Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Mexican food, specifically burritos (I know, they're not technically Mexican but you know what I mean.) I have been on a never-ending quest to find a serviceable burrito in London, ever since I moved here two and a half years ago. Recently, I tweeted my dismay that Chipotle are opening their first UK store this week. Chipotle are literally the McDonald's of burritos and while I admire their iphone app, you can get MUCH better burritos in London. On the back of my tweet, I received several messages from people asking me to share my London burrito recommendations. So, without further ado, the best (and worst) burritos in London: 1) Chilango (Islington) - My personal favourite for a number of reasons. Chilango has 2 locations in London and a few more scattered across the UK. Started by a former technologist, the Chilango team have put massive amounts of time and energy into bringing a solid burrito experience to the UK. They go on regular research trips to Mexico and the US to hone their already excellent burrito recipes. Never ones to compromise on quality, I've heard co-founder Erik (@chilango_uk) rant about the availability of fresh produce that meets his exacting standards. Free refills and good salsas are the cherries on top of what I think is the best burrito experience in London. They've also nailed their customer service platform and are genuinely passionate about engaging with their customers. After all, they did host the UK's first burrito eating competition!
From a Qype review: "My chicken burrito was tasty and well made, and my wife clearly enjoyed her carnitas burrito. Rounded off with chips and salsa fresca and it was well worth the trek. Best burrito I’ve had in London to date."
2) Benito's Hat (Fitzrovia) - a close runner up behind Chilango, Benito's Hat in Fitzrovia puts together a very solid burrito. If you're looking for a food coma, this is the place to go. Their slow-cooked meat is truly excellent (try the pork), and the burritos are stuffed to bursting with meat, rice, beans, sour cream, etc etc. Their salsas (of varying potency) are excellent too and it's nice to find Monterey Jack cheese on this side of the pond. Reasonably priced, my only criticism is that there's very little space to sit down so your best bet is to get your burrito "to go" - just make sure you have a wheel barrow handy to get it home. Oh and they also deliver - nice touch.
From a Qype review: "The burritos are so good here that my husband ate lunch AND dinner here last weekend...and I was so jealous."
3) Freebird (Soho) - If you can judge the quality of an eatery by the queue at lunchtime then Freebird should have a couple of Michelin stars. This is literally a stall in Soho that serves up some truly excellent burritos. Made right in front of you, like Chilango and Benito's Hat, there's not a whole heap of choices to make when deciding on fillings but what you get is incredibly tasty and fresh and really excellent value for money. Their salsas are excellent and the meat marinades are perfectly spiced.
From a Qype review: "Having been born and raised in Southern California, this is one of the very few places in London that reminds me of a genuine Taqueria. The flavour and freshness of the ingredients, and the spiciness of the salsa makes this an excellent burrito!"
4) Daddy Donkey - Another stall-based operation, Daddy Donkey doesn't mess around with its burritos. Operating since 2005, a fellow American calls this his favourite burrito place outside of the US…but he's from the East Coast so what does he know about Mexican food (sorry, Chris!). Seriously though, Daddy Donkey serve up gut-busing, intensely flavourful burritos with a smile - these guys are clearly passionate about burritos. Don't be put off by the inevitable massive queue, it moves quickly and is worth the wait.
From a Qype review: "As fine a burrito as you shall find in London, jam-packed with more juicy Mexcan succulence than Salma Hayek's t-shirt."
And the worst….
1) Tortilla (Fitzrovia) - Ugh. I'd like to share part of a previous review I wrote about this place: "Have any of you ever seen that episode of the Simpsons when Marge develops a gambling problem and Homer has to make dinner which consists of cloves, Tom Collins mix and pre-made pie crust? Remember his face when he takes that first bite? Yeah...that was me when I bit into this burrito. The pork seasoning was just....wrong. Like really wrong. It had flavor alright but it was like chipotle gone wrong, horribly wrong. I thought it might have been a one-off so I ploughed through but no, the taste remained throughout. Carnitas are supposed to be toasty and warm with subtle flavors that let the braised pork shine through. Not with this one though, no sir. It should be noted that I went through what must have been 10 napkins while eating this thing. It wasn't well put together and the watered-down ingredients destroyed the tortilla within minutes." Now, in Tortilla's defence, after reading my review they sent me a very nice email apologising for my experience and inviting me to meet with them about how they can improve. I admire that. They also have free refills and reasonable prices but that doesn't make up for a weak product. Avoid until they sort their product out.
From a Qype review: "Until something drastic happens I'm resigned to a fifteen minute walk to get some 'proper' Mexican food."
2) Wahaca (Covent Garden) - Oh suppress your audible gasps, I'm serious about this one. Wahaca was one of the first Mexican joints I tried in London and it just put me in a bad mood. It's so typical of many London restaurants these days, "interpreting" types of cuisine with bland an uninteresting results. It’s what you would expect a winner of Masterchef to interpret Mexican food as (which is exactly what it is). My steak burrito had cabbage and pickled onions in it…..who the hell do they think they are? To their credit, the wait staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and the food is clearly fresh. But it's not Mexican food and I wouldn't go out of way to go there, let alone wait in the ridiculous lines that seems to form there.
From a Qype review: "My problem with Wahaca is that the food is just underwhelming. There are some fantastic Mexican places in this city, and Wahaca can’t compete with them."