Forget burritos. Ditch the nachos. And don’t even think about quesadillas. For 2017 there’s only one Mexican food trend to be seen taking a bite out of – we’re talking tacos. From pop-ups, to streetfood stalls and dedicated taquerias London is having a serious taco takeover, a tacover? And it’s even outstripping Britain’s burger bonanza. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of Mexican restaurants grew by 71% overtaking the posh burger obsession for the first time. Meanwhile, Waitrose reported shoppers searching for Mexican recipes on their site was up 867% in 2016 and in the past month three taco restaurants have opened in London.
So why is the capital crushing on these little corn tortillas? Whereas most diaries used to be filled with cheap midweek pizza and Cava nights or burgers and beer dates, we’re now scheduling in Taqueria Thursdays. Tacos pretty much sum up the Whatsapp gen – shareable, quick to eat and relatively cheap - most prices start at around two tacos for £6. And of course, just like Tinder there’s something for everyone with their many different topping options. From smoky pulled pork, to spicy chipolte beef and even cheeseburger here’s our top three taquerias to get your fix….
Starting out as a makeshift taco shack in a Hackney car-park in 2011, founders Nud Dudhia and Chris Whitney have since gone on to host numerous pop-ups and residencies, become a regular at Dinerama in Shoreditch, write a book and most recently set up a permanment taqueria in Clerkenwell. Big on flavour, they take a traditional corn tortilla then top it with non-trad fillings, think smoked sweet potato and crunchy nut sweetbreads. While their baja fish taco with a zingy lime mayo is totally moreish.
Split across two floors, downstairs you’ll find a dive bar, upstairs a taqueria, Bad Sports TV is seriously vibey. Start at the bar, where you can sip punchy negronis, to 90s hip hop or get tipsy on margaritas with an anchovy kick. Weird but it works. Yes there’s a TV showing American sports – we’re talking NBA and NFL games, but don’t let that put you off, it’s more decoration than focus with the sound muted and the crowd much more beards and beanies than jersey jerks. Once you’ve built up an appetite head back upstairs for seriously good tacos. Must orders include crispy chicken thigh with a sweet pecan mole (a traditional Mexican sauce) and the slightly bonkers but brilliant American cheeseburger.
From the founders of Quo Vadis and Barrafina, El Pastor only opened in December but has quickly built up a bit of cult following. Under an archway in Borough market, they serve up both blue and yellow varities, which they mill on site each day. Highlights include the ‘al pastor,’ 24 hour marinated pork smothered in carmelized pineapple and also a smoky chicken that comes with kick of chipotle and cumin.