When Mexican cuisine made its rise in northeast USA, I fell in love. I could eat Mexican food for every meal for the rest of my life.
Now that I live in Edinburgh, it has been my mission to find good Mexican food. It's been quite a challenge but here's what I can say about the places I've been...
*Since I am quite biased about Mexican food because of what I'm used to in the States, I've asked my boyfriend to give his review as well. I'm a small eater and he's a big eater who loves burritos so hopefully this helps!
£ — I want something quick and cheap.
Edinburgh tries to make up for Chipotle with:
1. BARBURRITO (PREVIOUSLY named PINTO)
119 Lothian Road & 6 Shandwick Place
Burritos: £5.50-8.25 Tacos: (2 crispy or soft) £4.75 Nachos: £6.80
3/5 stars, I've had steak and chicken tacos there a few times. This is exactly like Chipotle minus whatever secret Chipotle has that makes their food taste so much better.
BF 3/5 stars, I've had pretty much everything and it's all bog-standard. What you see is what you get; nothing spectacular but it does the job.
32 Home Street, Tollcross
Smoky Pork, Spicy Pork, Beef, Chicken, Chorizo: £4.20-7.00 Vegetarian: £4.00-6.50
2/5 stars, I've had smoky pork tacos and smoky pork nachos. Yum! Burritos, nachos, fajitas, quesadillas, tacos (3 crispy or soft): the price depends on the filling of choice.
BF 4/5 stars, Their beef is incredible. Awesome value for money. Huge portions.
3. BONNIE BURRITO
82 Clerk Street & 41 Lauriston Place (truck)
Fillings: Chicken, Irn-Bru Pulled Pork, Haggis, Veggie Haggis
1/5 stars, Only because they just do burritos and I'm a taco-lover. The staff are very friendly at the truck in front of Lauriston Building.
BF 3/5 stars, Pretty small portions and kind of underwhelming. Try the Irn-Bru pulled pork.
4. TACO MAZAMA
Ocean Terminal, 95 Princes Street, & 63 Lothian Road
Burritos, Fajitas, Quesadillas, Burrito Bowls, Fajita Salads: £4.99-9.99
Tacos: £2.49 for one, £6.49 for three
2/5 stars, I've only had chicken fajita salads, which were tasty.
BF 2/5 stars, Caters to all, master of none. Small portion size, each portion is 80 grams of meat (because I asked them one day). The only decent item is their salad.
5. ILLEGAL JACK'S
44-45 St Patrick Square, South Side
Burritos: £6.75-8.95 Quesadillas: £7.25-8.25
Tacos: (3 crispy) £7.25-6.25
Nachos: £4.95-7.50 Fajitas: £11.50-12.95 Chili Bowls: £7.75-7.95
1/5 stars, I had chicken tacos. There weren't many options for toppings plus the taco shells looked like they were straight from Tesco. The chicken was also extremely spicy and instead of small cuts of chicken, I was given chunks of chicken breast. Lean meat for the win!
BF 3.5/5 stars, I've had chili bowl and a lot of their burritos. Overall taste is good, it's not overwhelming and it's a decent all-rounder but it doesn't knock it out of the park.
££ — Okay, I'm cheap but I'm not THAT cheap.
You want something a bit nicer? Someplace to sit down and enjoy a Mexican atmosphere with piñatas and frozen margarita machines? Here you go...
93 Lothian Road
Street Food (three soft tacos, two tostadas, two taquitos, quesadillas): £4.20-5.95
Classics: £4.95-10.00 "The Big Boys": £5.95-9.95
4.5/5 stars, I had guacamole, chicken tinga tacos, lamb tostadas, shredded beef tostadas, beef taquitos, and watermelon margaritas. This is a personal favorite of mine. You order your food, you blink, and the food is put in front of you. I don't know how they do it so fast! I've been about four times now and the food stays consistent. They have a big selection of tequila, mezcal, and margaritas. It's a large restaurant with a lot of space but not overwhelming.
BF 4.5/5 stars, Really decent food for a pretty low price. They nailed the street food aspect but also have bigger dishes and the drinks are pretty good.
Clockwise: Chicken tinga tacos, albondigas, guacamole and chips, lamb tostadas
7 Victoria Street
Starters: £4.50-£11.95 Classics: £9.95-16.95
From the Grill: £12.95-19.95
3/5 stars, I had chicken tacos, shredded pork flautas, and warm tortilla chips. On the beautiful Victoria Street, Mariachi has a packed menu of Mexican classics as well as steaks and burgers.
BF 4/5 stars, Spectacular tacos and flautas but it is really expensive.
16 S St Andrew Street
Street Food (tacos, tostadas, taquitos, quesadillas): £3.95-5.40
Bigger Food (grill, salads, burritos, enchiladas): £7.25-12.95
2/5 stars, I had chicken tostadas, steak tacos, tortilla chips, and a classic margarita—it was nothing to write home about. This place is gigantic. I'd say almost too big and overwhelming with two floors of tables. They have a decent selection of tequila, mezcal, and margaritas.
BF 3/5 stars, It's like Topolabamba but smaller portions. Not as tasty.
4. MIROS CANTINA
184 Rose Street
Mains: Dinner £10.95-16.50 / Lunch: £7.50-9.50
2/5 Stars, Chicken soft tacos, frozen margarita—not memorable. I almost forgot what it was I had eaten. This is a small restaurant on the west end of Rose Street but they have outdoor seating in the summer.
BF, never been.
£££ — I will throw down all my money for good Mexican food.
Same but luckily, you won't have to! Here are the two places that are a bit more expensive for what you get.
1. EL CARTEL
64 Thistle Street, New Town
2 soft tacos: £6.50 Antojitos: £4.00-9.00
4/5 stars, I've had duck carnitas, carne asada, and pork shoulder tacos, pork ribs, guacamole, and a citric acid margarita. This place can be a hit or miss. The dishes can be a bit experimental, like winter squash tacos with chocolate mole. But definitely try their pomegranate seed and feta guacamole. It's also a very small restaurant and they do not take reservations so go at an odd time to ensure a table.
BF 5/5 stars, Pretty spectacular all-round. Tacos are always great. Plantain chips are a must-have.
2. THE BASEMENT BAR
10a-12a Broughton Street
Small plates (tacos, quesadillas, taquitos, etc): £5.25-6.50
Large Plates (fajitas, burritos, etc): £9.50-15.50
3/5 stars, I've had guacamole, chicken fajitas, slow cooked brisket tacos, and Tommy's margaritas—all very good.
A lot of restaurants make margaritas with a pre-made neon green margarita mix and it tastes like liquid sugar. I tend to gauge the restaurant's legitimacy on whether or not they serve Tommy's margaritas, which is just tequila, lime juice, and agave syrup.
Basement has a cool vibe and it's a large space but can get crowded so definitely book a table before you go. If you can't handle spicy food, stay away from the fajitas. They will tell you they aren't spicy but trust me—when the waitress brings them out your eyes will water. And their cocktail list is class.
BF 4/5 stars, Pretty small portion size but the taste is pretty good. It's the only place that does decent fajitas.
62 Elm Row & 36 Leven Street
Tacos: £7.50 for two
Sides: from £3.50 - £6
4/5 stars, I've only been here once so I don't have enough to say but the food was delicious. I had scallion fries (interesting and tasty), carne asada steak tacos, tempura tiger prawn tacos, and baja tacos. The Tollcross restaurant is small and only open at night, so make reservations but it's worth it. I'm eager to go back and try their cocktails!