Before moving to London, one of my friends once told me “There’s no good Mexican in London”. And for awhile, I believed him. I mean, I was having a really tough time finding anything decent. Not even decent Tex-Mex (which for me is usually pretty horrible, and I know this is going to annoy all of my friends from Texas as well). However, in the last 5+ years of living here, I’ve managed to find some fairly good places. So here is MY selection of the good, the bad and the okay-this-is-fine of Mexican restaurants in London. (I’m warning you, this list is just for actual Mexican restaurants, I’m excluding burrito chains like Chipotle/Tortilla/Chilango because they are all pretty much the same in my opinion, and not amazing. So feel free to put them in the “okay-this-is-fine” category if you must.) And keep checking back as I will add new places as I try them!
Mole Taco Bar: Mole is definitely my favorite place for Mexican at the moment. I’ve not put a single bad thing in my mouth. In fact, some of us talk about going there just for the guac and drinks all the time. (I kind of want the guac right now.) The staff are very friendly, and the portion size is generous. They have a great selection of tequila and mezcal. I’m not a huge fan of the cocktails though, except for the classic margaritas which are especially great with the chili salted rim. It’s great for dates or with a group of friends. While it’s not strictly Mexican, the flavors are perfect, so I just don’t care.
El Camion: El Camion is definitely the Mexican for when you’re drunk and need something amazing. Just make sure to get the nachos, as they are pretty much the best nachos in London. They are piled high with meat and cheese, and they are always on order to share as starters. I am also a huge fan of the enchiladas. The tacos and tostadas are a bit on the small side though, so just be warned. They also do killer margaritas, and I think we always end up drinking a few too many. Definitely worth a go if you want your Mexican dirty and delicious. It’s also great fun to check out the wall of hot sauce!
Cafe Pacifico: This place hold a special place in my heart as it’s the first Mexican that I liked in London. And I really liked it. It’s definitely not your classical Mexican though, more Mexican-fusion. The Brie and Jalapeno quesadillas are pretty fantastic. I absolutely adore the duck and scallop fajitas, and I have to stop myself from ordering them every time I go. I also love the street tacos. I haven’t been quite as often recently, but even the last time I went, I had forgotten how much I liked it! Definitely worth a go.
Club Mexicana: This is the king of Mexican street food. And it pains me to say it as they are 100% vegan. I avoided trying to for so long, but the pulled jackfruit tacos wowed me from the moment I ate them. Everything they serve is a bright, vibrant color and reminds you of being in Mexico. If you’re out at Kerb or someplace else and see them, I highly recommend their food and flavor. Unfortunately, they don’t always have their tacos, which in my opinion is the best way to showcase the flavor of their amazing vegan fillings.
Cafe Chula: Come to Cafe Chula for the drinks. They have an amazing array of margaritas to try, and it’s located nicely in the heart of Camden Market on the waterfront. So if you go in the summer, you have an amazing view. The food was a bit hit or miss for me though. Some of it really needed a lot of spice. They did have great ceviche and some good fish tacos, but on the whole the food wasn’t amazing.
Mestizo: I’ve actually been a few times, and I really loved it. I’ve been twice for dinner and even the brunch was pretty fantastic. It’s come highly recommended to me by Mexicans living in London. My only problem with it (and why it doesn’t end up on the top list) is because the service is so terrible. We’ve been overcharged so many times that my partner kind of refuses to go back. They have a great margarita selection though, so that’s always a bonus.
La Bodega Negra: Alas I’ve only eaten in the top part (for now), and I’ve missed dining in the downstairs restaurant hidden by the porn shop door on the back side of the building. The upstairs is mostly small, light bites. I remember that the food was nice, but really lacking that spicy punch that you want in Mexican food. And the tacos were tiny. I mean they weren’t expensive, but just make normal sized food? I do keep saying I want to go back to try the tasting menu in the downstairs restaurant though. The margaritas were really boring and tiny, so we ended up switching to beer. This one verges on bad territory.
Santo Remedio: This is as the top of The Bad list. In fact, the food itself is probably better than average for London, but unfortunately the tiny venue and the terrible service bumped it from the Okay-this-is-fine list to here. It’s loud, it’s crowded, and it’s just not an enjoyable dining experience because of it. I mean if you’re okay with that, then I suppose you should check it out, but for me dining is the whole experience and the food plays just one part.
Wahaca: Wahaca is the place in London that everyone seems to love, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps the exploding hot sauce (yes, we opened a bottle of hot sauce on the table and it was completely fermented and oozing out of the bottle without any help). I find it fairly mediocre to be honest, and it frustrates me how this restaurant came out of “passion” for Mexican. It’s bland and boring, and the cocktails are pretty much the same. It’s only really worth a visit if you need something quick, but I’m sure you can find something better even if this is true. It’s a popular chain, but another example of why popular isn’t always good. Definitely avoid if you can.
DF/Mexico: Wahaca’s little brother and it shows. I’ve only been once, and I don’t think you could drag me back in ever. Okay maybe if you planned on killing my family in cold blood, but it’s that sort of level of persuasion that would get me back in. The food was boring. They tried to posh up a torta, but it’s supposed to be a dirty sandwich, not something on a brioche bun. The “mild” salsa was ketchup. The hot salsa was bland. The best was the chipotle ketchup. But fries in a Mexican restaurant? That’s clearly just a no-no. Never again.
Cielo Blanco: It’s not a chain, but it might as well be given how bad the food and drink are. It’s definitely a restaurant that needs a lot of work. I think it’s what British people imagine Mexican should taste like not having any idea of what it really tastes like.
Cantina Laredo: This is part of a chain from Texas. And it shows. The food was all completely bland, boring and unimaginative. All I can remember is that it looked pretty, but it wasn’t something I wanted to stick in my mouth. And it’s ridiculously expensive. I don’t have anything really good to say about it actually.
Lupita: Another place people seem to love. I’ve never had a good meal here. The guac made at your table was flavorless. How does one make flavorless guac? I’m still not sure. I mean when you can make it better at home, you know there’s clearly a problem. The portion size was also a bit small, and the meat was bland and tough. They do have a nice selection of tequilas though, so at least they have that going for them. But with the ever growing amount of good to decent Mexican in London, why would you ever come here?
Chimichanga: This is pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel. We came here for a quick dinner before meeting friends near our house. The starters were clearly just frozen and fried. Every main was basically a fajita in sheep’s clothing. We couldn’t wait to get out of here, and when we paid, we saw that the chain was owned by the Prezzo chain, so we understood why it was so bad. Definitely avoid.