With all the international restaurants in Shanghai, it's super easy to find whatever type of food you're craving: pasta, tapas, burgers or pad Thai, you name it. And then, of course, there's tacos. It's undeniable that the Mexican food craze has hit Shanghai in full force these past few years, with loads of places putting tacos on the menu. Therefore, the question becomes – which ones are the must-tries? From classic Mexican street tacos to tortillas loaded with smoked brisket, we've gone all over town to find the cream of the crop.
Photograph: courtesy El Paisa
El Paisa has been slinging some seriously creative tacos since their opening last summer. With items on the menu like beef tongue, octopus and even a vegan taco with grilled cactus, it's hard to choose just one. That being said, the star that rises above the rest is the El Volcán Asada, a taco that sees a crispy corn tortilla topped with wagyu flank steak, avocado puree and cucumber pico. Top it off with their homemade sauces. Want to try them all? Head over on Tuesdays from 5:30-8:30pm for their all-you-can-eat deal for 148 RMB. Tacos are 55RMB each.
El Paisa, Second Floor, Bldg 5, AUNN, No 60, Lane 273 Jiaozhou Lu, near Yanping Lu.
Photograph: courtesy Bubba's Food Co.
For those who have been in Shanghai long enough, Bubba's is the go-to place for some juicy Texas barbecue. But many may not know the restaurant offers a couple of mouthwatering tacos as well, and the highlight is the Brisket Taco – a flour tortilla loaded with smoked brisket. Expect some Texan twist to your favourite street food where they've replaced the traditional pico de gallo with their own 'pickle de gallo', made in-house. Douse it in some of their house hot sauce for an extra kick. Tacos are 35RMB each.
Bubba's Food Co, Room 103, Bldg 18, 808 Shaanxi Bei Lu, near Kangding Lu.
Photograph: courtesy Maya
Maya has been a destination brunch spot in Shanghai for as long as anyone can remember. But the tacos certainly don't deserve to be overshadowed by the free-flow margaritas and sangria. Maya prides itself in making all of their tacos as good as possible, but there's no denying that one stands out – the Beef and Cheese. Homemade corn tortillas are ordered and used daily to ensure maximum freshness. And as for the toppings, they use 24-hour slow-cooked brisket, cheddar cheese, pickled onions, radishes and pico de gallo. Yum. Tacos are 42RMB each.
Maya, Second Floor, Grand Plaza Club House, 568 Julu Lu, near Shaanxi Nan Lu.
Photograph: courtesy El Santo
El Santo has been another mainstay in the Mexican food realm of Shanghai. From nachos to burritos, there's no denying they have plenty of options to choose from. Next time you stop by, do yourself a favour and try out their Al Pastor tacos. Why? The taco uses pork that is marinated overnight and topped with coriander relish, pineapple and jalapeño salsa, and is served with Valentina's hot sauce on the side. If you're looking for another unique taste to try, check out their Chorizo Tacos while you are there. Tacos are 40RMB for one and 100RMB for three.
El Santo, B1, 158 Julu Lu, near Ruijin Yi Lu.
Photograph: courtesy Tacolicious
Tacolicious is known for their creative takes on Mexican food by combining traditional ingredients with Asian accents. The highlight of the menu, Sichuan Pork, takes both hard- and soft-shell tortillas and stuffs them with twice-cooked pork topped with kimchi. Tacos are 65RMB for two.
Tacolicious, Room 104-105, Tonglefang, 34 Yuyao Lu, near Haifang Lu.
Photograph: Michael MacLaren
Situated on Yuyuan Lu, The Cannery owes its sterling reputation to its high-quality meats and seafood offerings. Some may not know that they've expertly extended this art to taco form. Give the fish and chips a miss and try the Baja Fish Tacos – flour tortilla with fried cod, spicy slaw and pico de gallo – instead. Tacos are 78RMB for two.
The Cannery, 1107 Yuyuan Lu, near Jiangsu Lu.
Photograph: courtesy Cantina
Another go-to Mexican food restaurant in Shanghai, Cantina serves mouthwatering dishes like fajitas, nachos, burritos and, of course, tacos. The most notable of which leans towards the Hunan Cumin Beef. The seasonings and ingredients take inspiration from Hunan cuisine, and man, is it tasty. In the area of spiciness, expect a kick, but nothing too much if you can typically handle a bit of heat. Another notable mention is their Blackened Fish Taco. Tacos are 35RMB each.
Cantina Agave, A Mansion, 291 Fumin Lu, near Changle Lu.
Photograph: courtesy Chihuahua
If you're looking for a place that offers tasty Mexican classics at an affordable price, look no further than Chihuahua. One of their highlights is the Gobernador, a taco that sees shrimp topped with pico de gallo and mozzarella and smothered in chipotle sour cream and guacamole. Wash it down with their popular Michelada, a drink made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices and chilli peppers. Think of it as a Mexican Bloody Mary. Tacos are 65 RMB for two.
Chihuahua, Second Floor, 1788 Xinzha Lu, near Jiaozhou Lu.
By Michael MacLaren