10 Hot Mexican Restaurants in Shanghai

Taco Time

by Michaela Fulton | Thu, November 09, 2017

When it comes to tacos, quesadillas and nachos, we can't get enough. Whether you're a Mexican expat yearning for the taste of home, or just a fan of soft tacos and sipping on margaritas, there are a surprising number of delicious and irresistible Mexican and Tex Mex eateries all over the city. 

Maya

Maya Kids Menu Mexican Food

Despite it's peculiar location – set discreetly within a residential compound, which oddly adds to its charm – Maya is arguably one of the best places for quality and comforting Mex without the Tex. It's a constant hit for modern Mexican favorites, at decent prices, as well as for all things brunch! You'll find everything from taco bar items such as quesadillas, crispy fish wontons and – of course – the tacos, to larger plates like their Roasted Seabass with Sweet Potato and Coconut Purée. They also dish up a great Kingfish Ceviche (¥70) with salsa chino, avocado and almonds – fresh, crunchy and a great mix of not only flavor but texture too. Looking to feed the whole family? There's a great selection of dishes that kids can enjoy from their own menu too from Beans and Rice (¥20) to Chicken and Bell Pepper Tortillas (¥60). Everyone's a winner.

We recommend: Indulging on their weekend brunch deals. With free flow sangria (¥125/person) which seems to magically refill and Huevos Rancheros (¥52) with two perfectly poached eggs in a roasted pepper salsa topped with crispy onion straws, we're sure you'll be savouring every bite.

Find it: Lane 568, Julu Lu, Shanghai Grand Club, 2/F, near Xiangyang Bei Lu

巨鹿路568弄上海四方俱乐部2楼, 近襄阳北路

Tel: 021 6289 6889

Opening Hours: Dinner: Monday to Sunday, 5pm-late. Brunch: Saturday to Sunday: 11am-4pm

Pistolera

Pistolera Chili

Looking for a quick lunch or dinner that all the family will enjoy? Pistolera is a Mexican restaurant that serves up a range of dishes from tacos and burritos to a meaty bowl of ground beef chili in a fun and casual atmosphere. Helmed by Master Chef Tabasco (more formally known as Chef Jorge Leonardo Guerrero), authentic flavors are brought to every dish through ingredients from southern and northern Mexico, in an extensive number of options to choose from.

We recommend: Working your way through a bowl of Chili (¥80). Containing gorund beef, ground pork, beef cubes spiced with a mix of serrano, Guajillo and Poblano peppers, this is sure to keep you warm during the winter months!

Find it: Pistolera Jinqiao, No. 855 Biyun Road, Jinqiao, Pudong

浦东金桥碧云路855号

Tel: 021 5030 4228

Pistolera at The New Hengshan Cinema, No. 838-2 Hengshan Road, Xuhui

徐汇区衡山路838-2号

Tel: 021 5461 0619

Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 11am-11pm; Friday and Saturday, 11am-1am

El Santo

El Santo Interiors

Huge colorful murals decorate the walls of El Santo; a wrestler-themed cantina with a Lucha Libre aesthetic. Located in Found 158, you'll find yourself in the lively surroundings of the flavors, smells and colors of Mexican street food. The menu sees all the traditional favorites alongside a great focus on tacos and tequila, with some offering up the occasional twist. With beef, beans and rice, the Arrachera Taco (¥35/one, ¥90/three) comes with a lovely lime and chili sauce accompaniment. Or, if you're wanting something a little different, Hongos con Queso (¥60) is a decadent mixture of mushrooms, spicy truffle oil, baked mozzarella and manchego cheese served with a basket of flour tortillas. Cheese on cheese – what more could you want?

We recommend: Digging into the Carne Asada Burrito (¥75). Whilst reasonable in size, this dish is packed with beef, Mexican rice, mozarella cheese, a mix of peppers and onions, refried beans, mushrooms, chipotle sauce, sour cream, garlic mayo, pico de gallo and a salsa roja – phew! Pair this with a Michelada (¥65) – the perfect hangover cure, FYI – and you're set for the evening.

Find it: 158 Julu Lu, Datong Mill, B1, Room 5137, near Ruijin Yi Lu

巨鹿路158号地下5137室, 近瑞金一路

Tel: 6333 2181

Opening Hours: Daily, 11am-late

The Cactus

Mexican Salsa

The Cactus isn't rewriting any books, but it is one of those restaurants that will surprise you if given the chance. Nestled in the residential area of northern Jing'an, the exterior is slathered in bright LED light displays that somewhat exaggerate its cantina vibe. The menu is decent in variety, featuring everything you could expect, including Queso Fundido Campechano (¥58) and flavorful “costra” tacos with grilled beef, beans and guacamole alongside a crispy layer of grilled cheese (¥68/two). Or, you could always opt for indulging into what feels like a mountain of Nachos (¥58-80/half, ¥78-90/full) which you might have to, reluctantly, share with your friends or family. 

We recommend: The Tortilla Soup (¥40). The tomato is strong with this one, while the balance of pepper, chili and jalapenos give a great mix of flavor. Topped with crispy tortillas that have been thinly sliced, there's a contrast of texture too.

