1. Cantina Laredo
There aren’t many gourmet Mexican options in London which perhaps explains the perennial popularity of Cantina Laredo (one year after opening, the Upper Street eatery is always busy).
For a bit of stomach lining, start with a crevice of seafood – a generous (you won’t leave this restaurant hungry!) serving of scallops, prawns and fish, before mains like pescado del dia (sea bass with coriander and citrus beurre blanc). Authentic desserts include churros (fried dough dusted with sugar). The décor doesn’t dazzle, but the food is good and staff are bright, chatty and vivacious.
10 Upper Street, St Martin’s Lane, WC2
020 7420 0630
2. Crazy Homies
A hugely popular hangout, the atmosphere at Tom Conran’s Crazy Homies is bright and warm, enticing you to hang around for hours. Fortunately staff are friendly, rather than frosty, and have no objection to you lingering around to sip a margarita or a traditional Michelada (a Mexican beer with citrus juices, salt and seasoning), while perusing the menu.
Feast on oversized burritos and quesadillas as well as hearty, wholesome salads, but be sure to save room for the house speciality: churros (crunchy cinnamon doughnuts served with a chocolate dipping sauce). The heavenly, homely cooking is complemented by the fun, kitsch interior.
125 Westbourne Park Road, W2
020 7727 6771
3. Green & Red
A welcoming little slice of Mexico in the heart of London’s so hip it hurts east end, Green & Red beats all the other Mexican contenders in the capital, hands down.
The moment you set foot inside the restaurant, you know you’re in the hands of professionals; its polished front of house team steer you with a smile to your table and there’s an equally confident brigade at work in the kitchen.
Stand outs from the extensive menu include carne asada (steak with chipotle salsa), accompanied by corn tortillas, and the chicken with chilli, cumin and epazote herb. Downstairs the basement bar serves a range of competent cocktails and the obligatory tequila, to help get the party started.
51 Bethnal Green Road, E1
020 7749 9670
Taqueria is fast becoming Haute Living’s top choice for Mexican food in London. At lunch time, it’s a chilled drop in centre (ideal for families) while evenings get more buzzy. Food consists of generous portions of Mexican staples – think quesadillas and refried beans – that are worth the wait. If you can manage dessert, junk the diet and try the Platanos con cajeta – fried plantain, ice cream, cajeta (goats milk toffee) and toasted almonds. Staff are pleasant and easy going, and there’s also a small selection of Mexican groceries for sale at the entrance.
139-143 Westbourne Grove, W1
020 7229 4734
Wahaca – which sells itself as an upmarket street food purveyor – has carved out a niche for itself, in the capital. As well as the original Covent Garden outpost, there’s also a branch in Canary Wharf and Westfields.
Owner Thomasina Miers claims to draw her inspiration from Oaxaca’s awesome Cas Oaxaca restaurant. Unfortunately there’s nothing especially authentic about the food – quesadillas, burritos and Platos Fuertes all feature and are tasty if uninspired – but nonetheless it continues to delight, with its winning alliance of crowd and character.
The bottom line? If you’re yearning for genuine Mexican food, take a taxi to Tacqueria but for a lively night out, Wahaca won’t disappoint.
66 Chandos Place, W2
020 7340 1883