Although the weighty, custom-filled burritos we know and love have very little in common with their authentic northern Mexican ancestor (traditionally flour tortillas with beans, salsa and perhaps some braised beef or pork), we’re fine with that. London’s obsession for these gut-busting US style wraps filled with all manner of spiced meat, cheese, sour cream, rice and guac shows no sign of letting up. With more chains than we care to count and a burrito van at every market in town, it can be hard to sort the decent wheat tortilla from the chaff, but helpfully we’ve done the donkey work for you below.
The Carnitas burrito at Luardos is serious business, with a recipe perfected over several years. The freshly made slow cooked pork is highly spiced and given a chorizo kicker before being stuffed into a hefty 12” wrap with the usual suspects of rice, black beans, Monterey Jack, very good tomato salsa, sour cream, lettuce and fresh coriander.
It’s 50p extra for their guacamole, but it’s worth paying for — the burritos themselves are very fairly priced at around £5 anyway. Find the signature blue or pink vans at a festival or market near you.
Luardos, Kerb Camden, Brockley Market, Whitecross Street Market
Authentic Korean food and burritos may not sound like natural bedfellows, but oh wow, it turns out they are. Swede Hanna Soderlund is serving up fusion food made in heaven from her van at Kerb’s markets, and it’s making quite the splash.
Choose from slow braised bulgogi ox cheek, sesame grilled chicken or chilli aubergine and ssamjang winter greens as your main filling, along with kimchi fried rice, cheddar(!), gochujang sauce, pickled coleslaw and spring onion sour cream all rammed into a toasted Korean burrito. It works. There’s also an incredible list of tacos if that little lot wasn’t enough.
Kimchinary, Kerb Camden, Kerb Kings Cross, Kerb West India Quay
One of the best burrito chains around, with five branches in central London, a trip to Benito’s Hat for lunch will turn even the worst working day around. They operate the San Franciscan production line style of burrito stuffing, allowing you to select your choice of meaty filling (we like the chipotle infused steak) and whichever rice/bean/salad combo takes your fancy (get the spiciest salsa).
One of the few burrito purveyors that allows you to eat in, so order yourself some frozen Margaritas (pro-tip: they’re 2-for-1 between 5 and 7pm) and settle in for the ride. The freebie tortilla chips on the side are a nice touch.
Benito's Hat, Kings Cross, Covent Garden, Goodge Street, Oxford Circus and Farringdon
Over in west London, ex-street food pushers Killer Tomato are making waves with their bricks and mortar Shepherd’s Bush offering, which opened in July 2016. Burritos and tacos are innovative and excellent, with varieties like pork belly and crackling, roasted sweet potato and feta and, more recently cheeseburger tacos. All burritos come with black beans, cabbage, coriander, sour cream and for once, no rice to bulk it all out. Four humorously named hot sauces (‘Mild Is For Wimps’) allow you to customise it up, and you can add guac for £1. Beers, wines, cocktails and tequilas seal the deal.
Killer Tomato, 18 Goldhawk Road, London W12 8DH
An American ex-pat we know claims this is the best chain in London, citing its close rival Chipotle as too salty this side of the pond. She rates the grilled chicken with black beans over pinto and stuffed with all the trimmings. The coriander rice is nice, and we like that you can have a prawn burrito too, but wish their spicy salsa was spicier. Fillings are extremely generous, but so is the calorie count and dangerously, they’ll even deliver to some locations.
Chilango, nine London locations, see website
Our LA-born friend rates this as her favourite burrito place in town, and those southern Californians know what they’re talking about when it comes to Mexican food. With a gigantic menu of truly authentic dishes (think frijoles, sopa de tortilla and ceviche tostadas) you can tell Lupita is an actual Latin export, with its original tacqueria hailing from Mexico City.
The burritos are fresh, flavoursome and full of fillings like chicken tinga, pico de gallo and crème fraiche with Mexican rice. Opt for chipotle mayo for an extra layer of smokey spice (95p). They’re one of the pricier options around with most burritos coming in at just shy of £10, but the restaurants are cool and the cocktails are killer, so it’s to be expected.
Lupita, 7 Kensington High Street, W8 5NP; 13-15 Villiers Street, WC2N 6ND and 60-62 Commercial Street, E1 6LT
Having started life as a hugely successful van on Leather Lane market, Daddy Donkey now operates as a takeaway shop on the corner of the same street. The quality – and queue – remains, but service is slick and speedy allowing you to load your Daddy Donkey with a choice of carnitas, steak, chicken, shredded beef or veggies plus all the usuals for around the £6 mark (or go ‘mini’ for £1 less). As ever, guac is a grating 75p extra for a little ‘shot’, but pleasingly you can grab a Corona whilst you’re there.
Daddy Donkey, 50b Leather Lane, London EC1N 7TP
Another KERB and StreetFest regular, Club Mexicana are fresh from the San Francisco foodie scene and are peddling their exceptional sunshine-filled burritos, tacos and nachos at a London location near you. Their (big) burritos are packed with BBQ pulled jackfruit, slow cooked chipotle beans with hibiscus molasses, guacamole (no extra charge!), pink pickled onions, salted chillies, ancho chilli sauce, fresh lime and coriander with a few different fillings on rotation. Oh, and did we mention they’re all completely vegan? Tempeh chorizo with chipotle cashew ‘cheese’, or their sour ‘cream’ are the only way you’d know. Also gluten free.
Club Mexicana, Model Market Lewisham, Hawker House Canada Water and various, see website for details
This is the only Mexican restaurant that a Mexican friend of ours rates. The cooking here is almost exactly like home-style food at home, apparently. Thrillingly it happens to have the largest tequila bar in all of Europe, with 200+ to work your way through. There’s a good party vibe here and we can contest that the margaritas are a tremendous accompaniment to their colourful burritos with a choice of nine main fillings (get the famous mole or cochinita – pork, achiote, orange).
They are committed to showing off Mexican cuisine here and have lots of different celebration weeks and festivals at any one time – it’s currently Margarita Festival, but look out for Chile Festival and Mole Festival — and they go all out for Day of the Dead.
Mestizo, 103 Hampstead Road, London NW1 3EL