London's Mexican Explosion

Chilango Burrito

Almost anywhere you go in Central London, Mexican restaurants are popping up faster then Mexican jumping beans. And this, for those of us who love a break for the border, is explosively great news.

Names such as Benitos Hat, Mas Burritos, Chipotle, Chiquito (in Leicester Square), and Tortilla (which has just opened its fifth branch in London) have been seen in locations such as Embankment, Angel, Fleet Street, Bankside, Leadenhall Market, and especially Covent Garden.

Why such an explosion of openings now? Could it be due to the growing popularity of Mexican food, and the fact that it is cheap, cheerful, good value for your money, and delicious? A typical meal at one of these eat-and-go Mexican restaurants will cost you no more then a tenner. For that you can have either a big meat burrito or three tacos with a side of guacamole and chips - and a drink (but probably not a margarita).

Jennifer Aniston announced recently that she plans to open up her own Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles because, she said, "The best and must fun meals take place over a Mexican meal." I agree 100%.

If you happen to be in Covent Garden within a few blocks of the piazza, there are quite a few Mexican options, including Cafe Pacifico, which has been there for what seems like 100 years and is always rammed with tourists and after work Londoners looking to slug back a few margaritas after a hard day of work. Just around the corner is the more upscale Cantina Laredo, where the food is delicately prepared and the atmosphere is classy and cool. Most Londoners swear by Wahaca, where they serve Mexican-style tapas (but when I eat Mexican I don't want to share my food, so this place is not for me). If you want to splash out on an excellent Mexican meal, try Mestizo near Warren Street, where the food is authentic and so is the staff.

Fast Food Mexican restaurants are your best bet for a quick, cheap meal. Places like the Benitos Hat, Chipotle, Chiquito and Tortilla, as well as Chilango, make it easy. Walk up to the counter, order your food, watch it be prepared, pay, and enjoy.

Sure beats getting ripped off by a 'chain' restaurant, and even more so, it sure beats eating at McDonald's.

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