Find it: 888 Changping Lu, near Jiaozhou Lu

昌平路888号, 近胶州路

Tel: 6226 5256

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am-12am; Saturday and Sunday, 9am-1am

El Luchador

El Luchador Shanghai

In keeping with sister restaurant El Santo, this lively cantina is also great for your traditional Mexican street food favorites – with wrestler masks and artwork in abundance. Alongside classics, minus the burritos, you can find dishes at a higher premium here that are well-presented with its fixings and precise in plating. El Luchador's Xintiandi location is great for impressing out-of-towners, where the restaurant calls a reconstituted 19th century shikumen home, as you treat them to Tacos al Pastor (¥40/one, ¥100/three) and a view of the bustling heart of this downtown locale.

We recommend: Munching on their intriguing appetizers – Corn Lollipops (¥60/three) with a smoked chili dressing, fresh cheese and lemon salt,  as well as their Avocado Tempura (¥60), fried in squid ink and served with green salsa and sour cream.

Find it: 123 Xingye Lu, South Block Plaza, Unit 101 & 201, House 5, Room 101, near Madang Lu

兴业路123弄新天地南里5号楼101室, 近马当路

Tel: 021 6331 0703

45 Yongkang Road

上海, 永康路 45 号

Tel: 021 6433 0201

Cantina Agave

Tacos

There's nothing that Tequila cannot fix, unless your problem is Tequila. Named after the Blue Agave which gives the world said nectar, Cantina Agave is a Taquería and Tequilería in which you can find, not only an extensive number of tequila, but staple Mexican food too. The Green Ceviche (¥65) is a refreshing starter of marinated seabass in fresh herbs, green apple and avocado, while the Burrito Papito (¥65) is your meat lover's paradise with no rice or beans. What's more, there's a free sauce bar where you can find sweet corn salsa, salsa verde, jalapenos and more to accompany a complimentary bowl of tortilla chips!

We recommend: Opting for some of the hard shell tacos here. With a crunchy shell, ground meat, crisp lettuce and finely shredded cheddar cheese, these are nostalgic of Taco Bell and you won't be disappointed.

Find it: 291 Fumin Road, near Changle Lu

静安区富民路291号近长乐路

Tel: 021 6170 1310

357 Hongfeng Lu, near Miyun Lu

红枫路357号

Tel: 021 6886 0706

Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday 11am-12am; Friday to Saturday, 11am-2am

La Coyota

La Coyota Tacos

Quick fix taco bar, La Coyota, serves up your usual Mexican favorites in a takeaway concept. Making it convenient and accessible if you're dashing through the area and looking to ease those hunger pangs. With a new location on Yangping Lu, in Jing'an, you can have your fill of Nachos (¥40-¥65), a heaped serving of Guac and Chips (¥60) – somewhat heavy on the citrus, Quesadillas and Burritos (¥40-45) which include options of beef, pork, chicken, juicy cochinita and more, delivered to your hands in a da bao box. It's a lively little venue where you can relax with a San Miguel (¥25) while watching sports projected onto their big screen.

We recommend: The Cochinita Taco (¥45/two) for a juicy serving of juicy pork, sprinkled with onion and coriander, placed in a flour tortilla. This can end up being quite the messy affair, but isn't that half the fun? With which you definitely have to sip on a freshingly sour margarita (¥40).

Find it: 260 Yangping Lu, near Kangding Lu

洋平陆260号

374 West Jian Guo Lu, near Tai Yuan Lu

建国西路374号

Tel: 137 9546 3808

Cin Cin Cantina

Burrito

Mexican meets Italian at this little hole-in-the-wall, where you can find cheap and cheerful grub. Located in northern Jing'an, CinCin takes its name from the Italian word fof "cheers!" and features red walls and hanging sombreros as its minimalist decor. Soon to be bringing out a more extensive menu, you'll find everything from a solid Chorizo and Potato Burrito (¥38) to a Salame Nostrano Ciabatta Sandwich (¥40). Whilst it may seem like a clash of identities, it's not a bad place if you're in the area and looking to satisfy a craving. You can also take advantages of the daily promotions on offer; between 6pm-12pm Taco Tuesdays sees tacos for ¥15, Wednesday nights sees a free liter of Sangria for women and three free shots of tequila for men.

We recommend: The Chicken and Bell Pepper Quesadilla (¥28). Whilst this was served with tortilla chips that were a little too oily for our liking, the quesadilla itself was packed full of flavor and accompanied by a serving of Pico de Gallo that had a great kick of heat to it.

Find it: 1045 Changde Lu, near Xinfeng Lu

常德路1045号, 近新丰路

Tel: 185 1628 0177

Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-1am

Mayita

Soft Taco

Sister to Maya, Mayita is a smaller restaurant in Shanghai offering up some delightful dishes to feast upon and, in warmer months, a wonderful terrace to relax on with great views of The Bund! The food served is similar to that of Maya, consistent in its upscale modern Mexican-Californian style that's perfect for sharing with friends or family. You'll find everything from Jumbo Chicken and Jalapeños Quesadillas (¥58) and a warming Black Bean Chili (¥58) to cocktails with a Latin American twist.

We recommend: Heading over for brunch during warmer months to enjoy a beautiful view combined with awesome food. The Soft Corn Tacos served with Slow Roast Pork Belly and Mango Salsa (¥28 each) paired with fresh smoothies or bottomless Sangria (¥125/person) are definitely a winning combination.

Find it: 6/F, 98 Shouning Lu, near Xizang Nan Lu

寿宁路98号6楼

Tel: 6334 3288

Opening Hours: Lunch: Monday to Friday, 11am-3pm; Brunch: Saturday to Sunday, 11am-4pm; Dinner: Everyday, 5pm-late.