★★★★★ / ★★★★☆ / ★★★☆☆ / ★★☆☆☆ / ★☆☆☆☆ / Mexican

The best burritos and tacos in London – 55 burritos, 83 tacos, 59 eateries, one verdict

And some of the worst too

For many Londoners burritos are nothing more than a mildly exotic rice sandwich – a lunchtime filler to help them get through the working day. Most will devote little thought into choosing one; the idea of travelling to find the best burrito in the capital would be as alien and incomprehensible as hunting out the best egg and cress sandwich. This is a real shame as burritos, and its close relation the taco, are among the most misrepresented ‘ethnic’ dishes in London – the vast majority are average at best, with only a few worthy of praise.

Following my review of Death by Burrito, frequent dining companion The Euro Hedgie challenged me to to find the best burritos in London. There’s much more to Mexican cuisine than burritos and tacos of course – good huevos rancheros, empanadas, moles and tamales, to name but a few dishes, are even harder to find than a good burrito. Nonetheless, it was the humble burrito and taco that got me addicted to Mexican food in the first place.

If you just want to get straight to the reviews, or even right down to The Winners, then feel free to skip this introduction where I explain what makes a good burrito and taco for me.

Building a better burrito

Burritos may be the equivalent of a sandwich, but that’s no excuse for having a bad one. A burrito should consist of a hearty, flavoursome meat filling, a hot spicy sauce and a zesty, coarsely ground guacamole to balance out the spiciness. Rice is, as I understand it, a relatively recent American addition with more authentic Mexican burritos omitting it. If rice is going to be present in a burrito, then the ratio between meat and rice should be in favour of the meat.

Burritos almost always come with a choice of beans – black turtle beans or mashed, refried pinto beans. The former should be salty, the latter should creamy and nutty and both should be hearty and not too soft or mushy. I’m not a fan of either cheese or sour cream in my burritos, so I usually order without them. All of this should be tightly wrapped in a tortilla with little to no leakage. A burrito shouldn’t be served ‘wet’, i.e. topped with a mixture of tomato sauce and cheese as is common in godawful Tex-Mex restaurants. If I wanted a bastardised enchilada, then I’d order one.

Tacos

Despite their initial similarities, tacos are a different kettle of fish altogether. Burritos use wheat flour tortillas, whereas a good taco should use a corn flour tortilla instead. Corn flour tortillas, as I understand it, are difficult if not impossible to make in sizes above four or five inches in diameter – any bigger and the thin membrane falls apart which is why all burritos use 12 inch wheat flour tortillas. Corn flour tortillas have a slightly more uneven thickness but a fluffier texture than a wheat flour tortilla. They should have a distinctive nutty taste, further setting them apart, so any taco that uses a wheat flour tortilla is but a pale imitation. Any taco that uses a hard shell tortilla, which obscures and brutalises the taste and texture of the filling, earns my instant disdain.

Some of the eateries reviewed here treat tacos as nothing more than miniature burritos, overstuffing them with the same fillings as a burrito. This is a mistake – less is more when it comes to tacos. What fillings there are should be carefully chosen allowing them to shine through – meat, a garnish, perhaps some sauce and that’s it.

Having said all of that, I’m not above trying some of the quirkier, more gimmicky burritos and tacos available in London.

Meat-iple choice

Pork is my meat of choice when it comes to burritos and tacos, although I can be persuaded to nosh on chicken, beef and chorizo as well. Pork is often derided by some as an inferior, less flavoursome meat but the right cut from the right pig in the right hands can be a thing of beauty.

Postres

Despite my best efforts, one cannot survive on burritos and tacos alone. Horchata, a soft drink made from rice and cinnamon, can be a starchy but very refreshing thirst quencher. It’s a perfect way to wash down all that meat and carbs as long as the drink isn’t too heavily overloaded with cinnamon.

Sweet tamales, where corn meal and fruit are steamed together while wrapped in a corn husk, are hard to come by. A good alternative dessert are churros – deep fried dough sticks, dusted with sugar and cinnamon and served with either chocolate sauce or cajeta, a dipping sauce somewhat similar to caramel or dulce de leche. A crisp exterior should give way to a soft, fluffy interior that’s free of excess oil.

When and where

Over the past four months I’ve endeavoured to eat at every restaurant and market stall serving burritos and tacos that I can find in London. This includes lunch places, which are primarily open at lunchtime catering to office workers, although some do stay open into the evening.

A special exception had to be made for Tex-Mex restaurants. Every Tex-Mex restaurant I’ve ever been to has been unspeakably awful. Their continued existence gives Mexican food a bad name in Britain and probably explains Richard Hammond’s bigoted comments about Mexican food in that episode of Top Gear (you know the one I mean). They can’t be ignored entirely though and I squeezed in visits to a few Tex-Mex restaurants that I managed to randomly stumble across London.

Without further ado…

Table of Contents (click a link to jump straight to a specific review)

Restaurants

Boho Mexica

Cafe Chula

Cantina Laredo

Crazy Homies

El Camion

La Bodega Negra

La Perla

Lupita

Mestizo

Santo

Taqueria

Wahaca

Lunch places

1910

Adobo

Benito’s Hat

Burrito Bros

Burrito Cafe

Burro Burrito

Chilango

Chimi’s

Chipotle

El Burrito

El Mexicana

Flying Burrito

La Catrina

Mexway

Picante Grill

Poncho No 8

Tortilla

Market stalls and food trucks

Ambriento

Buen Provecho

Daddy Donkey

Freebird

Kimchinary

Luardos

Santana Grill

Taco Stand

Take-aways

Amigos

Bar Burrito

Mexican Express

Mi Casa

Tacolisa

Wrap It Up

Miscellaneous

L’Autre

Barrio Central

Bombay Burrito

Cafe Bebek

Comboco

The Diner

Mildred’s

Robin Hood

Tacuba

Whole Foods

Tex-Mex restaurants

Cafe Mexicali

Chico Bandito

Chiquito

Desperados N1

El Paso (Hoxton)

Loco Mexicano

The Winners

Restaurants

Boho Mexica

Boho Mexica has a bad rep, but I honestly can’t fathom why. The horchata is pretty good for starters – milky, a touch creamy and sweet with only a light dusting of cinnamon for flavour.

horchata at boho mexica

horchata at Boho Mexica

Boho Mexica doesn’t serve up burritos, but it does have plenty of tacos all of which use fluffy corn flour tortillas. The unusual sea bass option sees some slightly smoky, tangy fish topped by a surprisingly sauerkraut-esque coleslaw that’s citrusy and sharp and not too heavy so it doesn’t overpower the taste of the sea bass.

sea bass tacos at boho mexica

sea bass tacos at Boho Mexica

The shrimp tacos use sweet, meaty prawns that have a tomato-ish taste to them that’s complimented nicely by the sharp acidity of the pickled red cabbage. There was quite a lot of spillage though with a substantial amount of the oily, slightly smoky sauce dribbling out onto the plate.

prawn tacos at boho mexica

prawn tacos at Boho Mexica

Sadly, the most disappointing of the tacos I tried were the ones filled with ‘Mayan-style’ braised pork. Although sweet and slightly spicy, the meat lacked the tangy moreishness I was expecting. The sweet, sharp pickled onion garnish made up for this to some extent though.

braised pork tacos at boho mexica

braised pork tacos at Boho Mexica

Sadly the tre leches cake was unavailable on the weekday evening of my visit, so I opted for the corn on the cob instead. Having corn on the cob as a dessert is unusual from an European perspective and it’s expensive for what it is at £4.50. Having said that, it was still an interesting dish. The tender kernels were topped with a silky sheen of creamy mayonnaise, some sharp, slightly sour cheese shavings and a squirt of sharp, zesty lime juice. The scattering of chilli powder was muted though. Overall, it’s similar in taste to tinned creamed corn, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

corn on the cob dessert at boho mexica

corn on the cob dessert at Boho Mexica

Rating: ★★★★☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £7

Boho Mexica on Urbanspoon
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Cafe Chula

Located in Camden Lock Place with a view of the water, Cafe Chula is an irritating place to eat. Seating is uncomfortable and cramped, opening hours are erratic, the horchata was unavailable and service was rushed on my weekday evening visit. Although Chula is a no-burrito joint, all the tacos used nutty, fluffy corn tortillas. The chicken tacos used an annoyingly bitty, textureless mush for meat, but at least the earthy, tingly sauce was flavoursome.

chicken tacos at cafe chula

chicken tacos at Cafe Chula

The pork al pastor tacos were far better. The moist chunks of smoky pork were topped with a fruity, zesty pineapple sauce that meshed nicely with the tingly spiciness of the relish.

pork al pastor tacos at cafe chula

pork al pastor tacos at Cafe Chula

The prawn tacos were surprisingly good. Although a touch small, the crustaceans were firm and fresh with a musky flavour that was complimented rather than overwhelmed by the chunky guacamole.

prawn tacos at cafe chula

prawn tacos at Cafe Chula

The only major disappointment of my meal was the tre leches cake. Although the sponge was reasonably moist, it wasn’t as airy and fluffy as versions available elsewhere. It was topped by dry, desiccated, flavourless coconut rather than the evaporated, condensed and whole milks used elsewhere. This made for rather dry, tough eating.

coconut sponge cake at cafe chula

coconut sponge cake at Cafe Chula

Rating: ★★★★☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £8

Cafe Chula on Urbanspoon
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Cantina Laredo

Located in Covent Garden, this restaurant is the only British branch of an American chain. On both of my visits the place was packed to the rafters with unimaginative Yankee tourists. On my first visit I went slightly off-piste and started off with a ceviche. Except tossing flavourless flecks of salmon and cooked shrimp in lime juice, topping it with sweet corn and cheese and then serving it in a hard tortilla shell doesn’t count as a ceviche. A war crime against my stomach perhaps, but not a ceviche.

ceviche at cantina laredo

Vom.

I should’ve known better than to have ordered the chicken enchilada following the dismal ceviche, but the alleged presence of a chocolate mole piqued my interest – very few Mexican restaurants serve dishes with moles. Sadly the bone dry chicken-filled tortilla tubes were topped with an excessively sweet sauce that lacked the depth of flavour of a real mole.

chicken mole enchilada at cantina laredo

What was I thinking?

The churros were unavailable on my first visit, so I opted for the flan instead – a sort of Mexican creme caramel. Except the dessert that arrived on my table wasn’t a delicately soft flan but resembled a stodgy cheesecake instead.

flan at cantina laredo

What the blazes is this?

