London’s best: burrito
Meat, rice, flour tortilla, cheese and spicy salsa – all things that I enjoy and some of the key ingredients to a good burrito. My first burrito experience came in 2005 from a fairly dodgy looking ‘burrito shack’ outside of an even dodgier nightclub on the mean streets of Swindon and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. But with all things great there are also disappointments; when I made a special trip back to Swindon for a burrito the shack had closed down and I was left empty handed. Ever since moving to London I’ve been looking for a burrito, as good as those Swindon ones and I’ll be letting you in on my quest here.
My test is simple:
- steak burrito
- no guacamole
- hot sauce
- to go (I’m not eating a burrito with a knife and fork fool)
I’m not going to be using a points system here as all I’m worried about is finding the best one out there. I’ll be looking for one not short on filling, with a tasty well-seasoned steak, fresh salad and a nice hot sauce (that supplements the taste, not ruins it). I’ve no idea how long this will take me but I’m sure it’ll be a tasty journey!
I think I’m coming close to finishing my quest – the top 2 to 6 are pretty interchangeable so might need a bit of further research to get the exact run down. Anyone know any else?!
Is there anywhere else that you think warrants a visit? If so then please leave in the comments (once I have fixed them).
56 Goodge St, London W1T 4NB
020 7637 3732 and www.benitos-hat.com
Cost: £6 (with a handful of tortilla chips)
A generously sized burrito with good ingredients and nicely marinated steak. Always well wrapped (no leakages) and a nice spicy salsa that doesn’t blow your head off but one that you know is there.
114-116 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0JR
020 7836 8491 and www.chipotle.com
Another close winner but not quite on the Benitos Hat offering. Best hot sauce of the lot and nice pinto beans (with added bacon). Rather small chunks of steak but nice and tasty steak regardless of that.
27 Upper Street, London N1 0PN
020 7704 2123 and www.chilango.co.uk
Very close to a new number 1 but misses out by a fraction. You can taste all the ingredients and all are fresh. Hot sauce not mind-blowing but stays with you for the duration of the meal and little bit more. Nice grilled steak a pleasure to eat down. Looks a bit small but is nicely filling.
Whitecross Street Market, London EC1Y 8QJ
020 7527 1761 and twitter.com/Luardos
A tough call this one but a new entry into the top 5! Slightly charred tortilla gave an extra smokey taste teamed up with a selection of hot sauces that gave it a really nice tang. Nearly lost marks on being poorly wrapped though. Tip – get plenty of napkins!
Wahaca Mexican Street Kitchen (Southbank)
Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX
020 7928 1876 and http://www.wahaca.co.uk/html/1_restaurantvan.html
I’ve never been the biggest fan of the burritos sold in their restaurants but the ones sold out of their food vans are a very different thing! All the ingredients brought their own taste and texture to the dish (especially the rice) with not a hint of blandness to be seen. Slight down-mark for a hot-sauce that I think could be knocked up a few notches but other than that a great addition to the London burrito scene; I hope it sticks around.
106 Southwark Street, London SE1 0TA
0207 620 0285 and www.tortilla.co.uk
Cost: £6.25 (large burrito)
A big surprise. I didn’t expect to like this one too much but it was big, meaty and the sauce lingered nicely after the last bite. Very nice rich pinto beans and a good few spoonfuls of steak. A bit messy to eat though…
Pitches 100-101 Leather Lane Market, London EC1N 7TE
020 7267 6042 and www.daddydonkey.co.uk
Nice hot sauce that left a nice tingle for minutes after the final mouthful, tasty steak and a nice dollop of sour cream to cool the chili heat. Very tasty but felt a bit meager on the proportion front. Their new picadillo and breakfast burritos (served 7.30am to 11am) are rather fine though.
87 High Holborn, London WC1V 6NU
0207 404 6976 and www.adobomexican.com
Hottest chilli sauce by a mile and a tasty non-American style cheese. Lack of proper steak (only had shredded beef) and a poorly wrapped roll which lead to spillage provided minus marks though.
62 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EZ
0207 650 8858 and www.theflyingburrito.co.uk
Disappointingly unspicey but nice tasting salsa with nicely braised beef (not steak). Addition of cactus salsa a nice addition but couldn’t make me think it was anything else than just “OK”. Wild boar burrito on offer sounded interesting though…
3-4 Ludgate Broadway, London EC4V 6DU
Another burrito in the OK range. The beef was tender enough to bite through and not have to resort dragging huge chunks of it out at a time and the rice had enough coriander in it to provide a nice fresh taste when combined with the tomato salsa. Hot sauce disappointed and was a bit runny so it wasn’t the easiest eat.
5 Charlotte Place, London W1T 1SF
(020) 7387 4064 and www.mestizomx.com/ElBurrito.html
Rather different to the other burritos I have had in London in a number of ways. Not wrapped in foil, though happily wrapped tighter than the effort from El Camion so still eatable by hands and a hot sauce consisting mainly of onions and provided a welcome change to the more saucy offerings from everywhere else while still providing a good chilli kick.
