While London beats most major cities when it comes to the diversity and authenticity of regional cuisines on offer, it's no secret that the capital has been lacking when it comes to quality Mexican food. Until the last few years, at least, it's been hard to come by options that aren't of the kind you construct via a Build-A-Bear-workshop style selection of rubbery cheese and watery 'guacamole'.

Not only has the quality increased in recent years, but the options have, too. Where once you may have been resigned to a Tex-Mex-heavy option of burritos and quesadillas, these days you can turn a corner and find juicy, dripping birria tacos from Jalisco, Oaxacan-style tostadas piled high with acidulated fish, or classic Lebanese-influenced tacos al pastor from Puebla at the best Mexican restaurants in London.

You'll find guacamole that pays homage to the infamous dip rather than trying to water down its roots, and sees itself rife with coriander, chilli and lip-puckering flourishes of lime juice. Salsas go beyond the simple tomato/onion combination to find themselves heavy with robust chiles de arbol or bringing a sweet touch courtesy of pineapple or mango.

Tequila, too, has become an object of appreciation, rather than a vehicle for oesophagus-burning intoxication synonymous with thumping dance floors. Its trendier, more classic cousin mezcal has found its way into the spotlight, with whole bars dedicated to the traditional spirit. Margaritas are reinvigorated in all manner of ways and a michelada is quickly becoming the city's favourite hangover cure.

All this is to say that London is just beginning to rival big-hitting American cities when it comes to eating the cuisine of Mexico. So, step away from your stringy cheese and foil-wrapped burritos and head to one of the restaurants below. The weather might be incomparable, but the powerful flavours mean you may find yourself momentarily transported to Mexico's sunny, lime-scented shores.

The best Mexican restaurants in London


9 Seymour Street, W1H 7BA

If there are any question marks around London's growing Mexican food gravitas, KOL and it's recently-earned Michelin star should put them all to bed. Born from chef-patron Santiago Lastra's desire to showcase the food of his Mexican heritage with the skills picked up on his international career, including at Noma under René Redzepi, the result is a restaurant that flips expectations around Mexican cuisine on their head. Traditional flavour profiles and cooking methods are explored in unique and interesting ways; tacos find themselves adorned with langoustine and sea buckthorn, chilpachole is full of flaky white crab meat and tostadas are piled high with Cheltenham beetroot and heritage corn. The concept is obviously working – it took less than two years for the Michelin team to come around sniffing and award it a coveted Michelin star.



Netil Market, 13-23 Westgate Street, E8 3RL

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Sitting on the high/low border of gastronomical culture, Sonora taqueria sees a hole-in-the-wall market stall producing some of the city's best tacos – and certainly churning out some of the best tortillas this side of the Atlantic. Owned by Michelle Salazar and Sam Napier, Sonora specialises in food from Salazar's native north-west Mexico, with a focus on juicy, meltingly tender beef and its in-house goose fat tortillas that prompt a digital stampede everytime they are listed for sale.


La Chingada

12 Rotherhithe New Road, SE16 2AA

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La Chingada is one of those places that thrives on in-the-know whispers and furtive looks. It's the kind of restaurant Londoners would prefer to keep a secret, lowering their voice when they tell their friends lest some unworthy passer-by hear. It's also housed in the kind of space that is both easily overlooked and that's almost certain to serve either the best or worst food you've ever eaten in your life. Luckily for London residents, La Chingada can be firmly attributed to the former. It skirts around the edges of Tex-Mex – melted cheese is liberally utilised, sour cream finds itself cropping up and the quesadilla is reliably classic – but anchors itself in true Mexican flavours (and features the suadero taco, the traditional, lesser-known cousin of al pastor).


Tacos Padre

The Borough Market Kitchen, Winchester Walk, Jubilee Place, SE1 9AG

Borough Market is blessed with a trio of Mexican restaurants that have been key to the development of the cuisine in London. Tacos Padre is arguably the bolshy younger sister of the three – operating more as a street food-esque market stall than a restaurant, this is the kind of spot where you'll have to elbow a few fellow shoppers out of the way in order to nab a seat. It's worth it. Being the brainchild of Nick Fitzgerald, who cut his teeth working at iconic chef Enrique Olvera's decorated Pujol in Mexico City, you can expect some of London's best tacos alongside Mexican-inspired small plates off the grill.


Homies on Donkeys

Unit 38, Wood Street Indoor Market, 98 Wood Street, E17 3HX

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Keeping things about as simple as it gets, Homies on Donkeys bills itself as a "legit Mexican taqueria", and it's a moniker the restaurant – a small counter-dining venue located inside a flea market in up-and-coming Wood Street – more than lives up to. The menu is short but sweet and features a concise selection of tacos and tortilla chips with accompanying dips. Classics include chipotle cochinita, adobo chicken and soy al pastor, while rotating specials include anything from twice-roasted cauliflower to pulpo (octopus) with beans.


