El Cartel New Town

El Cartel New Town
64 Thistle Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1EN
  • Telephone 0131 226 7171
  • Seasonal times Festival: open until midnight
  • Food served Sun–Thu noon–10pm; Fri/Sat noon–midnight.
  • Email
  • Website elcartelmexicana.co.uk
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Mexican street food with frozen cocktails and a long list of tequilas and mezcals. Walk-ins only.

Eating & Drinking Guide

The 2018/19 edition of The List's Eating & Drinking Guide is out now – only £7.95 (+p&p).

El Cartel has reached near-mythical status, fanned by their no-booking policy. Right across from sister bar Bon Vivant (where you’ll inevitably end up while waiting for your table) the intimate taqueria feels casual but stylish. The mood is lively; old-school hip hop on the stereo, get-your-hands-dirty street food on the menu, dia de los muertos artwork on the walls and a speciality drinks menu so extensive it should come with a sick note. The menu is compact, fresh and seasonal – daily specials feature on the board and in the grown-up slush puppy machine. Start with fresh guacamole with sheep’s milk cheese and pomegranate, complete with plantain or corn chips; indulge in sinfully delicious street corn; opt for at least one of the vegetarian specials wrapped up in a soft corn tortilla; tuck into a pile of chicken wings. The rest is up to you… but don’t forget the handmade goat's curd and chilli ice-creams either.

The List's rating






Gill Thomson visited El Cartel New Town on 1 February 2018
  • High point: Great tastes washed down with boozy slushies
  • Low point: Being sent away with a rumbling tum to await a table
  • Notable dish: Street corn
  • Average price: £23 (lunch); £23 (dinner)
  • Provides: Vegetarian options (at least ¼ main courses), Children's high chairs, Free wi-fi
  • Music on stereo: Very loud 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, which closes 8pm Sun–Thu/ 9pm Fri/Sat.)

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