The taco predates the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico, meaning indigenous people were eating them over 500 years ago. Traditionally just simple corn tortillas filled with small cooked fish, the first written account of a ‘taco feast’ was recorded by Spanish conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo during his campaign against the Aztecs.
Today they’re one of the most popular foods in the world, and the last 5 centuries have created a load of variations, from the hard shell taco to the brilliant breakfast taco – made popular in Texas and exported across the world.
Here in Manchester, we have plenty of breakfast tacos that you can enjoy on a morning, plus every other possible variation and iteration of the dish imaginable. There’s the traditional soft shell, hard shell and even shells made out of fried cheese, oh and probably the most popular version in recent times – the gravy-soaked birria taco too.
So here are our favourite taco joints in the city and its suburbs, each one offering up some of the best tacos you can eat without hopping on a plane and heading to Cancun…
A huge favourite in Heaton Chapel and a venue that manages to do a wealth of Mexican dishes authentically – to even the smallest of details. Their tacos follow this philosophy, made using the best corn tortillas imported from Mexico, perfectly spiced pork carnitas and even Baja-style fish and beef barbacoa. Each one is topped with an array of salsas and pickles which are all meticulously made in-house.
La Capilla, 410 Manchester Rd, Stockport SK4 5BY
0161 442 8440
Opening at the height of lockdown can’t have been easy, but when your tacos look and taste as good as the ones at Birria Brothers – you’ll end up with a queue snaking down half of Oldham Street. That’s what happened back in 2020, all because of these amazing birria tacos, featuring a rich mutton stew stuffed in soft corn tacos with plenty of Oaxaca cheese. The whole thing is then fried and served with a pot of rich, spiced consommé for extra dipping and extra flavour. They’re serving out of Koffee Pot, appearing every Thursday – Saturday from 4pm.
The Koffee Pot, 84-86 Oldham St, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1LE
Southside Tequila Joint
Bursting onto the scene during lockdown in 2020, Southside took over from Solomon’s in Withington and they’ve been absolutely smashing it ever since with a unique mix of excellent cocktails, one of the UK’s largest selections of tequilas, and tacos that start from just £1. Much like Wolf at the Door, these tacos are a bit off the wall, but we love ’em, especially the Bunny’s Buffalo Chicken Tacos (£1.50) and the Lamb Kofta with raita and pickled pomegranate (£1).
Southside Tequila Joint, 447-449 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 4AN
All the Shapes
All the Shapes has been a firm favourite on the Prestwich foodie scene for a while now, and their food menu features a decidedly Mexican slant – including some excellent tacos. They also serve brunch Thursday – Monday until 4pm, which includes their legendary Breakfast Tacos – all done with an attention to detail which leaves many city centre establishments in the dust.
All the Shapes, 8 Warwick St, Prestwich, Manchester M25 3HN
You’d probably think that the last place you’d find tacos is a Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of the city’s Chinatown but with Pho Cue – that’s exactly what you get. Their Vietnamese Tacos (Banh Xeo) are their take on a traditional savoury pancake, but with a modern twist – and they’re outstanding. Available filled with pork, beef, soya or king prawns.
Pho Cue, 52a Faulkner St, Manchester M1 4FH
0161 237 5664
Wolf at the Door
“Killer cocktails, natty wines” and tacos and baos from just £1 every single day of the week. Wolf at the Door is a certified Northern Quarter institution nowadays – and one of the city’s best spots for some seriously creative tacos. Their classic Mexican Pork Pibil (£1.75) is a must, as is their Char Sui Mushroom (£2). Recently they’ve introduced a Chicken Caesar Taco with garlic butter grilled chicken thigh, and they offer regular specials every week.
Wolf at the Door, 30-32 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1ER
It’s not often that you see hard shell tacos outside of the supermarket, but Crunched Tacos arrived early last year and changed all of that. Starting off visiting markets, festivals and food halls across the region, they’ve not settled on a more permanent spot at Sadler’s Yard in Ancoats. Their creations are certainly unique, with their Pulled Pork Tacos coming topped with a homemade Strongbow Dark Fruits sauce. So definitely get those.