I really didn’t want to return to Cantina Laredo, but I was obligated to do so having failed to have any tacos the first time around. The pork tacos started out well with thick, nutty corn flour tortillas, but each one was stuffed to the point of overflowing. The small, stewed chunks of pig were smothered under a torrent of pineapple chunks, onions, coriander and bell pepper pieces. The overwhelming tastes were of sugary sweetness and crunchy pepperiness rather than a moreish mix of fruity acidity and meaty moreishness. In other words, these pork tacos were crap.

pork al pastor tacos at cantina laredo

I’m doing this all for you.

The churros were even worse. The excessively soft tubes of pastry tasted stale and were hollow in the centre. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear they were yum yums rescued from a supermarket skip. Even the cajeta was rubbish – it was more like a watery milk chocolate drink than a caramel-ish dipping sauce.

churros at cantina laredo

Now you’re just taking the piss.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £14

Cantina Laredo on Urbanspoon
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El Camion

I wasn’t expecting much from the colourfully decorated El Camion and the sour mood of the grumpy waitress did little to reassure me. The pork burrito was sloppily wrapped, but it’s clearly meant to be eaten with a knife and fork rather than with one’s hands given its appearance with a side serving of vinegarish salad and tomato rice. I wasn’t pleased by the presence of sour cream daubed on the meat despite my request to exclude it, but the pork was surprisingly good. The hearty serving of pig was dense and fatty with a gentle woody flavour to it while the pinto beans were firm. No sauces were applied, with bottled sauces provided on each table instead.

pork burrito at el camion

pork burrito at El Camion

Sadly the tacos used wheat flour tortillas. The fillings weren’t terribly impressive either. The pork tacos used mildly spicy, tender strands of pork but it was hard to make out as it was buried underneath some mediocre tomato salsa and a bland, smooth guacamole.

el camion pork tacos

El Camion pork tacos

pork tacos at el camion

pork tacos at El Camion

The fish tacos used meaty, moist chunks of tilapia, but as before, the smothering of salsa and guacamole made them hard to appreciate. The chorizo tacos were the best of the lot, but that’s damning with faint praise. Although meaty and mildly salty, the chorizo slices weren’t especially fatty and ultimately forgettable.

chorizo tacos at el camion

Sorry folks, forgot to take photos of the tilapia tacos. Here are some chorizo tacos instead.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6.50

Average price per burrito: £8

El Camion on Urbanspoon
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Crazy Homies

Crazy Homies reminds me of a student flat – colourful, friendly but goosebumpingly cold due to the lack of heating. The savoury menu has some interesting seafood options such as the scallop tacos. Although big and meaty, the scallops lack the distinctive zing I’d expect from that shellfish. The sweet corn and excessively soft black bean topping don’t really suit the scallops either. Although corn tortillas are used, they were warmed over a little longer than they should have been. This resulted in a rather inflexible, slightly crisp membrane that was prone to breaking.

scallop tacos at crazy homies

scallop tacos at Crazy Homies

Mahi Mahi, a tuna-like fish not often seen in Europe, turned up in my burrito. The generous helping of dense and moist fish outnumbered the rice although the zesty dressing was oddly inconsistent – bold in places, muted in others. It also needed a little something extra – perhaps firmer, saltier black turtle beans. Although I opted to have it dry, the burrito still came with the guacamole and sour cream on top rather than on the side. Still, at least the guacamole was chunky and citrusy.

burrito at crazy homies

burrito at Crazy Homies

mahi mahi burrito at crazy homies

mahi mahi burrito at Crazy Homies

The pork used in the pig tacos was a little dry, but the firm and dense meat was still pleasing to the mouth. A tingly, earthy spicy sauce was very flavoursome, but there wasn’t enough of it. There was plenty of the same nicely made guacamole that accompanied the burrito, but these tacos also used the same troublesome tortillas as the scallop tacos.

pork tacos at crazy homies

pork tacos at Crazy Homies

Although the churros were a touch too oily and seemingly dusted with caster sugar rather than brown sugar or cinnamon, the dough sticks were very buttery with a crisp exterior and a delightfully fluffy interior. The accompanying bitter chocolate dipping sauce was bizarre though. I like bitter chocolate, but the sauce here was also inedibly acidic.

churros at crazy homies

churros at Crazy Homies

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £7-12

Average price per burrito: £11

Crazy Homies on Urbanspoon
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La Bodega Negra

I’ve visited both the upstairs diner and downstairs restaurant at La Bodega Negra before. This time around I visited the upstairs diner and sampled some corn flour tacos from their burrito-less menu. My favourite had to be the chorizo and potato tacos where salty, fatty, soft ndjua-style chorizo was complimented nicely by starchy bits of potato.

chorizo and potato tacos at la bodega negra

chorizo and potato tacos at La Bodega Negra

The pork al pastor tacos came a close second. The woody, slightly smoky meat worked well with the smooth sweetness of the pineapple bits.

pork al pastor tacos at la bodega negra

pork al pastor tacos at La Bodega Negra

One of my favourite tacos at La Bodega Negra from my previous visits were the prawn variety. Sadly the prawns are no longer quivering and just-cooked, but cooked through and a touch stodgy. They are meaty and fresh though and while the pickled onions left me non-plussed, the zesty, slightly smoky dressing made up for it. Sadly the lamb tacos, while tender, were bland.

prawn tacos at la bodega negra

prawn tacos at La Bodega Negra

lamb tacos at la bodega negra

lamb tacos at La Bodega Negra

Rating: ★★★★☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

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La Perla/Cafe Pacifico

La Perla is a small but multinational chain with restaurants and bars located in Covent Garden, Paris and Sydney. I’ve included the Covent Garden branch here with all the other ‘real’ Mexican restaurants, but its expansive menu resembles a Tex-Mex menu in some respects too.

All of the tacos use corn flour tortillas and, no matter the filling, all are garnished with onion and coriander and served with a selection of sauces on the side. A fairly zesty green coloured sauce is joined by a fairly strong chilli and garlic sauce. There’s also a small salad of nutty beans and sweet, crisp celery.

The best of the taco fillings was the prawn – fresh, firm and just cooked, each little crustacean was quivering and juicy. The same couldn’t be said for the poultry options – both the chicken and duck were very dry. The excessively soft duck was almost mistaken for  pork or chicken – it was that anonymous. The separate shredded chicken option was a flavourless mush.

prawn taco at la perla

prawn taco at La Perla

duck taco at la perla

Duck taco at La Perla. I ate the chicken taco before I could photograph it.

Despite being cooked medium rare the steak filling was also dry and characterless, while the shredded beef option was a bit too salty.

beef taco at la perla

beef taco at La Perla

If the tacos were ultimately underwhelming, the chicken burrito was positively bad. Served wet with a vaguely tomato and coriander flavoured sauce, this was an ultimately bland burrito despite the best efforts of the unwanted dollops of sour cream and the creamy, slightly spicy guacamole. The moist, but bland shreds of chicken filling were forgettable while the rice had probably been tipped out of an Uncle Ben’s packet. At least the black turtle beans were mildly tangy, but if the beans are the best thing about a burrito, then something has gone very wrong.

chicken burrito at la perla

chicken burrito at La Perla

The chicken inside the chicken burrito at la perla

The chicken inside the chicken burrito at La Perla.

Given the less than stellar savoury dishes, I wasn’t expecting much from the churros but the dessert was surprisingly inoffensive. Each dough stick was very crisp and free of excess oil, although none were particularly flavoursome or fluffy on the inside and lacked the attractive golden colour of the very best churros. Oddly, the churros was served with an anonymous blob of budget chocolate ice cream rather than a chocolate dipping sauce.

churros at la perla

churros at La Perla

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £13

Average price per burrito: £11

La Perla on Urbanspoon
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Lupita

Lupita has a branch near Spitalfields, but I ended up paying a few lunchtime visits to the Charing Cross branch instead. All of the tacos used corn flour tortillas, but while somewhat lacking in the taste department they were thicker and heartier than usual. This made them better at holding in all the fillings.

The crustacean meat in the prawn tacos was inconsistent – some prawns were firm and fresh while others were distinctly underwhelming. Surprisingly, the sweet and creamy melted cheese complimented the mildly zesty dressing nicely.

prawn tacos at lupita

prawn tacos at Lupita

The chorizo used in the chorizo and potato tacos is far from the best chorizo you’ll ever have, but the fatty chunks of sausage are still very satisfying – especially when taken with a dollop of tender potato. The tender, zesty strands of pork used in the pork pibli tacos also hit the bill.

chorizo and potato tacos at lupita

chorizo and potato tacos at Lupita

pibil pork tacos at lupita

pibil pork tacos at Lupita

None could compare to the cactus tacos though. The soft and tender chunks of vegetable were juicy, somewhat citrusy and had an unexpected but pleasing aloe vera-esque flavour. It was all very refreshing which contrasted nicely with the surprisingly hot salsa.

cactus tacos at lupita

cactus tacos at Lupita

Lupita’s pork burrito has the benefit of some good quality meat, but needs some punchier flavours to go along with it. The loosely wrapped, rectangular package is best eaten with cutlery than hands. The pork filling has a firm bite that gives way to a fruity, juicy center. There was more pork than rice, while the the creme fraiche was refreshing and a welcome change from the usual cloying heaviness of sour cream. There was minimal guacamole though and the vaunted chipotle mayonnaise only had a very mild amount of heat.

burrito at lupita

burrito at Lupita

pork burrito at lupita

pork burrito at Lupita

You’ll need a better drink than the horchata to wash it all down. An excessive amount of cinnamon was used in an attempt to disguise the wateriness of this drink, but the overuse of the spice also impaired refreshment.

horchata at lupita

horchata at Lupita

Although slightly chewy on the outside and only mildly fluffy on the inside, Lupita’s churros are buttery, free of excess oil and generously dusted with cinnamon. The thick, moderately sweet cameral-esque cajeta is a better bet than the forgettable chocolate sauce though – the latter is, at best, mildly malty.

churros without sauce at lupita

churros without sauce at Lupita

churros with chocolate sauce at lupita

churros with chocolate sauce at Lupita

Rating: ★★★★☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £7

Average price per burrito: £10

Lupita on Urbanspoon
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Mestizo

Mestizo leaves burritos to its spin-off El Burrito, concentrating on other dishes including tacos. Although the corn tortillas used here only had a muted nuttiness, that’s the only fault I can raise against the tacos here. The pork pibil variety benefits from zesty, fruity stands of tender pig.

pork pibil tacos at mestizo

pork pibil tacos at Mestizo

Even better are the pollo con mole tacos. The chicken itself may be rather forgettable, but the earthy, nutty, slightly bitter mole had great depth of flavour. This sauce was enhanced and complimented by a sour cream that looks more like cottage cheese. It’s still tart and creamy, but not as heavy or cloying as the sour creams I’m used to and has a firm bite too.

pollo con mole tacos at mestizo

pollo con mole tacos at Mestizo

The vegetarian cactus option is no poor relation. The sweet, juicy slithers of cactus are best described as a cross between melon, bell peppers and cucumbers in terms of taste and texture. They’re neither too soft nor too firm.

cactus tacos at mestizo

cactus tacos at Mestizo

The horchata was a milky, starchy delight with only a slight hint of cinnamon.

horchata at mestizo

horchata at Mestizo

Mestizo is one of the few places in London that serves up sweet tamales. Served as a pair, the first smooth mash was nutty and mildly sweetened while the second was fruitier thanks to its flecks of raisin.

sweet tamales at mestizo

sweet tamales at Mestizo

Rating: ★★★★★

Average price per portion of tacos: £6.50

Mestizo on Urbanspoon
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Santo

The burritos at this restaurant near Portobello Market are smaller than usual, but no less interesting. The pork variety is a touch too dry for my taste, but it’s also hearty and slightly offaly with a tender, slightly bitty texture reminiscent of ham hock. There’s an even balance between the pork and the rice, while the sweet, crisp vegetables were a refreshing touch. The tortilla was watertight with no spillage whatsoever.