Del 74

129 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB

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So uniquely Dalston it's easy to forget it's serving Mexican food, Del74 feels like a product of its surroundings. Music pounds through the speakers, colourful neon lights turn everything an otherworldly hue and a sort of contagious vibrancy permeates the lively space. At other restaurants this could mean food falls by the wayside, but not here – the Del74 team manage to combine a party atmosphere and punchy cocktails (the Watermelon Margarita is a classic) without falling into the trap of taking their eye off the ball when it comes to the food, which is largely excellent. The restaurant has also fully embraced taco Tuesday, serving up £2.50 tacos, £3 beers and special margarita jug deals to punctuate the worst day of the week in style.



Various locations

While Hacha may be best known for celebrating the liquid side of Mexico, it shouldn't be overlooked when it comes to pairing some bites with its award-winning drinks. The current residency in its Dalston and Brixton restaurants is overseen by Maíz Azul, a pop-up collective with a focus on traditional Mexican street food-oriented recipes passed down within their families. Staple dishes like baja fish tacos and pork pibil enchiladas are joined by rotating monthly specials like tiger prawn tacos and chiles rellenos.


Tigre Tacos

Various locations

Starting its life as a food truck before expanding into kitchen residencies, Tigre Tacos has found a permanent home above Doña, the mezcal bar owned by Thea Cumming and Lucia Massey, the women behind Dangerous Don mezcal. The menu is seafood-led, with baja fish tacos, mariscos fritos – fried squid, octopus and catch of the day – and pulpo tostada, alongside a number of vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. Find it in its bricks-and-mortar site in Stoke Newington, or head to Nine Lives in London Bridge or The Gunmakers in Clerkenwell, where the team are still sticking to their pop-up roots.


DF Tacos

Various locations

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DF Tacos manages to embrace the jovial side of Americanised Mexican food (enormous jugs of frozen margaritas anyone?) while still sticking to its roots as a taquería primarily inspired by Mexico City. The taco menu runs the gamut of options, from pork pibil to ancho mushroom and everything in between, while buns – a take on the classic Mexican torta – skirt around the fringes of being a burger. Burritos and bowls feature as well, but mixing and matching from the lengthy taco list is going to have you the most well-fed here. Just don't forget the frozen margaritas to wash it down with.


El Camión

25-27 Brewer Street, W1F 0RR

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The original Mexican cantina in Soho, El Camión is as much about getting jolly on endless margaritas as it is feasting on Mexican fare. Alongside iconic bar The Pink Chihuahua downstairs, it's open until 3am, which is an increasing rarity in London - but also means it's a hit for those late-night cravings. Quesadillas offer up an Insta-bait cheese pull. Baja fish tacos are enlivened by the acidity and subtle sweetness of a pineapple salsa. Pork burritos are stuffed with a riot of flavours that actively pulls that middle finger at the wrap's foil-swaddled, fast food reputation. This is food and a fiesta, all in one.



119 Sydney Street, SW3 6NR

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If you're in the market for a bit of a tequila tasting session, then Mezcalito is the spot for you. The list of the quintessentially Mexican spirit is lengthy and is split by style and region, so aficionados can access their favourite drop easily. The food menu is short but sweet - focusing on nibbles, tacos, burritos and quesadillas - everything you need to accompany what is sure to be a well-hydrated evening.



The Hoxton Hotel, 1 Willow Street, EC2A 4BH

Something of a Los Angeles export, Maya is the flagship eatery at Soho House West Hollywood. No doubt sensing that Mexican food is having something of a moment, The Hoxton hotel group have nabbed the restaurant for themselves and plopped it as the cherry on top of their Shoreditch outpost. On a sunny day the rooftop locale feels about as close to LA as you can - although it's notably absent of the stars that no doubt frequent the original. The menu is classic with an unsurprising California twist – expect classic tacos, alongside larger plates like the visually capturing seabass adorned with contrasting stripes of fiery red chilli adobo green herb marinade.



The Standard Hotel, 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG

Occupying a location that is both at the top of an iconic building and also home to The Standard Hotel, you could forgive Decimo for going the way of many hotel restaurants – and restaurants with valuable views – and charging sky-high prices for sub-par food. But, apparently the restaurant was’t content with simply drawing in the snap-happy crowds. Lucky Londoners. The food is a Spanish accented take on Mexican, with a menu that offers up an intersection of the two. The guacamole is some of the best in the city – the addition of goats cheese brings depth and unparalleled creaminess – and the tacos make for a delightful interlude between courses.



