taco joint Sonora Taqueria announced their closure in July of 2022, citing the need for a larger, permanent home, the city’s Mexican food aficionados were devastated. Sonora had quickly earned a reputation as being one of the few places in London where you could get a truly great taco without having to first endure a speech on nixtamalization and a wine flight.

The disappointment quickly abated when just three months later it was announced that, firstly, a permanent site had been found in Stoke Newington (due to open later this year), and secondly, the dynamic duo behind Sonora, Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier, would be popping up at Central London’s thriving Arcade Food Hall, with their new creation, Mexa.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Mexa, a term of endearment in Mexico, has been a massive hit. What was originally intended to be a perfect 50:50 split between raw fish dishes and meat-laden tacos has very much given way to the latter, the menu now a carnivore’s dream, with the pork carnitas with properly piquant salsa verde a highlight.

The main event, though, is without doubt the lamb birria, served alongside a rich lamb consomme, wearing its very best phytol perfume. With the obligatory cheese crust added for a quid, you’ll definitely ruin your favourite T-shirt taking this one down, but it’ll be worth the trip to Primark afterwards.

Address: 103-105 New Oxford St, London WC1A 1DB

Website: arcadefoodhall.com

Instagram: @mexa_ldn


La Chingada, Surrey Quays

In this unassuming taqeuria (are we allowed to write that word without getting sued?) on Rotherhithe New Rd, next door to a dental practice whose sign looks in good need of a whitening treatment, La Chingada has quietly been churning out some of London’s best Mexican food for several years now.

We say ”quietly” owing to its backwater Surrey Quays location, but the decor is anything but, its fluorescent pinks and light blues a visual barrage as you enter. Neither are the flavours muted here, with salsas that don’t so much pack a punch as give you a good hiding, and a chef who isn’t afraid of the transformative power of animal fat. Plenty and plenty of animal fat…

Feel the power in the exemplary tacos al pastor, piled high on corn flour tortillas that can barely take the weight, the pork’s achiote paste marinade mixing with its rendered fat and going fucking everywhere after a single puncturing bite. It might all be a bit too unctuous if the meat itself hadn’t caramelised and crisped on its slowly rotating spit, bringing the textural contrast your trigeminal nerves just long to lap up.

Keep lapping in true taqueria style on an imported Jarritos soda or two, and then go and get your teeth done next door. The perfect South East London evening, we think…

There is now a second La Chingada in Euston. Rejoice!

Website: lachingada.co.uk

Address: 12 Rotherhithe New Rd, London SE16 2AA

Read: The best restaurants near Peckham Rye Station


El Pastor, Borough Market

Design by IDEAL image via El Pastor Instragram

El Pastor is from the The Hart Brothers, who have pretty much perfected no reservations, counter-seating tapas bars with Barrafina. Fresh, vivacious food with all the hustle, bustle, chatter and cheer of their previous joints makes El Pastor one of our favorite taquerias in town.

With outposts now also in Soho and Kings Cross, there’s no denying El Pastor’s popularity with the masses, too, but with many fond memories formed, it’s to the inaugural joint in London Bridge that we always find ourselves returning.

The menu is primarily taco-led, although quesadillas and a few sides also make an appearance. The sharing short-rib, cooked until falling apart, served with a serious seasoning mix of sugar, salt and spices, has been on the menu since day-dot is a must try. It was one of those knockout dishes that appears on lists and Instagram feeds alongside eulogies for the rest of the year. You’d be crazy not to add bone marrow for an extra three quid – it made a near perfect dish even better.

Oh, and when it’s on the specials, order the pescado frito, which sees seabass fried with bite-sized filetitos. It’s a visual treat that tastes as good as it looks. And it looks bloody great.

Address: 6-7A Stoney St, London SE1 9AA, UK

Website: tacoselpastor.co.uk


Tacos Padre, Borough Market

Tacos Padre, a stall inside Borough Market slinging out some truly superb tacos, is the second most recent opening on our list, but one which has felt right at home in this corner of London right from the off.

Chef Nick Fitzgerald has some serious credentials within the world of Mexican food; he’s previously worked at Mexico City’s Pujol, consistently named the best Mexican restaurant in the world, as well as London’s excellent Breddos Tacos.

At Padre, the tortillas are made fresh daily – a must if you’re to call yourself the ‘daddy’ – with tacos generously adorned with slow-braised, super-unctuous meaty fillings (or should that be ‘toppings’? Who knows). 

Yep, it really is all about the meat here, with the beef suadero spun through with aged beef fat bringing so much mouthfeel it’s a vaguely erotic experience. The pork cochinita is similarly arousing. 

Though it’s a largely stand-and-lean affair at lunchtimes, with a reduced ‘taqueria’ style menu holding people upright, in the evening Tacos Padre spreads its wings a little, with tables set up outside the stall and a fuller spread on offer. Whichever time you choose to rock up, you will be fed very well here.

AddressThe Borough Market Kitchen Padre, Winchester Walk, Jubilee, London SE1 9AG

Websitetacospadre.com


Breddos Tacos, Clerkenwell

Design by IDEAL image via Breddos Tacos website

Like many of the best (relatively) recent restaurant openings in London (think Som Saa, Bao….)  Breddos started out small and temporary; a makeshift taco shack with residencies and pop-ups across the capital that soon turned into something much bigger.

