El Cartel Mexicana, Edinburgh

Do you remember that feeling when your crush walked into a room your stomach filled with butterflies and you started to feel all wobbly? ….I feel this way about tacos.

Hidden away on Thistle Street, El Cartel is a consistently bustling restaurant where there is always a wait to get a seat, as you can’t book. Honestly the wait is a pain but it is completely worth it, and I am incredibly happy you cannot book as the waiting list would probably be months.

The staff are always lovely, even if there is a 45 minute wait they will take you number and call when a table is free, and there are constant smiles throughout.

The interior is quirky  and filled with colour, yet not in a tacky way. Each way you turn there is always a piece of decor you want to continually stare at (well, I do).

El Cartel SkullThey have many different flavours of frozen margaritas, on this particular occasion they had a blackcurrant one and that was my decision made. Blackcurrants are a dream to me as I think they taste incredible, combine them with tequila and you are on to a winner.

Although beautiful it was incredibly messy, thankfully I was not wearing a white top on this occasion as I was having one of those situations where your drink melts everywhere and you are not quite sure where it is coming from….just keep drinking in the hope it stops melting….. right?

El Cartel

For starters we decided to share…(kind of) the Guacamole National and the Bombers. I chose the Bombers because I have had them before and have been dreaming about them ever since. I have yet to find somewhere that serves anything comparable to the Bombers at El Cartel.

They are filled with a beautiful cream cheese, tiny slices of jalapenos and are covered in bread crumbs. This is a dish I could never get tired of and would happily keep on eating. The reason I say ‘kind of’ sharing above is because my Mum was lucky to get half of one….

‘JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD’… would happen if you tried to take one of these off of me. (Friends reference I haven’t decided to start calling myself Joey).

El Cartel Bombers

The other starter we decided to share (we actually did share this one as this was mums pick and she didn’t have a choice) was the Guacamole National. What can only be described as a visual masterpiece, this guacamole is incredibly fresh tasting and the addition of the pomegranate seeds were a lovely sweet touch. It is served with what I think was dried slices of plantain, which were light and crispy and didn’t take away the show of the guacamole.

image3 (1)

Now for the star of the show, the tacos come when they are ready, they wait for no one. Every time a new taco arrives on the table I gasp with joy as if I had forgotten I had ordered it in the first place.

Anyway, the first to arrive was the Duck Carnitas, this is duck (obviously), chipotle pecan nuts, salsa, crema, pico and pumpkin seeds. These were divine, not too spicy, slightly sweet and filled with flavour. The addition of the pumpkin seeds was lovely as they gave a great texture which rounded off the taco completely.

If you are a duck lover, this is the one for you.

El Cartel Duck Tacos.jpeg

The next to arrive was the Carne Asada, which is flat iron steak, arbol salsa, avocado, spring onion and cherry tomato. These were simple in a positive way, because when it comes to steak you don’t want to bulldoze them with flavour, and lets face it, who doesn’t love the addition of avocado to anything?

F*ck avocado toast it’s all about the steak tacos.

El Cartel Steak Tacos

As we were sitting there feeling incredibly full, the Baja Cod arrived. This is battered cod, chipotle crema and pomegranate salad. These were good, however probably not the dish you want to arrive last due to it being battered. I’m not going to lie it was a struggle, as it was a bit more heavy going than the others. That said, I would order them again, but make sure not to overload on other food beforehand.

(Tough call when I seem to only order the whole menu).


El Cartel Fish Tacos

It was all over, I couldn’t believe it. Why was the bill coming? Why couldn’t I eat any more tacos? What do I do with my life now?

Over exaggeration, but you get the idea.

It is my birthday soon, and there is no way I can cheat on El Cartel with any other restaurant, so I will be seeing those tacos once again, very, very soon.

*Dreams of a future with more tacos*

El Cartel starters

Food: 5/5

Decor: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Price: 4/5

Total: 17/20 from Cup of T!

Recommend: For guacamole lovers, taco aficionados, margarita drinkers and for a damn good meal.

JUST GO ALREADY, and tell them I sent you.

El Cartel Casera Mexicana social media: 

Website: El Cartel Mexicana

Facebook: El Cartel Mexicana

Twitter: @elcartelmexican

Instagram: @elcartelmexicana

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