Treehouse Hotel, 14-15 Langham Place, W1B 2QS

Refreshingly shifting the focus from simply tacos, Madera at Treehouse Hotel London is a worthy addition to London's Mexican scene (and more than earns a visit thanks to its sweeping views). Also hailing from Los Angeles – the original site, Toca Madera, can be found in West Hollywood – the restaurant unsurprisingly pulls on the city's strong Mexican influences to guide an intriguing menu rife with lesser-seen dishes in London like pan plano (Mexican style flatbread), ceviche and Oaxacan mole negro.


Santo Remedio

Various locations

Starting life as a series of pop-ups and supper clubs, Natalie and Edson Diaz-Fuentes' Santo Remedio found its groove by dishing out authentic plates of Mexican food. Although its roots remain firmly Mexican, specialising in antojitos and street-food such as flautas (deep-fried, filled and rolled tortillas) and tacos, Santo Remedio also makes effective use of local producers. Peckham's Gringa Dairy, for example, is responsible for producing all of the restaurant's Mexican-style cheeses, and it's that extra level of attention that makes the tangible difference. Edson's house-made salsas are a tortilla's best friend, while octopus tikin xik with achiote and pineapple pico de gallo and chuletas al carbón (barbacoa lamb cutlets and salsa cooked in proper Mexican fashion) are a roundhouse kick in the yum department.


Breddos Tacos

82 Goswell Road, EC1V 7DB

Eating a taco has the potential to be a tear-inducing, angels-singing, heart-palpitating kind of event, and the tacos at Breddos Tacos are possibly the closest you're going to get to that level of transcendence in London. Served on 12cm tortillas that are all freshly made in-house on a daily basis, the tacos here are soft, pliable, and mounded with tender toppings and tangy salsa. The star of the show is probably the Puebla-style lamb shoulder taco, though, now that we've thought about it, the baja fish incarnation does give it a serious run for its money. To save pitting those kings against one another, we'd recommend just ordering both. I mean, that's only fair, right?



103 Hampstead Road, NW1 3EL

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A restaurant with a tequila bar, or a tequila bar with a restaurant? It doesn't matter which way round you put 'em, really, because those two make a pretty faultless combination in our books. Don't expect lukewarm velveeta layered on top of a limp burrito here – Mestizo has been the place to get a hold of real deal ceviche de cameron and arrachera (beef marinated in beer and spices with an accompanying side of sautéed potatoes and nopales cactus leaves) since 2004. In an awfully modern day move, they've even got separate menus dedicated to those who are vegan and lactose intolerant. Underlining that Mexican cuisine has something to offer to everyone.


Cafe Pacifico

5 Langley Street, WC2H 9JA

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This old faithful is a reliable Tex-Mex hold up where you can choose from a menu bursting with fajitas, quesadillas, and chilli con carne. The food is decent enough, but it's the atmosphere that'll keep you coming back for rounds two, three and however many more you can muster. Cafe Pacifico has been around since 1982, making it one of London's oldest Mexican restaurants. Yes, it might seem a little dated in a day and age where Noma Mexico has already come and gone, but there's still something to be said about coming to a restaurant where you can eat lashings of comfort food in largesse. Neck a few margaritas, order a huge plate of nachos and pretend you're on spring break with your near and dear. In Covent Garden, not Cabo, mind. Yeah. You can't win them all.


El Pastor

Various locations

Railway arches house some great food and drink in London. Tucked under a nook next to Borough Market, El Pastor is one of our favourites of that under-train genre. Serving first-rate tacos, tostadas, mezcal and more, the restaurant gets its name from tacos al pastor, a dish popular across central Mexico, not dissimilar from the Middle Eastern shawarma, that involves roasting lamb on a rotating spit. Tortillas are made in-house using heritage Mexican corn and why they don't wimp out on delivering authentic flavours. El Diablo salsa – made using a mix of the hottest chillies on the planet – is a ridiculously spicy concoction designed for that point of the night when you've had one too many Sols and want to impress your mates, a decision you'll inevitably regret as the salsa rips through your face like a habañero hurricane. The El Pastor family has expanded over the years and now includes a Soho-based temple of grandeur and Coal Drops Yard's relaxed Casa Pastor, too.


La Bodega Negra

9 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JF

Descend the stairs hidden behind La Bodega Negra's faux 'sex shop' entrance advertising the delights of "adult video" and "peep show" and you'll be pleased to find a cosy cave of a taqueria, divvying out plates of delicate soft shell crab tacos and platters of head-wrenchingly strong agave cocktails. La Bodega Negra's take on Mexican cuisine is fun, flavourful (where else can you get your queso with some truffle fries on the side for an added bit of luxe?), yet doesn't sacrifice on quality. You'll need to make a reservation ahead of time to get a seat, but it's worth it alone for the anecdote of eating at a Mexican erotica emporium-themed restaurant. Tequila and mezcal flights are an obvious must. Come with a lust to fulfil your every appetite.