Now there’s several of them – the original in Clerkenwell, one in Liverpool, and a couple in Oslo, Norway, all charming in their own way.

Though the owners have travelled through Mexico extensively and been influenced by the many roadside taquerias and traditional restaurants found along the way, authenticity isn’t exactly on the menu here, but it’s a meaningless descriptor at the best of times, so let’s instead just embrace the deliciousness, hey? Expect makrut lime, seaweed and caviar rubbing shoulders with the usual suspects on an eclectic line up of always tasty grub.

Address: 82 Goswell Road, London. Clerkwenwell

Website: breddostacos.com


Santo Remedio, London Bridge

Design by IDEAL image via Santo Remedio Instagram

There’s been plenty of discourse in recent months about the state of Mexican food in the UK, made all the more fervent by a poorly-pitched episode of Great British Bake Off ‘celebrating’ the country’s cuisine.

But to be dismissive of the standard of Mexican restaurants here would be to do a disservice to Santo Remedio, a boisterous, beautiful place to enjoy some of the best food in the vicinity of London Bridge Station.

The first thing that hits you when you walk through the door is the noise, in the best possible way, of course. This is a restaurant where big groups congregate, converse animatedly and put away quite a few margaritas; if you ever want to witness the restorative nature of a busy, buzzing restaurant, you should head here, make no mistake. 

The food certainly isn’t an afterthought to the atmosphere. The signatures here – a grasshopper topped guacamole, with the insect bringing both crunch and a distinctive, floral citrus hit, and a tempura soft shell crab taco, which is a textural delight – are just that for a reason. But don’t miss the sharing seabass a la Talla (a traditional dish from Acapulco) either, which comes adorned in both red and green salsas, and is delicious as it is eye-catching.

Santo Remedio has another restaurant in Shoreditch and at the weekend, both venues offer a popular bottomless brunch, which sees margaritas, wine, beer and cava freely flowing for ninety minutes, All you have to do is order a dish or two off the menu. Go on then, you’ve twisted our arm…

Address: 35B, Arch, 85B Southwark Bridge Rd, London SE1 0NQ, United Kingdom

Websitesantoremedio.co.uk


La Bodega Negra, Soho

Hailed as ‘one of London’s best nights out’, La Bodega Negra is a mix between underground speakeasy restaurant and tequila bar. And what a perfect combination that has turned out to be. The menu offers the usual suspects; tacos and tostados, but anything off the grill is particularly good.

While the food is excellent, it’s mostly the atmosphere we come here for. The tequila and mezcal list is ridiculously long, and a night attempting to get through it is a righteous, riotous night indeed.

Address: 16 Moor St, Soho, London W1D 5NH, UK

Websitelabodeganegra.com


Mezcalito, Chelsea

Step into Chelsea’s Mezcalito, with its sombreros swinging from the ceiling, Day of the Dead-adorned tumblers, and thrusting King’s Road clientele, and you might be forgiven for thinking that you were here for a good time, not for a delicious one.

But to make that assumption would be to underestimate the fine Mexican food being served here, which, at its best, is as vital as the Tulum-inspired terrace during a MIC Christmas party. 

The sea bass ceviche is a case in point. Pitch perfect in its balance of salt and lime, the thin slices of fish are taut and dynamic, revealing that they’ve been dressed only minutes before serving, as it should be. 

On the opposite end of the scale but equally telling of the busy work going in the kitchen, we’re told that the restaurant’s empanadas are all baked to order, and will take 20 minutes accordingly. They arrive pert and plump, with a chalky pastry that only the best empanadas possess, and a shredded chicken and chimichurri filling that’s generous to a fault, but quite delicious.  

Best of all are the signature brisket barbacoa quesadillas, which hit the table as a stack of four positively heaving with spiced, shredded beef and the kind of oozing, hotter-than-the-sun cheese that should carry a health warning. Superb.

For a place overtly determined to have you stumbling back out into Chelsea in full song, the cocktails – named after reggaeton chart-toppers – are, unsurprisingly, a hit, too. The Titi me Pregunto, with its assertive mix of Codigo Blanco tequila, chilli and lime, was the pick of the bunch for us, but that might be because we’re a little bit in love with Bad Bunny. 

For something more straightforward, choose from the restaurant’s selection of over 450 mezcals (one of the largest collections in Europe), or let them do it for you, with a three glass flight of the good stuff, starting at £25 per person.

Either way, enjoy those drinks looking out over the dense cactus selection in the neighbouring Chelsea Gardener plant centre, and you’ll feel like you’ve been whisked away somewhere altogether more tropical.

Website: mezcalitochelsea.com

Address: 119 Sydney St, London SW3 6NR


Honourable Mentions

Homies On Donkeys, Leytonstone: We were in love with the sexy, smoky tacos served up at Homies On Donkeys’ Walthamstow taqueria. Though we haven’t yet checked out the new venue over in Leytonstone, we can’t wait to do so. Check back here for a full report soon!

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