Haute Living lets you in on the top five places for memorable Mexican fare in London
1 Cantina Laredo
There aren’t many gourmet Mexican options in London which perhaps explains the perennial popularity of Cantina Laredo (the St Martin’s Lane haunt is always busy). For a bit of stomach lining, start with a Cevice Acapulco – a generous (you won’t leave this restaurant hungry!) serving of scallops, tiger prawns and fresh fish, before moving onto mains and trying traditional dishes such as Spiced pork tamales. Authentic desserts include churros (fried dough dusted with sugar) and tequila lime cheesecake. The décor doesn’t dazzle, but the food is good and staff are bright, chatty and vivacious.
10 Upper St Martin's Lane, St Martin's Courtyard, WC2
2 Crazy Homies
A hugely popular hangout, the atmosphere at Tom Conran’s Crazy Homies is bright and warm, enticing you to hang around for hours. Fortunately staff are friendly, rather than frosty, and have no objection to you lingering around to sip a Margarita or Michelada (a Mexican beer with citrus juices, salt and seasoning), while perusing the menu. Feast on oversized burritos and quesadillas as well as hearty, wholesome salads, but be sure to save room for the house speciality: churros (crunchy cinnamon doughnuts served with a rich chocolate dipping sauce). The heavenly, homely cooking is complemented by the fun, kitsch interior.
125 Westbourne Park Road, W2
3 La Bodega Negra
Don’t be fooled by the neon sign outside which reads ‘sex shop’. Once inside Will Ricker's dark, basement bar cum restaurant, you’ll find a welcoming little slice of Mexico in the heart of Soho. The cooking is competent - we’ve enjoyed Pollo al sarten (half roasted chicken, pumpkin seed mole and roast potatoes), the quinoa salad and various tacos and tostadas. However food isn’t the reason you head to this so hip it hurts speak-easy. You come here to preen and be seen, for the party like atmosphere and the charismatic staff who seem as happy to be there as you.
16 Moor Street, W1D
The salubrious Taqueria is fast becoming Haute Living’s top choice for Mexican food in London. At lunch time, it’s a chilled drop in centre (ideal for families) while evenings get more buzzy. Food consists of generous portions of Mexican staples – think quesadillas and refried beans – that are worth any wait involved. Ditch the diet and finish with the Platanos con cajeta – fried plantain, ice cream, cajeta (goats milk toffee) and toasted almonds. Staff are pleasant and easy going, and there’s also a small selection of Mexican goods - we love the habanero hot sauce - for sale at the entrance.
139-143 Westbourne Grove, W1
Wahaca – which sells itself as an upmarket street food purveyor – has carved out a niche for itself, in the capital. As well as the original Covent Garden outpost, there are also branches in Canary Wharf, Charlotte Street, Islington, Soho, South Bank and, our favourite, St Paul’s, among others. Owner Thomasina Miers claims to draw her inspiration from Oaxaca’s awesome Cas Oaxaca restaurant. Unfortunately there’s nothing especially authentic about the food – quesadillas, burritos and Platos Fuertes all feature and are tasty if uninspired – but nonetheless it continues to delight, with its winning alliance of crowd and character. The bottom line? If you’re yearning for genuine Mexican food, take a taxi to Tacqueria but for a lively night out, Wahaca won’t disappoint.
Wahaca St.Paul's, First floor, One New Change, EC2