El Cartel Casera Mexicana

El Cartel Casera Mexicana
64 Thistle Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1EN
  • Telephone 0131 226 7171
  • Food served Sun–Thu noon–10pm; Fri/Sat noon–midnight.
  • Average price £13.50 (lunch); £13.50 (evening meal)
  • Email
  • Website elcartelmexicana.co.uk

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Fresh Mexican street food, tequilas, mezcals, frozen cocktails and lively vibes on Edinburgh’s stylish Thistle Street.

Eating & Drinking Guide

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This review is taken from the current (2016) edition.

It’s not easy being the new kid on the block and even less so when fire ravages your restaurant after just a few months of opening. But El Cartel has risen from the ashes and is spearheading a fresh approach to Mexican in the city, moving away from tired Tex-Mex to offer a more authentic street food-style menu of soft hand-pressed tacos and antojitos (snacks). Just across the street from sister venue The Bon Vivant, its dark grey interior is smattered with kitsch and colourful paraphernalia. All dishes on the concise menu can be shared, including the likes of baja cod tacos with chipotle crema and pomegranate salad, and quesadillas filled with chorizo, sweet potato and cow’s milk soft cheese. The daily-changing specials board is also worth checking out, with approachable staff happy to guide you through your options. Hip hop beats and an extensive selection of tequilas, mezcals and frozen cocktails guarantee a party vibe.

  • High point: Concise menu means you can try just about everything
  • Low point: No bookings, but you can drink in The Bon Vivant while you wait
  • Notable dish: Any of the hand-pressed soft taco selection
  • Provides: Vegetarian options (at least ¼ main courses), Children's high chairs, Free wi-fi
  • Music on stereo: Hip hop
  • Capacity: 40
  • Largest group: No bookings
  • Open since: 2014
  • Number of wines sold by the glass: 2
  • House wine: £23 per bottle
  • BYOB: £5 corkage (Must be purchased from The Bon Vivant's Companion across the road)

Reviews & features

Restaurant review: El Cartel

3 Jun 2015

El Cartel is back from the dead, following a disastrous kitchen fire and lengthy refurb

There’s something folkloric about the tale of El Cartel which perfectly suits this taqueria’s atmosphere. A young, vivacious upstart, cruelly cut down in its prime by fire and smoke. There were tears, sadness and mourning for a time, but then whispers…

A ShortFilm of El Cartel Casera Mexicana