Brighton’s Best Mexican Eateries – Our Top 5
The last couple of years have seen a selection of new Mexican places opening in Brighton. It’s taken over as the grab and go lunch of choice, serviced by American-style burrito joints, and it’s quickly becoming a popular pub grub option thanks to Mexican kitchens opening in some of the City’s favourite bars. Here we present a few Brighton’s Best Mexican Restaurants for hungry gringos. (Still hungry? Get another chilli fix with our guide to Brighton’s Best Indian Restaurants, or go Italian and check out Brighton’s Best Pizza)
Since it opened in the North Laine in 2012 La Choza has been consistently packed out. Its immense popularity probably owes a little something to the décor – it looks like a piñata exploded in here. All sugar skulls and Day of the Dead regalia, the bright pink restaurant is one of the most colourful eateries in town, which is no mean feat in a town like Brighton. Even the Mexican beer bottles have labels you’ll want to keep in a scrapbook. But kitsch factor alone is not enough to generate a loyal customer base and it’s the food that keeps the devotees coming back.
The main menu offers a mix ‘n’ match style selection. First choose your base – burrito, quesadilla, tostadas or rice – then decide on your fillings. Vegetarians can tuck into a seriously weighty sweet potato and feta burrito, while carnivores will have a hard time choosing between the beef, pulled pork, chicken and homemade chorizo. All are rich with smoky, barbecued flavor. For a nice alternative to the meat-heavy offerings try the sea bream and salmon ceviche, which is zesty, light and so very fresh.
If you can’t get a table, the Hare & Hounds on London Road has recently opened a La Choza kitchen so you can still get your fix.
36 Gloucester Road, Brighton, BN1 4AQ / Hare & Hounds – 75 London Road, Brighton. BN1 4JF
The closest you’re going to get to a little slice of Guadalajara in Sussex, Carlito and business partner Andrew started off running a festival van and a pop-up burrito stall on Circus Street before opening their Mexican street food restaurant at the end of 2013. They still serve bangin’ burritos but with more competition than ever it’s now their Mexican tapas that really makes them stand out.
At Carlito’s recommendation the best way to start your dinner is with a single, slippery oyster, washed down with a tomato infused ‘bloody Mary’ tequila shot and finished with a sharp bite of lime encrusted with chilli and salt. It’s a theatrical way to kick off a meal and even for those who aren’t partial, easily the most brilliant way to ingest either a shot of tequila or an oyster without gagging.
The tapas menu offers more great seafood options. The barely cured mackerel in the citrusy aguachile is so fresh and flavorsome it tastes like sushi having a fiesta. Or there are the fish tacos: delicate white fish coated in a crisp, weightless batter made from Negra Modelo beer, served up on flour tortillas with guajillo chilli and chipotle sour cream. Meat eaters should try the 48-hour marinated Mexican steak, charred on the outside and blushing pink inside – a welcome change from slow cooked meats.
Offering genuine Mexican street food, Carlito Burrito doesn’t just serve up authentic food… this is auténtica comida.
12 York Place, Brighton, BN21 4GU
If you fancy a sit down Mexican meal in a great pub then you’ve got to try Smokin’ Gringo at Sidewinder in Kemp Town. Previously of Bang Bang Burrito on Jubilee Street, head Chef Matt Young is fiercely authentic in his take on burritos, quesadillas, tostadas and more. Hugely creative in the kitchen – his meats frequently marinated and cook for nearly a whole day – Matt adds daily specials to an already tempting menu, including bringing the freshest day’s fish into the Mexican arena. It all adds up to an easy to eat, exciting food that’s perfect for grabbing at lunch, or spending more time with in the wonderful Sidewinder garden as the spring arrives.
Sidewinder – 65 Upper St James’s St, Brighton, BN2 1PJ
More Tex Mex than Mexican, Dos Sombreros serves up some tasty fiesta fare, but we had to include this Lanes eatery as much for the happy hour as for the food.
Dos Sombreros can’t claim to be quite as hip or authentic as the newer joints in town, and there’s less of a street food vibe here; if some of the others feel more like snack bars or cafes then this is a ‘proper’ restaurant. (It’s also the only place where your food arrives on a ceramic plate). The menu offers quite a variety of different options, including (the not very Mexican) burgers and jerk chicken, but anyone who’s been before will know that fajitas are the speciality: flavoursome strips of marinated steak, chicken, chorizo, prawn or vegetables served up on sizzling platters.
The fajitas are delicious, but if we’re really honest it’s the cocktail and tequila bar that earns Dos Sombreros its place in the list. Food portions here are very generous so you could easily save your starter money and opt instead to blow the cash on dangerously refreshing frozen margaritas and shots of mezcal (complete with worm). It’s just an idea…
24 Ship Street, Brighton, BN1 1AD
Chain restaurants generally feel superfluous in a city like Brighton, with such a thriving independent food scene that you never have to set foot in a fast food chain if you don’t want to. But recently opened Tortilla represents a new kind of fast food franchise for the City. Started by Californian Brandon Stephens, Tortilla is modelled on the West Coast burrito bars that he missed so much from home when he moved to the UK.
You build your perfect burrito by selecting from different types of rice, beans, fillings and sauces, topping it with cheese, chillis or guacamole to your own taste. Anyone who’s not so keen on their food coming wrapped, rolled, folded or stuffed can opt for a ‘naked burrito’ served in a bowl on top of rice.
The restaurant’s West Street location makes it a great option for office lunchers and busy shoppers hungry for something other than a sandwich. The food may be fast but it’s far healthier and much more exciting than that on offer in your average high street burger chain.Get directions
37 West St, Brighton, BN1 2RE