It goes without saying that Tokyo is easily one of the best food capitals of the world. However, this title isn’t strictly tied to the country’s national dishes. In a city that is rapidly gaining a more international population, Tokyo has been embracing all the wonderful aspects that come with fresh faces and ideas, and that includes an appreciation for wonderful food. Mexican is one such cuisine that’s gaining traction and finding its niche, from low-key burrito bars and laid-back taco stands to rooftop Mexican beer gardens – here are some of the best Mexican restaurants in Tokyo.
Pop around the corner, down a backstreet just behind the candy-covered, tourist-populated Harajuku shopping strip of Takeshita Dori and you’ll find Chiles. This low-key, laid-back Mexican restaurant specialises in fresh, authentic salad-heavy dishes that are both super cheap and equally delicious. From burritos and salad bowls to Mexican beers and margaritas, this humble hangout has it all. If you’re on the hunt for a bargain, it’s worth staying tuned to their Facebook page where they regularly post weekday specials.
A somewhat hidden bar tucked up three floors on the cusp of Shinjuku’s Ni-Chome gay nightlife area sits Rainbow Burritos Doumo, home to some of the city’s most sought-after burritos. This popular, yet rather tiny restaurant welcomes customers of all walks of life, making it an inclusive hangout and an excellent place for foreigners to rub shoulders with locals. You can take the ‘rubbing shoulders’ term quite literally in fact, as the entire establishment houses about four bar bench seats and a small corner table and that’s about it. Drinks are cheap, the food is great, and the atmosphere friendly – what more could you want from a local Mexican joint?
Popular with some of the city’s most fashion-conscious and foreign crowds, Junkadelic is a laid-back, ramshackle Tex-Mex restaurant that loves its beans, salsa and cheese in equally abundant measure. Positioned in the trendy neighbourhood of Naka-Meguro, the place is decked out in kitsch-cool Day of the Dead items and mismatched knickknacks, giving it a nonchalant, fun atmosphere that truly comes alive later as the evening rolls deeper into the night.
The only thing better than digging into a delicious plate of tacos is digging into a delicious plate of tacos with a view, and Hacienda de Cielo arguably has one of the best views in all of Tokyo. Located on the top floor of a commercial complex in the upmarket neighbourhood of Daikanyama, this stylish, but not too fancy bar and restaurant serves up light Mexican fare perfect for a long afternoon in the sun and cocktails that are best enjoyed while watching the sun set over the city.
For relaxed, no-fuss dining that’s delicious, authentic and homely, make your way to Tokyo’s unofficial international capital, Hiroo, for dinner at the much loved La Jolla. This cozy hangout has become a bit of a Hiroo icon, having originally opened back in 1987 when the idea of Mexican cuisine was still a very foreign concept for Tokyo locals. Over the past three decades, the team have continued to do what they do best. In Spanish, ‘la joya’ means gem, and it’s fair to say that the title rings true.
For Mexican on the go, pop by Taco Rico stand in Akasaka for fresh, delicious, bite-sized tacos, and jam-packed burritos. Taco Rico’s legacy can be traced back to San Francisco, where owner Noboru Kitajima (locals call him Bill) lived, studied and gained an appreciation for American-influenced Mexican cuisine. Since opening, it’s become one of the area’s most well-trodden international hot spots.
Nestled away in the bustling centre of Shibuya is where you’ll find Casa de Sarasa, the Mexican restaurant and bar founded by much loved local DJ and producer Sarasa. With a love of her home city but a mindset that goes way beyond the boundaries of Japan, Sarasa has worked tirelessly to ensure everything here is wholly inclusive, from the homely feel to the diverse menu, which boasts gluten-free corn tortillas and both vegetarian and meat-heavy staples. For cool, casual dining that’s suitable for everyone, you can’t really go wrong.
A ten-minute stroll the Shibuya scramble, down one of the area’s most well-trodden backstreets, sits La Mex, a spacious fun-loving cantina that serves up plenty of international-style dishes with a heavy emphasis on Mexican fare. Probably not greatly suited to those who want a quiet night, the large, open-plan dining area and bar adhere to a more party-type atmosphere, but really who wants to eat Mexican food and drink mojitos in dead silence?
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