Crunched Tacos, Pollard Yard, 15 Pollard St E, Manchester M40 7QX
Not many people know that the excellent Pancho’s do tacos, but they do, and they’re fantastic. Much like their irresistible burritos, Pancho’s tacos are properly Mexican, authentic to a tee using the very best corn tortillas and a choice of their legendary fillings – like their Chipotle Beef, Lamb, or better yet – the Pork in Cochinita Pibil, a BBQ dish from the Yucatán province.
Pancho’s Burritos, 49 High St, Manchester M4 3AH
Luck Lust Liquor and Burn
Inspired by food from the sun-soaked streets of Southern California, Lust, Luck, Liquor and Burn’s menu features the very best that the Golden State has to offer – the perfect mix of Cali and Mexican. So there’s their massive burritos filled with sizzling meats and creamy cheese, nachos and loaded fries, but also in there are a couple of tacos, including their famous Cheeseburger Taco (£3). There’s also Taco Tuesday every week where you can get your tacos from just £2.
Luck Lust Liquor and Burn, 100-102 High St, Manchester M4 1HP
The BrewDog hotel features one of the city’s best rooftop terraces, which in turn also features its very own Taco Hut – serving up something truly special. Sure, their selection is excellent, but there’s one type of taco on the menu here that you won’t find elsewhere in the city – Dorados. Imagine a normal taco but instead of a corn tortilla shell, it’s replaced with a fried cheese shell, which is then stuffed with brisket and then dipped in gravy. Yes, they’re just as good as they sound.
BrewDog Doghouse, 18-20 Fountain St, Manchester M2 2AR
0161 467 1003
This Charming Naan
Taking the concept of tacos and completely re-inventing them for an Indian menu takes some serious cajones, but the lads at This Charming Naan have done it and they’ve actually pulled it off. They recently set up shop up at the Rose & Monkey and Band on the Wall on the fringes of the NQ, and the tacos are made using mini naan bread, filled with a variety of Indian specialities including a wonderful smoky chipotle madras.
Madre joined the roster of food and drinks at Escape to Freight Island, serving up Asado-inspired tacos in mid-2020. They’re set to open up their very own place at KAMPUS at some point over the next few months too. You’ll find a menu full of delights like Baja Fish Taco and Fried Chicken tacos and these beauties are authentic, tasty and literally the perfect food to scoff whilst sitting down and watching a show.
Escape to Freight Island, 11 Baring St, Manchester M1 2PZ
Pretty much a Northern Quarter institution, El Capo is still serving up fantastic tacos every single day in the Northern Quarter, alongside a long list of tequilas and cocktails too of course. From 5pm every Tuesday and Wednesday you can get their tacos for as little as £1, and they’ve recently introduced a Bottomless Taco Brunch too, where every Saturday and Sunday you can get 6 tacos and bottomless drinks for just £35.
El Capo, 12 Tariff St, Manchester M1 2FF
0161 237 1449
Brewski in Chorlton is well known for their highly Instagrammable food – and their menu features a selection of rather delectable tacos. There’s the Surf & Turf (£7.50) with garlic butter king prawns and flat iron steak, BBQ Jerk Chicken (£7) and Deep-Fried Broccoli (£6.50). Tacos are also included in their massive ‘Surf & Turf Sharer’ (£60) which is absolutely loaded with king prawn and crab fries, soft shell crab sliders, butter bacon steak, and sirloin steak topped with prawns and chimichurri.
Brewski Bar, 537-539 Wilbraham Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 0UE
0161 282 8511
Homemade tacos, frozen margaritas and plenty of nachos down at Altrincham Market and Mackie Mayor. You’ll find a range of tacos on the menu – such as the Pork Al Pasto, Slow-braised spiced lamb shoulder, Charred Sweet Potato and regular specials. It’s amazing what they can do from such a small kitchen!
A family-run favourite in Altrincham, Chilli Tortilla is an excellent taco and burrito spot, who have recently started offering the famed ‘birria’ tacos, which come fried with cheese and gravy. A firm favourite amongst the Altirncham locals, this gaff is well worth a visit to the market town to try out.
Chilli Tortilla, 3 Regent Rd, Altrincham WA14 1RY
0161 941 2744