Where to find the best Mexican food in Cape Town

To say Capetonians love Mexican food is an understatement. In fact, you can fill up on tacos, tortillas and tequila almost every day of the week for a month, and not eat at the same place twice! That’s right, the more than 20 Mexican eateries in and the around El Cape Town offer everything from tex-mex cheesy nachos, to takeaway chilli poppers, to more authentic comida Mexicana, and of course a lot of tequila.

Here’s a look at some of our favourite places to hang our sombreros:

Fat Cactus

If you’re looking for a great party vibe filled with deliciously cheesy chilli poppers, tasty tacos, tostadas, tequilas and muchas cervezas, Fat Cactus is where you should lead your weary caballo. With branches in Woodstock, Mowbray and just off trendy Kloof Street in the CBD, Fat Cactus serves up delicious tex-mex fare.

Website: fatcactus.co.za

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Another esteemed tex-mex favourite is Panchos in Observatory. Rumoured to be the home of the best nachos in the barrio, Pachos is always packed with vatos and chicas enjoying the rustic Mexican atmosphere, and of course, the amazing fajitas, echiladas, chili con carnes and giant jugs of frozen margaritas.

Contact: +27 21 447 4854

Viva! Mexican

With branches in Kenilworth, Durbanville and even Stellenbosch, Viva! Mexican is another strong contender for Cape Town’s tex-mex favorita comida. Chef Mike and his team source ingredients from ethical farmers to serve up tasty burritos, tacos, tostadas and their signature pizzadillas in a very lively setting (to say the least).

Website: www.vivamexican.co.za


For our hermanos y hermanas up north, the famous Tacoways in Durbanville is the place to get your Mexican flavour fix. This little no-nonsense outpost on the other side the Boerewors Curtain (or is it wall?) serves up truly delicious tex-mex, including tacos, nachos, burritos, and their famous pork chimichangas. In fact, those chimis alone are worth the trip up to the wild north.

Website: www.tacoways.co.za

Zapata Mexican restaurant

But if you think the high noon chimichanga has been won, you’d be incorrecto, muchacho. Named after the famous revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, the restaurant that bears his name puts up a fuerte lucha for those honours. They also serve up other delicious tex-mex favourites, including some of the best chilli poppers in town.

Contact: +27 21 671 2393


But, my dearest amigos, las grandes guerreros in the battle for Best Mexican in Cape Town are undoubtedly El Burro and San Julian. When it comes to choosing, emotions run high among the residentes of the Mother City of who is the real champion, so we’ll let you decide.

El Burro & Taqueria

Started by the group of friends behind the famous Royale Eatery, El Buro (The Donkey) pride themselves in serving only authentic Mexican dishes (don’t even mention nachos!) like carne asada (marinated flank steak), chicken mole poblano (chicken in chocolate sauce, yes, chocolate!) and ceviche a la gorditas (lime marinated fish with smoked jalapeño sauce). Their build-your-own tacos and carnitas are firm favourites, served with hard or soft taco shells, and traditional flour or corn tortillas. The also offer an incredible 37 different kinds of important tequila (only the real stuff from Mexico), including tequila that’s meant to be sipped, not shot. Another donkey recently made its home in Newlands, and their traditional Mexican street food and taco bar, Taqueria, in Tamboerskloof,  is loved by the hip-and-trendy crowd. It goes without saying that booking is essential. If you’d like to sample more of their myriad of tequila options, they also have a tequila bar called Cabrito, downstairs from their Green Point restaurant.

Website: elburro.co.za

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San Julian

When it comes to authentic Mexican food, it simply does not get more authentic than San Julian, a tiny little gem hidden away in Rose Street in De Waterkant. The restaurant is owned by the Gracia family, Mexicans from actual Mexico who made Cape Town their casa back in 2009. Since then they’ve been serving up heavenly tostadas (toasted tortillas) with smoked Chipotle aioli, tacos, cheesy quesadillas (hot tortillas with melted cheese), enchiladas (tortilla rolled around a meaty or vegetarian filling like a pancake), and their famous street food inspired chilorio vampiro (toasted tortillas topped with marinated pulled pork and the full-house of toppings including cheese, salsa and guacamole). The decor and vibe in San Julian is, well obviously, very traditionally Mexican, and if you’re lucky enough to celebrate your birthday there, you’ll be serenaded mariachi-style by the owner and his guitarrón, while wearing a traditional lucha libre mask and trying to find the worm in a strong shot of traditional tequila. It takes festive to another level! As with El Burro, booking is essential.

Website: www.sanjulian.co.za 

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Worthy mentions:

Tortilla Modern Mexican near the CTICC

Remex Mexican Cantina in Table View

Cantina Tequila near Tiger Valley Mall

Didi’s Mexican Takeaway in Claremont

Mex It Up at the V&A Waterfront

El Mariachi in Sea Point

El Cartel Mexican Cantina in Kloof street

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Tags: Mexican food, Best Restaurants, Editors Pick