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Four tacos al pastor with two salsas, one light green and one deep orange, at La Chingada, one of London’s best new restaurants La Chingada [Official Photo]

The Best Places to Eat Tacos in London

From Surrey Quays to Walthamstow, here’s where to get al pastor, barbacoa, baja fish — and more

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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.

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Homies On Donkeys

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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.”

Tacos Padre

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Nicholas Fitzgerald’s 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 a meticulously prepared salsa macha.

Santo Remedio

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The SE1 evolution of a much-loved (and short-lived) Shoreditch icon, the Bermondsey Santo Remedio serves 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. Now back in Shoreditch with a second, more casual site.

Bake Street

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The tacos at this Evering Road favourite have gone through a few iterations. Initially borrowing corn tortillas from fellow entrant La Chingada, its offering has only improved over a year of baker Chloe-Rose Crabtree pressing the tortillas in house. As for fillings, birria is a mainstay, while the new “croque señor” made with lamb ham, béchamel, cheese, and a house habanero salsa is the next hit in waiting. Please note: these tacos are not currently available, but are set to return in May 2022.

La Chingada Mexican Food

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Now at bigger premises close to its original location, 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. Now open round the corner in

Eating Kol’s tacos requires submitting to a canny, interesting tasting menu that draws heavily on Santiago Lastra’s time at Noma Mexico: the idea that time and place (here, London, or more accurately for its ingredients, Britain) is what has bearing on cuisine. The social media stars are the lobster taco course, and the octopus centrepiece, but the real hit is going for the “carnitas”: slow-cooked pig cheek, tossed with herbs and hidden in a pot under a glass-like pig skin like ice on a lake. With corn tortillas, a pear and gooseberry salsa, and beans cooked with seaweed, it’s as satisfying as it is intriguing: a quality where many tasting menus fall short.

The Quarter Kitchen

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Max Fishman, owner of the Quarter Store wine shop and provisioner on Mare Street, has installed chef Rodrigo Cervantes, originally from Mexico City but who has recently cut his teeth at a raft of London’s hottest restaurants, including Smoking Goat, Koya, and Rita’s. The result is a breakfast taco of charred salsa roja, a hash brown, fried egg and four rashers of good smoked bacon glazed with maple syrup and sugar; a breakfast burrito to fortify any morning, and come lunch, gorditas.

Mexa @ Arcade Food Hall

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With hit taco stand Sonora currently closed while finding a new site, Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier have turned their attention away from the former’s home region of Mexico with this opening in central London. Birria is here, but the real draws are Sinaloa-style ceviche, piled on top of a fried corn tortilla for a tostada, and the suadero and carnitas tacos.

Homies On Donkeys

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.”

Tacos Padre

Nicholas Fitzgerald’s 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 a meticulously prepared salsa macha.

Santo Remedio

The SE1 evolution of a much-loved (and short-lived) Shoreditch icon, the Bermondsey Santo Remedio serves 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. Now back in Shoreditch with a second, more casual site.

Bake Street

The tacos at this Evering Road favourite have gone through a few iterations. Initially borrowing corn tortillas from fellow entrant La Chingada, its offering has only improved over a year of baker Chloe-Rose Crabtree pressing the tortillas in house. As for fillings, birria is a mainstay, while the new “croque señor” made with lamb ham, béchamel, cheese, and a house habanero salsa is the next hit in waiting. Please note: these tacos are not currently available, but are set to return in May 2022.

La Chingada Mexican Food

Now at bigger premises close to its original location, 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. Now open round the corner in

KOL

Eating Kol’s tacos requires submitting to a canny, interesting tasting menu that draws heavily on Santiago Lastra’s time at Noma Mexico: the idea that time and place (here, London, or more accurately for its ingredients, Britain) is what has bearing on cuisine. The social media stars are the lobster taco course, and the octopus centrepiece, but the real hit is going for the “carnitas”: slow-cooked pig cheek, tossed with herbs and hidden in a pot under a glass-like pig skin like ice on a lake. With corn tortillas, a pear and gooseberry salsa, and beans cooked with seaweed, it’s as satisfying as it is intriguing: a quality where many tasting menus fall short.

The Quarter Kitchen

Max Fishman, owner of the Quarter Store wine shop and provisioner on Mare Street, has installed chef Rodrigo Cervantes, originally from Mexico City but who has recently cut his teeth at a raft of London’s hottest restaurants, including Smoking Goat, Koya, and Rita’s. The result is a breakfast taco of charred salsa roja, a hash brown, fried egg and four rashers of good smoked bacon glazed with maple syrup and sugar; a breakfast burrito to fortify any morning, and come lunch, gorditas.

Mexa @ Arcade Food Hall

With hit taco stand Sonora currently closed while finding a new site, Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier have turned their attention away from the former’s home region of Mexico with this opening in central London. Birria is here, but the real draws are Sinaloa-style ceviche, piled on top of a fried corn tortilla for a tostada, and the suadero and carnitas tacos.

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