Although I’m not usually a fan of sour cream, the slightly tart version used here isn’t too runny or heavy and is essential if you choose to dress the burrito with the extra spicy sauce which packs one hell of a wallop. Probably made from jalapeños or scotch bonnet peppers rather than bird’s eye chillies, the extra spicy sauce is initially fruity and tingly at first, eventually giving way to heat sweats, tears and a burning sensation on the tongue. Excellent.

pork burrito at santo

pork burrito at Santo

Although the king prawn burrito used the same perfectly wrapped tortilla as the pork version, it otherwise couldn’t have been more different. Although the crustaceans are rather small, they are firm and complimented well by the smooth but zesty and slightly salty guacamole. There’s a slight hint of olives, but most of the flavour here comes from the beans which are dressed in a very flavoursome, chocolate-like sauce.

king prawn burrito at santo

king prawn burrito at Santo

Of the two taco varieties I tried, the ox cheek version is easily my favourite. The dense, yet tender meat has a musky earthiness that is simply delicious. It’s topped with just onions and coriander, which was all that was needed. Perfect.

ox cheek tacos at santo

ox cheek tacos at Santo

Santo’s cactus tacos weren’t quite as show stopping as the ones at Mestizo, but they’re still very good. The moist, squidgy, sweet vegetable slithers were complimented nicely by a thin, but sweet and milky cream. Both the ox cheek and the cactus tacos used fluffy, mildly nutty corn tortillas.

cactus tacos at santo

cactus tacos at Santo

Compared to the extensive savoury menu, the short dessert menu feels like an after thought. The only dessert that caught my attention was the chocolate cake which had a nutty, malty taste to it. Not very chocolatey, but still pleasing, especially as it melted on the tongue. The slightly tart flakes of milk ice cream added a much needed refreshing touch.

To top it all, Santo easily has the warmest, friendliest, most welcoming service of any Mexican restaurant I’ve been to in London.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £7.50

Average price per burrito: £12

Santo on Urbanspoon
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Taqueria

Taqueria is located deep within the wilds of Notting Hill and, as it name suggests, concentrates mostly on tacos. The pork belly tacos weren’t as fatty as I had hoped. Their texture was also a little inconsistent, with some chunks of meat soft and tender, while others were a little firmer. The crisp tart cabbage provided a good contrast in texture, but the dominant flavour here was of the sweet, fruity sauce rather than the pork itself.

pork belly tacos at taqueria

pork belly tacos at Taqueria

Although the prawns used in the prawn tacos were forgettable, the contrast between the cool, creamy guacamole and the tingly, spicy chipotle made up for this to some extent.

prawn tacos at taqueria

prawn tacos at Taqueria

The chorizo and cheese tacos were visual oddities. Here the lean, beef-like bits of chorizo were enveloped in an omelette-like cheese jacket. The entire thing was then wrapped inside the nutty corn flour tortilla. Although hearty and unusual, these tacos were ultimately rather stodgy and didn’t quite work due to the rather bland cheese and chorizo.

chorizo with cheese tacos at taqueria

chorizo with cheese tacos at Taqueria

Taqueria’s churros were a bit too crunchy for my liking, but the pastry was at least buttery and there was a generous dusting of cinnamon. The cajeta is pretty good though – milky, tangy and sweet. It’s almost too good for the imperfect churros.

churros with cajeta at taqueria

churros with cajeta at Taqueria

Taqueria’s horchata was a bit watery with the starchy and cinnamon elements toned down in favour of more milkiness, but it was still a refreshing and tasty drink.

horchata at taqueria

horchata at Taqueria

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Taqueria on Urbanspoon
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Wahaca

The pork pibli tacos used to be the stand out, must-have signature dish at Wahaca, but standards have dropped as this chain has expanded beyond its original Covent Garden location. The version served up at the Wardour Street Soho branch used fluffy corn flour tortillas, although their nuttiness was muted at best. The moist strands of pork were firm and lightly smoky, but it took a back seat to the sharp and sour pickled onions and the fresh coriander. The marinade coating the meat left me non-plussed, but at least the spicy sauce had some kick to it, numbing my lips.

pibil pork tacos at wahaca

pibil pork tacos at Wahaca

Wahaca’s chicken tinga burrito had a rice-meat balance slightly in favour of the zesty rice. The moist stands of poultry are accompanied by some earthy turtle beans and a tingly, moderately spicy sauce. The lightly baked tortilla is prone to cracking though, leading to some unwanted content spillage. A competent, if unexceptional burrito.

chicken burrito at wahaca

chicken burrito at Wahaca

The horchata was watery and tasted mostly of cinnamon.

horchata at wahaca

horchata at Wahaca

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £4

Average price per burrito: £7

Wahaca on Urbanspoon
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Lunch places

1910

Locating 1910 deep within the bowels of the Westfield shopping centre near Shepherd’s Bush can be tricky if you have a poor sense of direction. It’s downright impossible if you rely on the centre’s touchscreen maps which are woefully inaccurate. Although it’s open well into the evening, having dinner in a shopping centre made me feel dirty and it’s not something I want to repeat.

Having said that, the food is surprisingly decent. The fluffy corn flour tortillas used in the tacos are distinctively nutty, but they can become very soggy from both the tomatoes and lettuce, as well as the mildly tingly hot sauce. The pork filling is moist with a vague hint of smokiness but was otherwise rather anonymous. The beef is better – dense, earthy with a mild degree of spicy heat although it’s rather dry.

nineteenten pork taco

pork taco at 1910

nineteenten beef taco

beef taco at 1910

The chicken burrito was tightly wrapped with an even proportion of meat and rice. However, although the chicken was moist it was rather tasteless apart from a small initial hit of saltiness. The smooth guacamole and excessively soft black beans were also unremarkable, while the hot sauce was only mildly tingly.

nineteenten chicken burrito

chicken burrito at 1910

It’s only really worth eating at 1910 if you’re desperately craving a burrito while shopping at Westfield and even then I’d thick twice.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: ?

Average price per burrito: ?

Nineteen Ten Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Adobo

Adobo feels like a chain, but there’s actually just one location on High Holborn. Adobo’s tacos were, on the whole, a limp effort. The wheat flour tortillas can be filled with either pork or beef, but both were bland and were only palatable due to a coating of mildly fruity sauce. The excessively soft pork tacos were especially moist with sauce, but this had a nasty habit of soaking the tortilla, causing it to fall apart.

pork taco at adobo

pork taco at Adobo

beef taco at adobo

beef taco at Adobo

The best of the taco fillings that I had was the chicken. The grilled poultry was a little too dry, but it did have a slightly earthy muskiness to it.

chicken taco at adobo

chicken taco at Adobo

The most interesting thing about Adobo’s pork burrito was the option to have a whole wheat burrito which added an extra layer of heartiness to the whole thing. The wrapping was rather sloppy though and the tortilla ended up bursting, spilling mildly spicy hot sauce and meat everywhere. The pork filing used here was dense and moist but otherwise unremarkable. At least there were roughly equal amounts of rice and meat. The addition of salty chorizo and the creamy, chunky guacamole livened things up considerably, but the fried pinto beans were a little too mushy for my liking.

pork burrito at adobo

pork burrito at Adobo

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Average price per burrito: £6

Adobo on Urbanspoon

Benito’s Hat

I’ve rated Benito’s Hat quite highly before, but the Fitzrovia branch of this small chain faces increased competition in this round up. Having said that, it can still cook up some good grub. The pork burrito was filled with frim, juicy meat that hadn’t been overcooked to the point of mushiness, while the spicy tabasco-based sauce and pickled jalapeños added some real kick. There was more meat than rice too, so this burrito didn’t leave me feeling too bloated. The fly in the ointment was the sloppy tortilla wrapping – filling leakage was a real problem.

benitos hat pork burrito

pork burrito at Benito’s Hat

Some of the seasonal specials can be disappointing though. The current (at the time of writing) pork and cactus burrito was filled with more rice than either pork or cactus. What there was of it was pretty good – firm and moist pork joined by juicy, sweet slivers of cactus. There was minimal guacamole, allowing the zesty, tingly mildly spicy hot sauce to dominate. The wrapping this time around was better with only a little leakage.

pork and cactus burrito at benitos hat

pork and cactus burrito at Benito’s Hat

Disappointingly, the tacos used wheat flour tortillas but at least the filling of braised chicken was better. Moist, mildly smoky strands of chicken managed to retain their flavour despite being buried underneath an avalanche of smooth, creamy guacamole and refrigerated lettuce and tomato, no doubt helped by the punchy chilli sauce and fresh coriander.

chicken tacos at benitos hat

chicken tacos at Benito’s Hat

The serving of horchata was a bit on the small side, but despite a heavy dose of cinnamon it still retained its sweet, mildly starchy milkiness.

horchata at benitos hat

horchata at Benito’s Hat

Some of the best things on the menu at Benito’s Hat are the desserts, such as the tres leches cake. The ridiculously moist and airy sponge was slathered in a thin, yet somehow very creamy and sweet mixture of condensed, whole and evaporated milk. Immensely satisfying.