Exmouth Market, London EC1R 3EA
Just a bit average really. Rather tame hot sauce but nice tender steak and well wrapped so absolutely no chance of spilling and wastage. Also a good price at only £5, though maybe it could be said you get what you pay for…
Poncho number 8
5 Steward Street, London E1 6AJ
0207 247 2008 and www.poncho8.com/
Rather chewy steak that were rather tough to chew through without pulling the entire piece out. Bit of work needed on the hot sauce to make it taste less vinegary. A nice size and well wrapped.
Westfield London Shopping Centre, London W12 7GE
020 8749 8222 and www.nineteenten.co.uk
When I saw it being wrapped I was a but worried that it would fall to pieces and unfortunately that’s just what happened. The steak was actually pretty nice and juicy but the cheese tasted a bit rubbery, and seemed to be held all in one piece near the bottom. Sour cream to chilli sauce ration was rather out of kilter with far too much cream taking away any taste from the hot sauce.
Paddington Station, London W2 1RH
0207 262 7770 and http://www.barburrito.co.uk
A very dry but very reasonably sized burrito – pretty dry grilled steak and far too much brown rice soaking up whatever moisture that was being provided by the sauce and sour cream. The impressively named ‘mule drivers’ hot sauce didn’t hit the right spots. Nothing about it was nasty but equally nothing was that great either.
Picante Mexican Grill
18 Greencoat Row, London SW1P 1PQ
020 7834 0027 and www.picantemexicangrill.co.uk/
A very full burrito but unfortunately stuffed full of lettuce and beans opposed to meat, cheese or rice and marked down because of that. The chili sauce doesn’t start off to special but it’s a slow burner; at the last bite I could feel the heat and it had a nice smokey taste to go with the spice.
Victoria Station, London SW1W 9SJ
Some nice touches – raw red onion and a squeeze of fresh lime providing a bit of additional intensity but unfortunately the main ingredients of meat and beans were pour and rather unfresh and it felt like rather a thin burrito for the hefty price tag. Guac included in the price though, which at least is something…
171 Holloway Road, London N7 8LX
0207 7007 111 and www.amigos.co.uk/
A burrito that came with a very generous serving of meat but in doing so the whole burrito experience was rather lost; the minute amount of additional ingredients made it taste a bit more like a Mexican style kebab than a proper burrito. Hot sauce packed a good punch mind.
123 City Road, London EC1V 1JB
0845 544 0315 and mexican-express.co.uk/
A very cheesy burrito – probably because of the fact that I was charged extra for it (only allowed 1 of cheese or sour cream in the advertised price) and could have done with a bit more meat to go with that. Very soggy pinto beans which tasted like they watered down the chilli sauce which was weak enough already. Rather expensive to.
13-15 Villiers Street, London WC2N 6ND
020 7930 5355 and www.lupita.co.uk/
Another restaurant who also are happy to promote their takeaways offerings at unfortunately eat-in prices. The burrito was OK and they avoided excess leakage by grilling it as it wasn’t delivered in foil like a normal take-away. Of course with it being grilled people could argue if it was now actually a burrito, but that is not for here! Was also charged extra for hot sauce (though did get guac for free).
12 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8HG
020 7242 7622 and www.masburritos.com
Whack. Chewy steak, flavourless cheese (and they used two varieties), a hot sauce that was unnoticeable and even worse a gnarled up chill stalk waiting for me at the bottom. Must try harder!
17 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5RD
020 7336 0679 and www.burritobros.co.uk
Mushy beans (possibly processed) and bland beef – not even steak! All the ingredients kinda melded into one giving it a rather mushy pate like texture. They were playing some good tunes and had National Lampoon’s Christmas playing on a screen downstairs though…
10 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DU
020 7278 2011 and www.burritocafe.co.uk/
Certainly a very generous burrito, when they say large they mean it. Unfortunately the amount of ingredients packed in there meant that there was no room for the ingredients to mix together meaning a number of bites containing just chilli and lettuce. A very dry burrito with even the chilli sauce lacking juice, indeed less but better ingredients would be a big improvement.
10 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9RG
020 8673 5394 and www.tacubabar.com
Rather tasteless. Don’t think much if any hot sauce was added and there seemed to only be rice at the bottom, as well as meat. Probably 60% beans and not that nice a flavour of bean either, they tasted like they might have been from a can.
25 – 27 Brewer Street, London W1F 0RR
020 7734 7711 and www.elcamion.co.uk/El_Camion_Mexicano.html
DISQUALIFIED. I think in reality this place is first and foremost a restaurant but they advertise their take-away menu and they should do better. A ‘burrito’ served in a tray with rice and lettuce on the side. Couldn’t pick it up as it wasn’t tightly wrapped. Meat was actually very nice but this was not a proper take-away burrito!
Wrap it Up
166-170 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4LX
020 7650 8998 and www.wrapitup.co.uk/
DISQUALIFIED I don’t class this as a steak, or even the promised beef burrito. Tender pieces of meat were here substituted for a flavourless slop of ‘chilli con carne’ which due to it’s consistency leaked out of the wrap before I had even taken a first bite. The homemade Jamaican fiery chilli sauce didn’t provide any heat what so ever and the same could be said for a guac (which was included in the price).