Around 2016, it was declared that London was in the midst of a “taco revolution.” It was big and inaccurate talk. And yet, the reasoning behind it was somehow understandable. More than a revolution, it was simply the case that suddenly London had options for tacos, where all that had existed before were one or two standouts or the sub-par chain restaurant offerings that fed into a wildly inaccurate perception of Mexican food as “a blunt object... all mushed avocado and chilli and vinegary notes, wrapped up in flatbreads with ambitions above their station.” While LA, or even New York still has nothing to fear by way of competition, London’s newcomers have brought a nuanced look at what Mexican food means today and focus on quality that has helped to make things at least a little better.Read More
The 10 Best Places to Eat Tacos in London
From Surrey Quays to London Fields, here’s where to get al pastor, barbacoa, baja fish — and more
1. Homies On Donkeys
London E17, UK
Homies on Donkeys is a diminutive five-seat stall in E17’s Wood Street Indoor Market that regularly attracts long queues of devotees waiting to takeaway their fresh tortillas. There’s a range of options from slow-cooked meats to seafood and vegetarian tacos, but the pro tip is the pork butt taco; served on a blue corn tortilla, with pickled red onions, which was once declared the “best taco in the city.”
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2. Del74 Dalston
Dedicated to “honest Mexican food made with love,” Del74 is London’s self-anointed “rockin’est taco bar”. Having closed its spiritual home in Clapton, the Dalston branch endures with tacos that tick all the right boxes — including a seriously good vegan “veggie tinga,” cooked in a smokey chipotle chilli, topped with crispy sweet potato — but it’s the happy hour (£2 tacos, £5 margaritas) that’s the real hook in “normal times.”
3. Sonora Taquería
This homage to the food of Sonora, in northern Mexico, has one key advantage on all its competitors: It makes the best tortillas in London. Previously piled with grilled chicken in the guise of Pollo Feliz, Sonora Taquería offers barbacoa, carne con chile, and chile verde on its puffed, sturdily delicate tortillas enriched with lard, goose fat, or vegetable oil. London’s taco slingers have a new standard to reach.
4. Breddos Tacos Restaurant
Breddos is one of London’s more successful street food-to-storefront converts; it began in east London’s Netil Market selling beef short-rib tacos that, before long, were harder to get hold of than Hamilton tickets. It now has the original restaurant in Clerkenwell and Super Tacos concessions at Market Hallse, plying what Marina O’Loughlin described as a “mad, chaotic fusion” driven by “a kind of ferocious creativity.” That means tacos with toppings like aged onglet steak, miso and bone marrow butter, and grelot onion crema, or fish tacos with cabbage, habanero and lime mayonnaise.
Westbourne Grove’s Taqueria is, in many ways, the old hand of this list. Opened in 2005 as the brick-and-mortar evolution of a popular Portobello Road market stall, it’s also the restaurant arm of Cool Chile Co., a company founded in 1993 to import dried chillies from Mexico that has since evolved into a respected wholesaler of handmade tortillas and imported Mexican ingredients. So the pedigree is there, and so is the quality: tacos range from traditional al pastor and carnitas to others topped with milanesa (the south-American interpretation of the Italian cotoletta) or fried plantain. Soon to open in Exmouth Market, too.
6. Tacos Padre
London SE1 9AG, UK
Nicholas Fitzgerald’s new stand in Borough Market’s buzzing new kitchen has offered some interesting specials since opening — a rich, lime-tinged pozole; a huitlacoche quesadilla. The tortillas, fillings, and salsas cover bases with aplomb, carne asada a strong suit set off by atypically grilled shallots, and it should get even better as things bed in. A solid start.
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7. Santo Remedio
The SE1 evolution of a much-loved (and short-lived) Shoreditch icon, the new Santo Remedio picks up where its predecessor left off, with the notable addition of a new charcoal grill. That means the same vibrant tacos (here soft shelled crab, pork belly, or beef barbacoa), with liberal application of accompanying delights like tomatillo salsas, pickles, serrano mayo, and others, alongside a range of options cooked al carbón, like octopus with achiote and pineapple pico di gallo, or ox tongue with pasilla pipián rojo and roasted peanuts.
8. Tortilleria El Pastor
London SE1 3NY, UK
There are two more El Pastor sites in the city, in Borough Market and Coal Drops Yard, but with the tortilleria having reopened as a taco stand, it makes sense to go straight to the source. The corn tortillas and taco al pastor are both commendable, and salsas are available to go alongside the tortillas to take home. Open Friday — Sunday, evening only at the end of the working week and then afternoons too on the weekend, for takeaway.
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9. La Chingada Mexican Food
Walter Opitz’s Surrey Quays taqueria is his personal slice of Mexico City, a community space that just happens to serve some of, if not the best tacos in the city without feeling the need to refract them through another culinary lens. Suadero — brisket confit until supine and jabbed awake by white onion and coriander — is the move, with Sunday specials including lamb birria, a rich, chile-tinged stew with melting meat in its depths.
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10. Bake Street
The tacos at this Evering Road favourite have gone through a few iterations — borrowing corn tortillas from fellow entrant La Chingada, or taking the breakfast route with migas. Now, baker Chloe-Rose Crabtree is pressing the tortillas, birria is a mainstay, and a tribute to Los Angeles’ Roy Choi’s kogi taco, filled with Korean barbecue short rib, takes top billing.