tres leche cake at benitos hat

tres leche cake at Benito’s Hat

Rating: ★★★★☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £3

Average price per burrito: £7

Square Meal

Burrito Bros

Located in the wilds for Farringdon not far from a branch of Workshop Coffee, this small cafe is split over two small floors. Annoyingly the tacos use hard shell corn tortillas, although there wasn’t much taste for them to hide. The dry and flavourless chicken desperately needed as much hot sauce as I could handle. The pre-applied hot sauce was very mild though with a subtly fruity sweetness to it. It was hard to make out too given the copious amounts of cheese and sour cream that I didn’t want.

chicken taco at burrito bros

chicken taco at Burrito Bros

The pork burrito did little to lift my spirits. Although tightly wrapped, the dry shreds of pork had only a very mild smokiness, the smooth guacamole was bland and the hot sauce was extremely mild. Plus there was more rice than meat.

burrito bros pork burrito

pork burrito at Burrito Bros

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Average price per burrito: £6.50

Burrito Bros on Urbanspoon

Burrito Cafe

You’d never find the King’s Cross branch of this small two-outlet chain unless you were deliberately looking for it. Given the quality of the pork burrito, there’s no need to look for it either. Although tender, the pork filling was so anonymous that it could have been almost any other meat. The mushy guacamole was tasteless and the hot sauce was mildly tingly at best. There was slightly more rice than meat, but at least the rice actually tasted of something – zesty lime and coriander to be precise. The tortilla was wrapped fairly well, with only a small amount of leakage.

pork burrito at burrito cafe

pork burrito at Burrito Cafe

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £6.50

Burrito Cafe on Urbanspoon

Burro Burrito

Unlike all of the other lunch places reviewed here, the underground Burro Burrito doesn’t use the typical conveyor belt system where the burrito is assembled to order before your eyes. Instead, place your order, hand over your payment and find a table. The food is then brought to you.

Burro’s tacos didn’t fare well. The wheat flour tortillas were a let down and the dense, hearty beef chipotle filling had a subtly sweet, smoky, nutty flavour that faded far too quickly after the first bite. It didn’t help that the beef had been accompanied by sour cream, chilled vegetables and shavings of what I swear was Red Leicester cheese.

beef taco at burro burrito

beef taco at Burro Burrito

Swapping the beef for pork and apple didn’t help. The dense threads of pig had a sweet, fruity tinge but this was quickly lost amongst all the chaff.

pork and apple tacos at burro burrito

pork and apple tacos at Burro Burrito

I was surprised to find that there was more chorizo than chicken in my dual meat burrito. The chicken was rather dry, while the chorizo was mildly salty but not especially fatty. Guacamole was entirely absent, the bland black beans were mushy and an annoyingly large amount of Red Leicester cheese was present. The hastily wrapped tortilla meant there was inevitably some spillage. The oddest thing about this burrito was the excessive sugary sweetness that was very out of place.

chicken and chorizo burrito at burro burrito

chicken and chorizo burrito at Burro Burrito

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £4-6

Average price per burrito: £6

Chilango

Chilango is one of The Euro Hedgie’s favourite places to grab a lunchtime burrito and it’s not hard to see why. The pork burrito at both the Chancery Lane and Islington branches uses fatty, tender pieces of pork belly. There’s no crisp crackling, which would be too much to expect, but this is still nonetheless one of most satisfying pig fillings in a burrito that I’ve come across. The black beans left me non-plussed, the hot sauce was more tart and vinegarish than spicy and the burrito as a whole is on the small side. Still, the ratio of rice and meat was roughly equal and the smooth guacamole was very creamy.

pork belly burrito at chilango

pork belly burrito at Chilango

The pork belly was even better in the tacos at the Islington branch. The crisp, fatty, lightly caramelised chunks of pig went down a treat when paired with the face numbingly hot spicy sauce – a dab of refreshing sour cream would’ve been a good idea. The beef tacos were very good too – moist chunks of cow with a surprisingly woody, grassy taste. The only sour note was the wheat flour tortillas.

pork belly and beef tacos at chilango

pork belly and beef tacos at Chilango

Chilango is one of the few places I’ve visited to offer a prawn burrito and while it’s not bad, it unsurprisingly can’t quite match the fatty eloquence of of the pork belly version. Although the portion of firm and slightly smoky prawns was reasonably generous, it was still outweighed by the rice. A touch of sweetness came from the grilled, slightly squishy peppers and onions, the smooth creamy guacamole and the rosé-coloured cream. Overall though, it tasted a little on the bland side.

prawn burrito at chilango

prawn burrito at Chilango

Horchata isn’t available, but a good substitute is a fizzy Mexican soft drink called Jarritos. The mandarin flavour is my favourite since it tastes like a fizzy version of Calpol (we all have our guilty pleasures).

Rating:  ★★★★☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Average price per burrito: £6

Chilango on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Chimi’s

Chimi’s may appear to be a scrappy young upstart, but it’s actually owned by the same company behind the Prezzo chain of Italian restaurants. No matter who owns this Tottenham Court Road diner, the pork burrito wasn’t very impressive. The soft mushy pork was dressed in a sweet, slightly smoky BBQ-style sauce that had probably been squeezed out of a bottle. There was some mildly hot, tingly spicy sauce, but little guacamole with most of the flavour coming from the sweetness of the sautéed bell peppers and onions. Although there was roughly equal servings of rice and meat, this was a rather small burrito that was sloppily, flimsily wrapped.

pork burrito at chimis

A pork burrito from Chimi’s.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £6

Chipotle

Like Cantina Laredo, Chipotle is a US-based chain. Unlike Cantina Lardo, Chipotle has more than just one branch in London – mostly because it’s not as unremittingly awful as its more upmarket rival. That’s not to say that it’s perfect however – the pork burrito at the Wardour Street Soho branch used fatty, slightly fruity sweet chunks of pig but there was far more rice than pork. At least the rice itself was fluffy, large-grained and moderately zesty. The sloppy, leaky wrapping, bland guacamole and unremarkable pinto beans stewed with pork left me unimpressed though.

pork burrito at chipotle

pork burrito at Chipotle

The spicy sauce used in the pork burrito was very tame, but it had clearly been reformulated when I returned to try out the tacos. It was far more fiery, packing quite a punch. The pork was oddly different though – far leaner with a zestier tinge to it. The chicken filling was moist and herby, but the beef was very dry and tough and only just edible. Sadly, all of the tacos used wheat flour tortillas and the staff will offer to stuff each taco with every filling at their disposable unless you stop them.

pork taco at chipotle

pork taco at Chipotle

chicken taco at chipotle

chicken taco at Chipotle

beef taco at chipotle

beef taco at Chipotle

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £7

Average price per burrito: £7

Chipotle Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

El Burrito

El Burrito is a small take-away and diner spin-off of Mestizo, a restaurant which otherwise doesn’t serve burritos at all. El Burrito’s burritos are noticeably smaller than any of the others reviewed in this round-up, so you may need two. This is largely due to the significantly reduced rice content, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as the kitchen have concentrated instead on some quality fillings.

The shredded chicken in the chicken burrito, for example, is coated in a sweet, musky mole sauce that’s full of flavour. It’s not quite as complex as the exceptional mole used in the chicken tacos at Mestizo, but it’s still very satisfying. The tart, fiery jalapeños, fresh, crisp vegetables, tightly-wrapped tortilla and tear-inducing hot sauce are all to be lauded too.

chicken mole burrito at el burrito

chicken mole burrito at El Burrito

The cochinita pork filling isn’t quite as successful as the chicken mole, but it’s still quite good with moist chunks of tangy and mildly sweet pork. The hot sauce wasn’t quite as potent as before, but it was still fiery.

cochinita pork burrito at el burrito

cochinita pork burrito at El Burrito

A good way of combatting the hot sweats brought on by the fiery hot sauce is to down a cup of the horchata. Milky, starchy and refreshing, my only complaint is that the serving is a bit too small and stingy.

horchata at el burrito

horchata at El Burrito

El Burrito has a selection of tacos available at dinner time, but they’re not as accomplished as the ones available at Mestizo. The fish tacos used crisp, battered chunks of anonymous white fish, although they are at least free of excess oil. The mixed vegetable tacos filled with celery, peppers, courgettes, mushrooms and carrots was competently done, but didn’t present any surprises and tasted exactly as you’d expect.

roast vegetable burrito at el burrito

roast celery, pepper, courgette, mushroom & carrot taco at El Burrito

fish taco at el burrito

fish taco at El Burrito

The most successful taco I sampled was the pork al pastor version, but even here it wasn’t as boldly flavoured as I expected. The pork was rather anonymous, letting the sweet, slightly acidic chunks of pineapple taking centre stage.

pork al pastor taco at el burrito

pork al pastor taco at El Burrito

Rating: ★★★★☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £2

Average price per portion of tacos: £4.50

El Burrito on Urbanspoon

El Mexicana

Spanish-speaking linguistic pedants will probably point out that ‘El Mexicana’ is grammatically incorrect. The bigger problem is that the food at this small Bloomsbury diner is, at best, crushingly average. The chicken tinga burrito was filled with mildly fruity chunks of tomato-ish tasting chicken, bland guacamole and a moderately nutty smearing of refried pinto beans. The slapdash wrapping inevitably resulted in the moderately hot sauce dribbling out all over the place.

chicken burrito at el mexicana

chicken burrito at El Mexicana

The tacos sadly used wheat flour tortillas. Filled with shredded beef, the dense strands of cow had an initial hit of smokiness but this faded quickly. The overflowing filling was otherwise identical to that of the burrito, but the hot sauce was much milder this time around.

beef tacos at el mexicana

beef tacos at El Mexicana

In an unexpected surprise, the churros weren’t a complete disaster. Although not especially buttery or fluffy on the inside, the outside was evenly crisp, oil-free and topped with a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar. It’s best to opt for the dulce de leche sauce instead of the chocolate though – neither are great but the dulce de leche is nominally less bland than the chocolate.

churros with chocolate sauce at el mexicana

churros with chocolate sauce at El Mexicana

churros with dulce de leche sauce at el mexicana

churros with dulce de leche sauce at El Mexicana

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Average price per burrito: £6

Flying Burrito

This three-branch, City-based mini-chain is absolutely crammed at lunchtime, but I fail to see why. The pork tacos do use reasonably fluffy and nutty corn tortillas, but the meat itself, while tender, is bland. The black beans were salty, but the guacamole was watery and the tomato salad on the side was clearly an afterthought and the hot sauce was only moderately spicy at best.

