Great Mexican is hard to find in London. In the U.S., authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex style restaurants are a staple to most neighborhoods. Here, the Mexican population is much smaller than the states, as is the Mexican restaurant community. According to a recent U.K. census, only about 10,000 Mexicans are living in the U.K., compared to the 35 million residing in the U.S. Therefore, it is not surprising why finding delicious Mexican cuisine is a challenge. Being at the top of my favorite fare, I try any Mexican restaurant I come across, and have a long list of which ones hit the mark and which ones do not. I can say that Santo, at the top of Portobello Road in Notting Hill, does not disappoint.
Santo is a relaxed hotspot, perfect for any day of the week. I have been visiting the restaurant since I first came to London, for weekend dinners with friends and last-minute weeknight meals when I didn’t feel like cooking. Reservations are an absolute must. They can usually squeeze you in on the weeknights, but you might have to be flexible for them to accommodate you on the weekends. So why is Santo always so packed?
The atmosphere is great. Super chill. The roadside outdoor seating is perfect for people watching, and the inside tables are close to the giant open windows that you get to feel the best of both worlds. The back room is colorful and the entire restaurant buzzes with the energy of a full house.
The drinks and food are delicious. I always opt for a jalapeño margarita (or two, maybe three) and an assortment of tacos. Unfortunately, the price is a little steep for a Mexican joint. Santo is really more of a tapas place, with their tiny delicious tacos and quesadillas that you can gobble up in two bites. It has the menu of a cool, hipster food-truck, but at premium prices. An impromptu weeknight meal usually runs us about £80.00. But we keep coming back for more. We all do.
So, go check it out and see why their tables are filled every Tuesday-Saturday, next time you’re on the famed Portobello Road. On market days, they expand their hours to open for lunch which can make for a great day out.
299 Portobello Road
London W10 5TD