Despite the wealth of delicious inspiration in Mexican cuisine, we're a little behind on making the most of it. Much of what we consider authentic is little more than takeaway burrito spots and unadventurous Tex-Mex consisting of pre-grated, rubbery cheese and trays scattered with Doritos.
Venture further afield and you'll find smoky aztec spices, incredibly fresh fish and tender meat grilled to perfection. Here are some of our favourites:
Molé Taco Bar
Nestled behind headache-inducing Oxford Street is Molé, a quietly stylish restaurant with excellent service and even more impressive food that bursts with authentic flavour and passion. Start with their house guacamole; perfectly smashed and seasoned and served with tortilla chips that are magically both doughy and crispy. Their raw bar should be your next stop: Molé's tuna tostada combines delicate yellowfin tuna with warmly spiced chipotle mayo with an impressive depth of flavour.
Other highlights include the zesty yet smooth sea bass ceviche and the cheese empanada; a pastry pillow of Mexican Oaxaca cheese, duck and chorizo that is remarkably grease-free and has a spice that lingers rather than jumping out to scare you. The taco portion of the menu is long but considered with unusual options like soft shell crab tempura or grilled Nopal cactus to compete with the usual suspects. As for favourites the chipotle beef short-rib and Atole fried chicken take some beating, though we'll be heading back soon to complete the rest of the menu.
Molé Taco Bar, 16 Picton Pl, London W1U 1BP
Nud Dudhia and Chris Whitney started serving tacos from their wooden shack in Netil House Market back in 2012, and have had a host of pop-ups since. You can currently catch them at Dinerama in East London serving delicious tacos like Yorkshire Wagyu brisket and octopus with bone marrow and avocado.
Their first permanent taqueria opens early December and is inspired by travels across Mexico and America. The lunch menu focuses on tacos and toastadas with toppings that range from classics (fried chicken, beef tartare) to adventurous (Chicharrón pig skin, Yucatan grilled fish). At £2 to £5 a pop you can loosen your belt and try them all. The dinner menu matures to wood grilled dishes like Ibericho Pork or sharing dishes like mutton barbacoa and beef rib. Best start queueing now.
Breddos Tacos @ Dinerama, 19 Great Eastern St, London EC2A 3EJ
Peyotito opened this year in Notting Hill promising a fine dining approach to modern Mexican food and turned out to be one of the best new editions to the area's dining scene for years. Simply decorated, buzzy and with friendly staff it quickly established itself as a West London hot spot.
Walking the delicate line between impressive and overly fussy, dishes like the yellowfin tuna, salsa macha, guacamole and homemade tostadas or the 24 hour braised lamb with salsa tatemada will change how you think about the cuisine for good. Also amazing: the ceviche and - crucially -the margaritas.
peyotitorestaurant.com, 31 Kensington Park Road, London, W11 2EU
This Brixton Market favourite promises authentic home cooked Mexican food and not a Tex-Mex dish in sight. That isn't to say they've overcomplicated their offering. The menu offers mix-and-match tacos topped with wonders like Gloucester Old Spot pulled pork slow-cooked in orange juice or delicately shredded chicken in a spicy chilli chipotle sauce.
Try their 'tortas' for the Mexican take on a burger, which come with toppings like rich black beans, avocado and sour cream. The experience is simple and inexpensive but with authentic flavours and unfussy dining. Margaritas and mojitos come strong, tall and shaken with zesty flavour. At only £6.50 a pop you'll want a few.
Casa Morita, 9 Market Row, London SW9 8LB
La Bodega Negra
Take a little walk down Dean Street, and you won't be able to miss the high-end, bright turquoise Mexican restaurant that is often talked up as the best in town. Sister restaurant to New York's La Esquina, La Bodega Negra has a "done this before" confidence in the dishes, service and decor. Although tacos and quesadillas do grace the menu they're expertly done, think soft shell crab or lamb with drunken salsa.
The real stars of the kitchen are grilled dishes, like the pork belly with mezcal and salsa verde which is both sharp and soft in equal measure. The half roasted chicken shows how attention to seasoning and spices can transform something simple into something write-home-about-able, and their ceviches pack whole fruit bowl of citrus flavours. Expect to part with a lot more than you would for your average Waterloo station steak burrito, but you'll understand why.
La Bodega Negra, 9 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 5JF
Boasting the largest selection of tequila on display in the UK (260 bottles FYI) Mesitzo are just as concerned with their reputation as a must-visit bar. The result is a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere in their Kings Cross location, which hosts events from the Day of the Dead festival to Mexican revolution day parties. Their original outpost sits right next to one of the biggest tapas districts in Madrid and still remains popular, a testament to their great strong menu and even stronger drinks.
Back in London Mestizo has an eclectic menu that includes delicious flautas (fried tortillas stuffed with cheese and chicken) and refreshing tortilla soups and ceviches. Unusually for Mexican restaurants they offer vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free and lactose intolerant specialist menus, so invite all your fussy friends.
Mesitzo, 103 Hampstead Rd, London NW1 3EL
West London boasts a few Mexican spots, the most recent of which is trendy Kiwi-owned Habanera whose beautifully presented gourmet tacos and burritos look as good as they taste. Well, nearly. With six different types of salsa to pair with corn chips you're in safe hands with this lot.
The taco list is a seemingly endless feast, from the persian tasting lamb with pomegranate to the wickedly good 'three little pigs' - a salty indulgent pile of pulled pork, chorizo and bacon that will leave you licking your chops. Elsewhere, the build your own taco boards are excellent sharers that don't compromise on quality, a suprise favourite being the wild mushroom with spiced garlic sauce. Just save room for the churros, the best we've tried yet.
Habanera, 280 Uxbridge Rd, London W12 7JA
Bringing Mexico City to Mayfair, Peyote champion refined dining with all the greedy pleasure of street food. The usual fare of tacos and tostadas come crisp or soft with things like tuna tartare or beef short-rib. The menu also impresses with their raw dishes like yellowtail sashimi and zingy but sweet prawn ceviche with tomatillo and lime salsa.
Their artfully prepared plates are a feast as much for the eyes as mouth and salads like the grilled cactus with habanero salsa or lettuce cup tacos are great for any dull diet day or stopping in for lunch.
Peyote, 13 Cork Street, Mayfair, W1S 3NS
If you've eaten your way through all the tacos in town, then Killa Dilla are the quesadilla maestros that will reinvent how you see the humble dish. Visit street-food spot Kerb at Camden Market to gorge on their cheesy marvels like the house favourite citrus grilled chicken which is packed with gooey mozzarella, tomatillo salsa and punchy house pickled red onions.
For something out your comfort zone both the 8-hour pork belly and crispy smashed hash brown & maple cured crispy bacon are worth getting your lips around. Don't leave without a side of their infamous nacho fries: triple cooked chips drenched in tangy cheddar sauce with a drizzle of sour cream and fresh coriander, you'll wonder what you've been eating all these years.
Killa Dilla @ Kerb Camden Market, Camden Lock Pl, London NW1 8AF