pork tacos at flying burrito

pork tacos at flying burrito

Unusually, Flying Burrito not only has a veggie burrito option but it’s also allegedly dressed in a mole sauce. There’s certainly plenty of sweet potato, corn and black beans which outweighs the rice, but there’s bugger all mole and the guacamole was as watery as ever.  The predominant taste was one of sweetness. Annoyingly, although the tortilla appears to be tightly wrapped, the bottom quickly becomes soggy, eventually breaking apart and spilling veg everywhere.

mole vegetable burrito at flying burrito

mole vegetable burrito at Flying Burrito

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Average price per burrito: £6

The Flying Burrito on Urbanspoon

La Catrina

La Catrina is located inside the same space at the Shoreditch Boxpark pop-up mall previously occupied by Mexway (see immediately below). The pork burrito was filled with more rice than meat, but there was still enough pork. It was a little dry, but it was still very palatable thanks to its firm bite and earthy, slightly sweet flavour. There wasn’t much to be said about the black beans and there was very little guacamole. The hot sauce did produce a tingly, numbing sensation though while the tightly wrapped tortilla meant there was only minimal spillage.

pork burrito at la catrina

pork burrito at La Catrina

La Catrina does use corn flour tortillas, but the roughly seven to eight inch versions used in my chicken tacos were far too big and thin. They quickly became soaked through from all the fillings and collapsed, producing one hell of a mess. There was far too much lettuce and cooked tomatoes and the guacamole and black beans failed to impress. The dense and tender stewed chunks of tangy, earthy beef was a far tastier taco filling than the flavourless mush that was passed off as chicken.

chicken and beef tacos at la catrina

chicken and beef tacos at La Catrina

Rating:  ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6-7

Average price per burrito: £6-7

La Catrina on Urbanspoon

Mexway

Formerly located in the Shoreditch Boxpark, Mexway is now located in the chav ghetto known as Croydon. Although Mexway’s chicken tacos were just as overloaded as La Catrina’s, the muted corn tortillas didn’t become soggy and break apart. The firm and sweet tomatoes nicely balanced out the tingly heat of the spicy sauce, but the chicken itself was just soft mush.

chicken tacos at mexway

chicken tacos at Mexway

The pork used in the pork burrito wasn’t as soft, but it was just as bland. The rice had a surprising buttery taste to it and the punchy spicy sauce and vegetables from the tacos made a repeat appearance here. The guacamole was both overly smooth and tasteless, but the tortilla was very tightly wrapped with no spillage.

pork burrito at mexway

pork burrito at Mexway

The horchata wasn’t bad, but it was a little too watery and too heavily flavoured with cinnamon for my liking.

horchata at mexway

horchata at Mexway

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Average price per burrito: £6

Mexway on Urbanspoon

Picante Grill

Located on a random side street in between Westminster and Belgravia, Picante Grill can be tricky to find. It was hard to tell if the tortillas used in the tacos were of the wheat or corn flour variety. Although thick with a slightly uneven texture like a corn tortilla, it tasted much more like a bland wheat flour tortilla. In any case the shredded beef filling was too dry, but at least it was hearty with slight woody, grassy hints to it. The dressing of jalapenos, coriander and onion didn’t leave much of an impression though. The sticky tomato rice on the side was an unnecessary afterthought, but the black turtle beans were tender with a gentle saltiness.

beef tacos at picante grill

beef tacos at Picante Grill

Picante’s pork burrito was more impressive. The hearty meat was subtly woody and smoky and while the hot sauce wasn’t spicy, it did add an earthy muskiness to the meat. There was far more pork than rice, but the dull pinto beans might as well as not have been there.

pork burrito at picante grill

pork burrito at Picante Grill

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Average price per burrito: £6.50

Picante Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Poncho No 8

There are three branches of Poncho No 8 with the St Paul’s outpost located in a sunless nook not far from the cathedral. Despite its inauspicious location, the place was packed during my weekday lunchtime visit. The pork tacos consisted of wheat flour tortillas filled with vaguely tomato-flavoured strands of moist pork. The smooth guacamole and timid hot sauce were tasteless, with a lot of the flavour and heat coming the jalapeños. There was far too much lettuce and black beans, most of which ended up toppling out of the over burdened tortillas.

pork tacos at poncho no 8

pork tacos at Poncho No 8

A small amount of sauce managed to leak out from my otherwise well-wrapped chicken burrito. Although bland, the chunks of chicken were moist and firm, outnumbering the sweet, tomato flavoured rice. The coriander, vegetables and smooth, tasteless guacamole added little with most of the flavour coming from the moderately spicy hot sauce.

chicken burrito at poncho no 8

chicken burrito at Poncho No 8

Poncho No 8’s horchata was a disappointingly watery drink that tasted mostly of cinnamon.

horchata at poncho no 8

horchata at Poncho No 8

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6.30

Average price per burrito: £6.30

Poncho 8 on Urbanspoon

Tortilla

The normally trustworthy readers of Zagat must have had a collective and momentary brain spasm as they’ve rated the average Tortilla as the best Mexican restaurant in London. To be fair, I sampled the fare at the Oxford Circus branch rather than the Southwark location favoured by Zagat readers but then, as a chain, there shouldn’t be that much difference between branches.

The chicken tacos were served up in very nutty corn flour tortillas, but the meat itself was very dry and bland. It was saved only by the hot sauce which, while not very spicy, was very garlicky, woody and smoky.

chicken tacos at tortilla

chicken tacos at Tortilla

The same hot sauce made an appearance in the pork burrito. It was much needed as the strands of pork, while very hearty, were also quite dry. Although smooth, the guacamole was very creamy while the black beans were firm and salty. Some sloppy tortilla wrapping did mean the hot sauce dribbled all over the place though.

pork burrito at tortilla

Naming a Mexican eatery ‘Tortilla’ is like naming a sandwich shop ‘Baps’.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £4.30

Average price per burrito: £6

Tortilla -Market Place on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Market stalls and food trucks

Ambriento

Ambriento is a little different from the vast majority of the other eateries here. Unlike a Tex-Mex restaurant, this market stall doesn’t pretend to serve up traditional Mexican food, instead serving up tacos with fillings inspired by other cuisines. All of the tacos I tried still used fluffy, nutty corn flour tortillas but each one was filled to overflowing so having plenty of napkins to hand is a must.

The first taco came filled with hearty, meaty chunks of southern fried chicken. Free of excess oil, each chunk was coated in a thick yet crispy batter but paired with some rather bland mayonnaise and generic vegetable filler.

southern fried chicken taco at ambriento

southern fried chicken taco from Ambriento

The kimchi pork taco was even better – the tender yet meaty strands of pig went down a treat with all the tart and refreshing pickled vegetables. These were much more flavoursome then the rather tame kimchi, making this taco seem more like a Vietnamese banh mi-inspired morsel than a Korean one.

kimchi pork taco at ambriento

kimchi pork taco from Ambriento

The least successful taco was the vegetarian, allegedly all-aubergine option. Although the moist eggplant chunks were buttery and not overcooked so that they had just the right amount of firmness, there wasn’t nearly enough of it with this taco mostly dominated with sweetcorn filler. Surprisingly, this taco proved to be the spiciest of the lot with a moderately fiery chilli sauce that seemed at odds with what little aubergine there was.

aubergine taco at ambriento

aubergine taco from Ambriento

Rating: ★★★★☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £5

Buen Provecho

Even for a market stall, Buen Provecho can sometimes be a little hard to find with only infrequent appearances outside of its usual south of the river, Waterloo-ish pitch. It’s well worth it though as Buen Provecho cooks up some of the best tacos I’ve tried in London.

All of the tacos use proper corn flour tortillas and lots of crisp, tart pickled onions as a garnish. The chicken variant used tender chunks of meat that had a great depth of flavour – sweet, tangy and nutty with a dry chilli heat thrown in for good measure. The pork taco was just as good with the moist yet firm strands of pig blessed with a subtle smokiness that went well with the sweet hints of orange.

chicken taco at buen provencho

chicken taco from Buen Provencho

pork taco at buen provencho

pork taco from Buen Provencho

The rather bitty slivers of meat in the beef taco was disappointing, but what it lacked in texture it more than made up for in taste. The marinade had frankly ridiculous levels of flavour – distinctly but not overpoweringly sweet, smoky and herby all at the same time.

beef taco at buen provencho

beef taco from Buen Provencho

Rating: ★★★★★

Average price per portion of tacos: £5-6

Buen Provecho on Urbanspoon

Daddy Donkey

Daddy Donkey may be ‘just’ a market stall, but it’s a slick, well-oiled operation based out of a massive well-equipped trailer on Leather Lane, just off High Holborn, with another location promised soon. The pork burrito wasn’t bad, but it’s hardly deserving of the uncritical praise it’s received elsewhere. The tightly wrapped tortilla gives way to reveal firm, tomato-flavoured chunks of pork joined by salty, tender black beans and creamy guacamole. The guacamole is a touch too smooth and overly processed and the ‘extra hot’ spicy sauce is merely ticklish, but overall it’s a decent enough burrito.

pork burrito at daddy donkey

pork burrito from Daddy Donkey

The hot sauce had clearly received some much needed attention when I came back for the tacos though. It was much more potent, complimenting the moist, fruity strands of shredded beef filling nicely. The chicken was rather dry, but it was fruity, musky and a little earthy which was very pleasing. The steak was fruity and peppery which made the slightly chewy chunks more palatable. The wheat flour tortillas and the excessive amount of lettuce and limp jalapeños were disappointing though.

tacos at daddy donkey

tacos from Daddy Donkey

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Average price per burrito: £6

Daddy Donkey on Urbanspoon

Freebird

Although Freebird has a small take-away outlet near Liverpool Street station, it’s better known for its four market stalls located mostly in the West End so I’ve included it here with all the other market stalls and food trucks.

