Edinburgh is already spoiled with two branches of The Bon Vivant Group’s Mexican restaurants, El Cartel, but now we’ve got a third.
While there’s already one for the students at Teviot, another for the after-work (pre-covid) crowd on Thistle Street, which is temporarily closed, August 2 sees the official opening of a tourist-friendly branch at 1 Roxburgh’s Court, just off the Royal Mile.
“The opportunity came up and it was too good to miss out on”, says Anthony Hester, director at The Bon Vivant Group. “Mexican street food is a huge trend that shows no signs of diminishing and the El Cartel concept has proven to be extremely popular with locals and tourists alike”.
Indeed, Edinburgh has recently seen the launch of Taco Libre and we have Bodega, the popular Antojitos Truck, which won the Scottish Street Food Awards ‘21. There’s also new-to-the-capital chains, FreshMex and Taco Bell, as well as Wahaca and Topolabamba.
The Thistle Street El Cartel original is tiny, but their newest - open seven days a week, noon to midnight - will be the biggest yet, with space for 100 covers. The glass front doors are decorated with their dancing skeleton motif, and there’s a colourful bar and fiesta decorations. Later this year, they’re also planning to introduce Build Your Own sessions, and Tequila and Taco Brunches.
The menu features most of the favourite dishes that regulars know and love, including their cochinita pibil or baja cod tacos, the guacamole nationale and jalapeno bombers. There will also be frozen margaritas, tequila and mezcal.
When it comes to their menu, tried and tested is best.
“I love Mexico, my wife Karina is from Mexico City and her uncle actually owns a taqueria in Jalpa”, says their head chef since 2017, Daniele Dessi. “He has inspired some of the dishes you’ll find on our menu. Since it opened in 2014, we’ve had a very clear sense of what works in El Cartel and what the favourite dishes are. In fact, we once tried to remove the bombers and there was an outcry. Our customers know what they love and they love what we do so we have created the Roxburgh menu as a menu of favourites”.