The pork burrito served up by the Berwick Street market stall was tightly wrapped with the meat dressed in a fruity, slightly acidic but ultimately rather mild hot sauce. The creamy guacamole and the firm, earthy, nutty refried pinto beans were pleasing. There was an even balance between the rice and the meat but the pork itself was disappointingly dry, bland and bitty.

pork burrito at freebird

pork burrito from Freebird

At the time of writing only the Liverpool Street take-away outlet currently serves tacos, with the market stalls due to start serving them soon. They’re nothing to get excited about though. Although the shredded beef taco was sensibly made with the staff not attempting to overstuff the wheat flour tortilla, the dense chunk of beef was flavoured with a generic supermarket-quality sweet and smoky ‘barbecue’ sauce. The smudge of guacamole and scattering of lettuce and tomatoes added little.

shredded beef taco at freebird

shredded beef taco at Freebird

The Liverpool Street location also serves up some burrito fillings not available at the market stands. The beef brisket option is a relatively good approximation of proper American-style barbecue beef brisket, but while peppery, smoky and reasonably hearty it didn’t have the same tender fatty moistness as the very best barbecue beef brisket. The tortilla was clumsily wrapped though and the bland guacamole didn’t impress. There was at least more meat than rice and the hot sauce had a tingly numbing effect.

beef brisket burrito from freebird

beef brisket burrito from Freebird

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Average price per burrito: £6

Kimchinary

A fresh and sprightly newcomer to London’s street food markets, Kimchinary is run by a warm and chatty Swede who serves up Korean-inspired tacos. Ambriento already does something similar, but Kimchinary is arguably more successful. All of the tacos I tried used soft, fluffy corn flour tortillas whose natural nuttiness was enhanced by a choice scattering of sesame seeds.

The meat in the ox cheek tacos took on the form of dense, salty cubes that weren’t quite as moreish as the moister, more delicate ox cheek strands used by Santo, but they’re still very satisfying and complimented well by the tart, mildly spicy kimchi.

ox cheek korean tacos from kimchinary

ox cheek Korean tacos from Kimchinary

The pork belly tacos used cubes of pork layered with seams of moist fat which resembled pancetta in a way. The layers of pork fat made these tacos more hearty, but also arguably less interesting than its ox cheek counterpart.

pork belly korean tacos from kimchinary

pork belly Korean tacos from Kimchinary

One problem suffered by both tacos was the ton of pickled vegetables and sweet mayonnaise. Although a lip smacking compliment to either the ox cheek or the pork belly fillings, the moistness of it all made the tortillas soggy and caused them to break apart which made quite a mess.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £5

Luardos

Luardos is instantly recognisable at whatever street market it turns up to thanks to its distinctive pink and blue vans. Although the medium rare steak used in Luardo’s tacos weren’t especially flavoursome, the thin slices of beef were very tender. The creamy, chunky guacamole contrasted nicely with the fiery chilli sauce, while the thick, nutty corn tortillas held everything together perfectly.

steak tacos from luardos

steak tacos from Luardos

Although I wasn’t fond of the rather bland, uninteresting pork used in Luardo’s pork burrito, it was very tightly wrapped with only minimal leakage, the same good quality guacamole and spicy sauce was used and the ratio of rice and meat was evenly balanced.

pork burrito from luardos

pork burrito from Luardos

Rating: ★★★★☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £5.50

Average price per burrito: £6-7

Luardos on Urbanspoon

Santana Grill

Santana Grill allegedly serves both tacos and burritos, but the former weren’t available during either of my visits to this market stall. The meat used in the pork burrito was firm and moist, but most of the flavour came from the sweet, refreshing tomato, lettuce and red cabbage accompaniment and the hot sauce. Although only moderately zingy, it was also earthy and musky. The entire package was tightly wrapped with very little leakage.

pork burrito from santana grill

pork burrito from Santana Grill

The tortilla wasn’t as skilfully wrapped when I tried the chicken and chorizo burrito, with some of the hot sauce dribbling out. Like the pork burrito there was an even balance of meat and rice, but the meat filling was mostly dominated by firm cubes of chicken with the smooth but rather bland chorizo taking a back seat. The chicken had a sweet smoky flavour though with the salty black beans complimenting the meat well, while the zingy spicy sauce was noticeably hotter than before albeit at the cost of the earthy muskiness from before. There was little guacamole, with the heat of the spicy sauce counterbalanced instead by the crisp, refreshing vegetables.

chicken and chorizo burrito from santana grill

chicken and chorizo burrito from Santana Grill

Rating: ★★★★☆

Average price per burrito: £6

Taco Stand

The Taco Stand may have one of the most unoriginal names here, but it also serves up some of the most interesting tacos I’ve tried although they’re not all totally successful. The menu changes fairly frequently, but on my first visit the vegetarian option was a fairly unusual combination of black beans and feta cheese. It wasn’t all that it could’ve been though. Although the salty, hearty yet tender beans hit the spot, the feta was too bitty and sparse to leave much of an impression.

black bean and feta taco from the taco stand

black bean and feta taco from The Taco Stand

The beef taco was filled with meat that was a touch too dry, but it was also dense and woody. It was complimented well by the sweetness of the tomato-flavoured sour cream – a fruity flourish that makes sour cream much more palatable for me. I wasn’t impressed by the mushiness of the meat in the pork taco, but it was saved by its zingy flavour and the mild zestiness of the lime and coriander flavoured sour cream. All of the tacos used nutty corn flour tortillas which were clearly and lovingly hand made judging from their uneven edges.

pork taco from the taco stand

pork taco from the Taco Stand

beef taco from the taco stand

beef taco from The Taco Stand

The Taco Stand has also started selling burritos, but the beef and chorizo variety I tried felt rough compared to the tacos. The loosely wrapped tortilla meant that there was some spillage of the filling. There was more rice than meat, but the rice was dressed in a zesty, milky sour cream that was pleasing. The saltiness of the smooth chorizo was complimented well by the fruity sweetness of the beef. The hot sauce was tame and there wasn’t an option for guacamole, but the tart pickled onions was all that was needed to enhance the flavours of both the chorizo and the beef.

beef and chorizo burrito from the taco stand

beef and chorizo burrito from The Taco Stand

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £4

Average price per burrito: £5

The Taco Stand on Urbanspoon

Take-aways

Amigos

If you’re looking for somewhere sleek and sexy to get your fix of Mexican food, then Amigos definitely isn’t it. From the gruff service to the spartan shopfront, Amigos oozes the kind of glamour previously reserved for charity shops. Still, I can’t expect too much from a takeaway on Holloway Road in the unfashionable part of Islington.

Surprisingly, the pork taco filling came wrapped in corn flour tortillas although the initial nutty hit faded quickly on subsequent mouthfuls. Despite the addition of rice, the tortilla held everything together with very little spillage. Although dense, the pork itself was rather dry with most the moisture and taste coming instead from the smooth but bland guacamole and the earthy, tingly hot sauce.

pork tacos from amigos

pork tacos from Amigos

The overly dry meat was clearly a trend with the large chunks of poultry in the securely wrapped chicken burrito sharing the same problem. There was at least more chicken than rice and the larger squirt of earthy hot sauce proved to be eye-wateringly spicy. The bland guacamole and token amount of vegetables did little to cool things down – a dollop of sour cream would probably be a good idea.

chicken burrito from amigos

chicken burrito from Amigos

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £5-6

Average price per burrito: £6.50

Amigos on Urbanspoon

Bar Burrito

Despite its name Bar Burrito isn’t a bar, but a lunch place and take away. Most of this chain’s branches are located up North with the only London branch located in Paddington station.

The pork burrito is only worth getting if you need sustenance for a long train journey or can’t face the even worse culinary options at Heathrow. The pork had a slight woody flavour, but it was very dry and bitty and was bland enough that it could’ve been almost any other meat. There was more rice than meat, the guacamole was tasteless and there weren’t enough beans to leave much of an impression. The ‘extra hot’ spicy sauce only had a mild tingly numbing effect and some of the sauce managed to dribble out due to the slightly slapdash wrapping. Unimpressive.

pork burrito from bar burrito

pork burrito at Bar Burrito

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £5-6

Mexican Express

Situated near some fashionably gritty drinking spots in Hoxton and Shoreditch, Mexican Express has some suitably late opening hours. Sadly, the quality of the food will only appeal to the drunken, gastronomically indiscriminate wolf packs that I try to avoid on a Saturday night.

There wasn’t a lot of guacamole in the chicken tacos and the hot sauce was nothing of the sort, but the chunks of rather dry chicken did have a certain butteriness to them. The wheat flour tortillas tasted of little, but did an adequate job of holding everything together.

chicken taco from mexican express

chicken taco from Mexican Express

The tender stands of pig used in the pork burrito were reasonably moist but also quite bland with most of the taste coming from the sweet, tomato-flavoured rice. As with the chicken tacos, there was sod all guacamole and the hot sauce might as well have been ketchup for all the heat it contained.

pork burrito at mexican express

pork burrito at Mexican Express

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £2.50

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Mexican Express on Urbanspoon

Mi Casa

If there’s anywhere even less glamorous than either Amigos or Mexican Express to grab a bite, then it has to be Mi Casa. Located near the Gatwick Express gates at Victoria Station, this takeaway outlet is operated by SSP UK which sounds like it should be making drones and artillery emplacements than operating ‘travel concessions’ as the company describes Mi Casa.

Sadly, you’d have to be a very hurried and harried commuter to find any joy in Mi Casa’s rather small burritos. If I squinted, I could just about discern the difference between the flavourless mush of pork and the greasy smear of refried beans as the two were almost indistinguishable in my mouth. The limp lettuce and dreary guacamole were even less impressive. At least the spicy sauce actually packed a zesty, chilli punch and the tortilla was snugly wrapped with only a few drops of sauce dribbling out.

pork burrito from mi casa

pork burrito from Mi Casa

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £7

Tacolisa

Despite its name, Tacolisa’s expertly wrapped and rice-less staples bore more of a resemblance to the rice-lite burritos found at El Burrito then to any of the other tacos reviewed here. Snug as a bug inside the wheat flour tortilla was some tender but bland braised beef livened up by some mildly tingly hot sauce. The unremarkable vegetables added little and the whole thing was a little on the small side, so if you are tempted by these Croydon consumables then it’d be a good idea to order two.

braised beef burrito from tacolisa

braised beef taco from Tacolisa

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion: £5-6.25

Wrap It Up

I didn’t have high hopes for this franchised chain and its ‘world gourmet wraps’. The grande chicken burrito served up by the branch near Charing Cross and the Embankment neatly fulfilled my low expectations. The surprisingly small burrito was filled mostly with rice and some rather limp, anonymous vegetables and beans. The chunks of chicken were reasonably firm with a peppery, buttery taste and a mild, tingly heat. There was no option for sour cream or guacamole, but at least the whole package was securely wrapped with almost no leakage.

wrap it up chicken burrito

chicken burrito from Wrap It Up

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £5-6

Wrap it Up! Villiers on Urbanspoon

Miscellaneous

L’Autre

If there’s anything more bizarre than a Polish-Mexican restaurant like L’Autre, then it’s the fact that there’s a second such mash-up eatery in Hammersmith (Robin Hood, reviewed below). The strangeness at L’Autre continues to the cosily small interior which, with its timbered walls and red velour seating, looks like a hastily converted pub.

There are only a few half-hearted attempts at fusion cuisine on the menu, with most of the dishes coming instead from the Tex-Mex tradition and what I think is fairly traditional Polish food. An example of the latter would be my starter of fried kielbasa pork and beef sausages. The slices of smooth, moderately fatty and slightly peppery sausages weren’t bad, but not especially remarkable either. The sweet fried onions and mild mustard made this dish resemble a bread-free hot dog on a plate.

l'autre beef and pork kielbasa

beef and pork Polish kielbasa sausage at L’Autre

The chicken burrito was the least offensive Tex-Mex style burrito that I’ve tried. Although I wasn’t fond of the tricolour sauces daubed on top of the burrito, the guacamole was at least reasonably coarse and zesty while the tomato sauce actually tasted of peeled, stewed tomatoes. The reasonably firm chunks of buttery chicken inside the snugly wrapped tortilla weren’t too shoddy either, while the fresh tomato and cucumber side salad was dressed in a sweet vinaigrette. If you’re going to insist on having a Tex-Mex style burrito then it might as well be this one.

chicken burrito at l'autre

Why does a Polish-Mexican restaurant have a French name? Because it’s in Mayfair?

I made the mistake of ordering the Polish-style cheesecake which turned out to be heartstoppingly huge. This dense, hearty wedge-shaped slab was large enough to keep a garage door open. It was mildly creamy, very stodgy and made me feel very bloated.

polish cheesecake at l'autre

It’s not a cheesecake, it’s a doorstop.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £13

L'Autre on Urbanspoon

Barrio Central

I really, really wanted to hate Barrio Central. This bar jut off Oxford Street managed to bring out the curmudgeonly old codger hiding inside of me. The opening times are non-sensical and erratic, the bartender ignored me, the place was cramped, the hard seating numbed my butt cheeks and I couldn’t stand the groups of giggling girls who could shriek at an ear-bleeding volume louder than a baby alarmed at being eaten by a dingo.

The food, annoyingly, was surprisingly good. Although I would’ve preferred my steak taco filling cooked medium rare, the well-done slices of beef were tender with a slight fruity acidity to them and served in nutty corn tortillas. The spicy sauce was limp though and the green salad on the side seemed like an afterthought.

steak tacos from barrio central

steak tacos from Barrio Central

Although Barrio’s pork burrito was similarly lacking in spicy heat, the hearty portion of tender, peppery and moist pork was larger than the serving of rice. There was some leakage from the hastily wrapped tortilla though and the green salad side was basic, but it was at least fresh, served at room temperature and drizzled with lemon juice.

pork burrito from barrio central

pork burrito from Barrio Central

If you’re a non-drinker, don’t be tempted to order the pineapple agua fresca. Even as overpriced, watered down fruit juices go, this one is ridiculously charged at a cheeky fiver.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Average price per burrito: £8

Barrio Central on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Bombay Burrito

Even if I was avoiding some of London’s more gimmicky burritos and tacos in this round-up (and I’m not), I couldn’t ignore Bombay Burrito which serves up Indian-inspired fillings inside its tortillas. Choose your meat and how hot you want your curry sauce. I opted for lightly smoky chunks of chicken tikka and the hottest curry sauce available which turned out to be only mildly spicy. Although the chicken was paired with sweet, charred onions and what I’m pretty sure was bay leaf and kaffir lime, the burrito as a whole was surprisingly low key with the flavours not quite as bold as I was expecting from an Indian burrito. It’s still pleasing enough, although I do wonder whether using more traditional Indian breads, such as a roti or naan, would’ve produced better results.

chicken spicy hot burrito at bombay burrito

chicken spicy hot burrito at Bombay Burrito

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per burrito: £6

Bombay Burrito on Urbanspoon

Cafe Bebek

Cafe Bebek serves up an extensive menu of lunchtime dishes besides burritos, including jacket potatoes, sandwiches and even some rather limp, overcooked lahmacun (or Turkish pizzas). However, judging from the ‘for lease’ sign above the door, Cafe Bebek probably doesn’t have much time left in its current form and it’s not hard to see why after taking a bite of the chicken burrito.

The sloppy wrapping leads to large chunks of bland, rubbery chicken spilling out. There’s just slightly more chicken than rice, which was surprisingly fluffy. A mildly spicy sauce is present, but most of the heat comes from the jalapeños. The garlicky mayonnaise and carrots dominated this burrito though, lending it an almost Middle Eastern-ish flair but that flair wasn’t enough to rescue a startlingly bad example of lunchtime cafe overreach.

chicken burrito from cafe bebek

chicken burrito from Cafe Bebek

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £5

Comboco

Comboco is a lunchtime salad bar that has, for some inexplicable reason, branched out into selling burritos. This salad bar heritage is evident from the pork burrito which the staff will fill with almost every conceivable type of salad unless you tell them to stop. The moist, honey-sweet pork, bell peppers, roasted onions, sweet corn and cherry tomatoes all made this burrito taste very sweet, but the sweet chilli sauce also packed a surprising amount of spicy heat. Although there was very little guacamole and no beans that I could taste, the staff did find room to chuck in a few potato chunks. Despite the cornucopia of fillings, the snugly wrapped tortilla held together surprisingly well. It’s pretty good as a salad wrap, but it’s a non-starter as a burrito.

pork burrito from cocombo

pork burrito from Cocombo

While the pork burrito is an acceptable oddity, the mango-flavoured bubble tea is an inexcusable abomination. The small serving of luminescent liquid tasted like stale Fanta. The bubble pearls weren’t made out of tapioca, but out of some thin, brittle, sugary material instead. Should’ve had a Diet Coke instead.

bubble tea from cocombo

bubble tea from Cocombo

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £6

The Diner

Breakfast burritos are still something of a rarity in London. The Diner branch in Soho does one, but I wasn’t expecting much following their dismal flat white and tepid burger. An uninspiring slag heap of tomato and cheese-flecked scramble eggs was joined by some salty and juicy slices of chorizo. The chorizo bits were few and far between though so there was little variation in taste or texture when chowing down through this breakfast burrito. The tortilla was wrapped reasonably tightly, but some chorizo juice did manage to seep out.

Some soft, mildly peppery black beans were served on the side as was some guacamole. The latter was smooth and heavily processed though with bitty pieces of avocado floating about in an overdose of lemon juice.

breakfast burrito from the diner

breakfast burrito from The Diner

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £7.20

Square Meal

Mildred’s

Soho would be a bit of a wasteland for vegetarians if it wasn’t for a handful of veggie restaurants such as the long established Mildred’s. I’m not sure who Mildred is, but her veggie burrito is an uninspiring dish. Served wet, the tomato sauce and cheese wasn’t too overpowering and added an extra layer of sweetness and creaminess, but I could still have done without it. The somewhat stodgy and overbaked tortilla contained some rice that was outnumbered by a large serving of lightly salty black beans that had just the right amount of firmness. There wasn’t any spicy sauce while the guacamole made up for its overprocessed smoothness with a large dash of zestiness.

mildred's vegetable burrito

Mildred’s vegetable burrito

It wasn’t too bad overall, but Mildred’s veggie burrito felt like a missed opportunity – an extra variety or two of beans or perhaps some squash or potatoes would have livened up an otherwise comparatively bland burrito that only confirms the worst fears of dim-witted carnivores.

mildred's vegetarian burrito

Mildred’s vegetarian burrito

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per burrito: £10.25

Mildred's on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Robin Hood (aka Robin Hood Zorro)

The only thing weirder than Robin Hood’s Polish-Mexican menu is the restaurant’s bright and bizarre murals depicting the parallel lives of Robin Hood and Zorro culminating in a centerpiece where the two have a dual with model weapons mounted onto the wall.

robin hood decor

Nothing says Pol-Mex food like Robin Hood vs Zorro. Wait, what?

Unlike the similar L’Autre in Mayfair, Robin Hood doesn’t make attempt at fusing together Polish and Mexican food preferring to keep them apart. The pierogi or Polish dumplings were oddly dressed in oil and garnished with bacon and fried onions. Of the three varieties available, the sauerkraut and mushroom one was my favourite due to the tart sauerkraut. The bland and stodgy cottage cheese filling didn’t sit well with me, while the ominous ‘meat’ version had the texture of tinned tuna and the taste of cheap sausages.

robin hood polish dumplings

pierogi polish dumplings at Robin Hood

Robin Hood’s pork burrito was an odd and ultimately rather lame dish. The baked tortilla had a crispy underside, but the top was soggy due to the sweet tomato sauce, sour cream and smooth, slightly salty guacamole. Inside were some cubes of pork in a sauce that bore of a resemblance to cheap gravy than anything Mexican – naturally it had no spicy heat whatsoever. The side salad dressed in olive oil wasn’t too bad, but I could have done without the bland, stodgy rice flecked with overcooked vegetables.

robin hood burrito

They ate these in Sherwood Forest when times got tough.

pork burrito at robin hood

pork burrito at Robin Hood

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £9

Robin Hood Zorro on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Tacuba

Even though it’s a glorified bar, Tacuba doesn’t accept credit cards. I wasn’t fond of the garish red lighting or the wobbly service which ranged from attentive to wilfully oblivious. There are just 27 covers which tend to be filled on weekends quite quickly. Oddly, burritos are only available for takeaway or delivery, but my lack of a nearby safe house meant I had to settle for the dine-in only taco menu.

All of the tacos used corn flour tortillas, but their nuttiness was rather muted. The tingly, fiery hot sauce made up for this to a certain degree though. The king prawns were rather limp and livened up only by its coriander dressing and the hot sauce.

prawn tacos from tacuba

prawn tacos from Tacuba

After that unpromising start, things picked up. The dense chunks of pork loin in the pork tacos had a sharp, fruity acidity that was very pleasing. Even better were the cactus tacos – the sweet, squidgy slices of cactus weren’t drowned out by the ill-advised accompaniment of heavily refrigerated tomatoes.

pork taco from tacuba

pork taco from Tacuba

cactus tacos from tacuba

cactus tacos from Tacuba

Although the portion of churros was a bit miserly, it did taste surprisingly good. Crispy on the inside and soft, fluffy and free of excess oil on the inside, although the dulce de leche sauce was too milky and the mediocre vanilla ice cream was a tacked-on afterthought.

churros at tacuba

churros at Tacuba

Rating: ★★★★☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £5

Tacuba on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Whole Foods (Piccadilly Circus)

Whole Foods is a US supermarket chain with a reputation for selling overpriced organic groceries to arm chair liberals and moneyed foreign students. This is of course unfair – they sell plenty of food to fuzzy hippies too. The Piccadilly branch has a large chunk of its ground floor dedicated to various take-out counters, but the pork burrito was unexceptional.

Although the pork was reasonably firm and mildly peppery, it was a bit too dry and rather bland overall. The tingly heat of the spicy sauce and the saltiness of the firm black beans was counterbalanced nicely by the fresh, sweet tomatoes and coriander. Although a bit too smooth, the guacamole was sweet, zesty and creamy. The rice looked more like quinoa and outnumbered the meat. There was some leakage of hot sauce due to the slapdash wrapping, but it wasn’t too bad.

pork burrito from whole foods

pork burrito from Whole Foods

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Average price per burrito: £6

Tex-Mex restaurants

Cafe Mexicali

If you wanted to spite yourself and your stomach, then Cafe Mexicali is the place for you. Smothered wet by default, the tortilla breaks apart to reveal some moist but bland chicken served with equally uninteresting bell pepper and onion slices. Served on the side was a portion of mushy but reasonably nutty pinto beans and some smooth, tasteless guacamole. The only way to liven up this dull excuse for a burrito was to slather multiple servings of the ‘hot’ sauce over the burrito until a mild, cumulative spiciness collected on my tongue.

chicken burrito at cafe mexicali

chicken burrito at Cafe Mexicali

The burrito was a touch on the small side, but don’t be tempted to order the onion rings to fill that hole. Although free from excess oil, the reconstitute mash of onion underneath the thin, limp batter wasn’t worth the calories.

onion rings from cafe mexicali

onion rings from Cafe Mexicali

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £11

Chico Bandito

The service at Chico Bandito can be a two-sided thing. My actual waitress was friendly and efficient. The maître d’, on the other hand, pointedly tried to ignore my existence before wearily deciding that he would seat me.

chicken burrito at chico bandito

chicken burrito at Chico Bandito

As expected the wet chicken burrito tasted mostly of the excessively sweet cheese and tomato sauce layered on top of the tough tortilla. The mushy meat and salty guacamole were unimpressive, while the odd salad consisted mostly of chickpeas, sweet corn and onions. It’s a sad burrito when its accompanying side salad was more interesting.

chico bandito's chicken burrito

Chico Bandito’s chicken burrito

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £11

Chico Bandito on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Chiquito

The Leicester Square branch of Chiquito, previously known as Chi Chi’s, has been there for as long as I can remember. It’s had a few facelifts in its time, outlasting other Leicester Square stalwarts such as the grotty old Man Fu Kung Chinese restaurant (now a grotty Yate’s) and the ugly old Swiss Centre (now an even uglier W Hotel). I have no doubt that in the inevitable post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland, mutant cockroaches will get their fix of shoddy Tex-Mex food from the Leicester Square Chiquito.

Nothing I’ve ever eaten has been as shoddy and insulting as the deplorable chicken tacos, now unsurprisingly removed from the menu. Bitty pieces of stodgy, bland chicken, some tasteless rice and a few shreds of lettuce came in a wheat flour tortilla. The only dressing was an oddly sweet sour cream. The overall effect was of a cheap supermarket-quality chicken Caesar salad scraped out of a bin and into a tortilla.

chicken tacos at chiquito

chicken tacos at Chiquito

The churros wasn’t nearly as bad as the spiteful tacos. Although the dough sticks were a touch too oily and soft, I was surprised to discover that they had a creamy cinnamon filling which not only complimented the buttery taste of the pastry but also made up for the startlingly tasteless dusting of cinnamon. The bland chocolate sauce wasn’t worth bothering with.

chiquito churros

Chiquito churros

I opted for the pork burrito on my second visit to Chiquito. As expected, the burrito was served wet, smothered with bland dollops of tomato sauce, sour cream and smooth, overly processed guacamole. Oddly, there was also a second tomato sauce that was far sweeter than the first. Inside the tightly wrapped tortilla were some unremarkable black beans and some tender, moist strands of pork. It was hard to appreciate the taste of the meat though as the stuff was slathered with an excessively sweet barbecue-style sauce.

pork burrito at chiquito

pork burrito at Chiquito

In an fit of ultimately unsurprising lack of consistency, the churros this time around were quite different compared to the version served on my first visit. These churros were less oily and crisper, but also far blander and the creamy cinnamon fillings was gone leaving a hollow centre. The chocolate dipping sauce was even worse than before with a bizarrely lumpy consistency as if the stuff had been made from partially melted Cadbury’s chocolate buttons. Vile.

churros from chiquito

churros from Chiquito

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £11

Chiquito - Leicester Square on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Desperados (N1)

There are a few Tex-Mex restaurants with the Desperados name in London with the two located in Petts Wood and Islington sharing the same owners. The most remarkable thing about the Islington Desperados isn’t the grumpy, monosyllabic service but the murals depicting demonic copulation in the gentlemen’s toilets. A case of art imitating life? I couldn’t possibly say.

desperados n1 chicken burrito

Desperados N1 chicken burrito

The chicken burrito was almost as hellish with the meat consisting of a squidgy mush interspersed with a few square pieces that weren’t any firmer. The warmed-over rice tasted like stale left overs scavenged from a student’s fridge, while the pinto beans served on the side almost resembled baked beans as they were served in a watery tomato and vegetable sauce. Although I tried to order the burrito dry, someone among the surly staff ignored my instructions. It turned out that the toppings of a sweet tomato salsa and a sharp onion-flavoured sauce were among the least offensive parts of this burrito.

desperados chicken burrito

Desperados chicken burrito

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per burrito: £9

Desperados on Urbanspoon

El Paso (Hoxton)

El Paso is the only Tex-Mex restaurant here to not have a cheesy, cliched ‘Mexican’ decor of sombreros and cacti opting instead for a look entirely fitting for its Shoreditch location. The eclectic range of reclaimed furniture and anglepoise lamps actually look quite pleasing, but the handful of postmodern art pieces should be carted back to the A-Level college they were stolen from.

El Paso’s steak burrito mostly consisted of rice with a wispy coriander flavour and some vaguely nutty black beans with no guacamole or spicy sauce at all. There tender strips of sirloin were cooked well-done, so they didn’t taste of much. Despite the cheese and tomato sauce slathered over the thick, stodgy tortilla, this burrito was exceptionally bland. It’s as if the kitchen designed it for your mother-in-law from the provinces who’s still sceptical of yoghurt, never mind Mexican food.

el paso hoxton steak burrito

El Paso Hoxton steak burrito

el paso hoxton's steak burrito

El Paso Hoxton’s steak burrito

Given the extreme lack of taste in the steak burrito, I was pleasantly surprised to discover sweet, salty chunks of fatty pork belly in the pork tacos. I could’ve done without the thick sour cream though which, along with the crisp hard shell tortillas and refrigerated slices of tomato, helped obscure the taste of the pork belly.

pork belly tacos at el paso hoxton

pork belly tacos at El Paso Hoxton

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £9

Average price per burrito: £9

El Paso on Urbanspoon

Loco Mexicano

Of all the Tex-Mex restaurants here, Loco Mexicano near Victoria Station is easily the most undignified. The maître d’ wears a poncho and sombrero, while punters drunk enough to have lost their self-respect can don cowboy hats and sombreros.

All that ridiculous get-up isn’t as offensive as the prawn and crab tacos. The fill-them-yourself hard shell tortillas were accompanied by shrimp cocktail and some drab crab that was so heavily refrigerated, it might as well have been shredded fish sticks.

prawn and crab tacos at loco mexicano

prawn and crab tacos at Loco Mexicano

Loco Mexicano does at least make one of the least repulsive Tex-Mex burritos here. Although the tortilla was stodgy and the rice was especially bland, the shredded chicken did have some firmness to it while the jalapeño slices added some heat. The overwhelmingly dominant flavour was the sweet tomato sauce smeared all over the top of the burrito.

chicken burrito at loco mexicano

chicken burrito at Loco Mexicano

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Average price per portion of tacos: £6

Average price per burrito: £11

Loco Mexicano on Urbanspoon

The Winners

If you’re looking for a great taco in London, then the best places to go are (in alphabetical order) Buen Provecho, Mestizo and Santo. These three are unrivalled when it comes to dishing out simple, but delicious tacos. Other taco purveyors that weren’t quite as impressive but still deserve an honourable mention include La Bodega Negra, Boho Mexica, Tacuba and Mex-Korean mashup market stall Kimchinary.

It’s a different story when it comes to burritos. No eatery truly impressed me, although Santo came close. If the wilds of Westbourne Grove are too far out for a good burrito, then Benito’s Hat, Chilango, Luardos and Santana Grill are also respectably good lunchtime alternatives but none of these five really captured my imagination when it came to burritos.

Ending my gut-busting Mexican tour of London on such a sour note would be a downer. Instead, I’ll give thanks – the burrito and taco scene in London is far better than it ever has been, even when compared to as recently as a year ago, and this is all down to the hard working folks at the restaurants and market stalls. They deserve our thanks and our encouragement – Mexican food in London still has some way to go, but it’s already come so, so far.

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15 thoughts on “The best burritos and tacos in London – 55 burritos, 83 tacos, 59 eateries, one verdict

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  2. Good to know there are so many places to have proper Mexican food, thanks for the compilation and review! Just to clarify, there is no way anyone in Mexico would have corn on the cob as a dessert. It is a great thing to eat, but it is just not a dessert. Is it actually advertised as such in the menu?

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  4. Great reviews & a really useful round-up – as a big fan of Mexico & mexican food it’s always very disappointing to see how bad the vast majority of places are. I’ve always known Mestizo is amazing – but I haven’t tried Santo & Buen Prrovecho so there’s two to add to my list, so thank you!

    Just one note though – It’s not correct to say Tacos should be made with corn rather than flour – in Mexico itself they are made with both, and in my experience it’s normally a regional thing. In the north of the country they are more likely to be made with flour; the further south you go corn. Admittedly the corn area is probably much bigger than the flour, but it doesn’t mean flour is inauthentic.

  5. Thank you! Very comprehensive and it is amazing that there are enough places to warrant such coverage compared to just a few years ago. However, if you need dessert after a burrito there must be something small about the burrito! :-)

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  8. Hi there I like your investigation, it is a very extensive job you done! I’m very busy my self; done a few of the mention restaurants but is always good to have an update info. Nevertheless I would like to have a chat on Mexican food at Santo we always moving forwards with recipes, thecniques, specials and our monthly Santo Dinner Club your very welcome to my kitchen.
    Fernando De la Cruz Chef/Patron

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