Le Cartel: taco time!

© Saskia Vanderstichele
| Le Cartel stays close to the authentic spirit of the Mexican 'taquerías'.
Onze score

The iconic Mexican street-food snack, the taco is losing its soul due to the onslaughts of the fast-food industry. Fortunately, Le Cartel has come to the rescue.


Ancho’s tacos follow the “Cali-Mex” approach, a Californian spin on traditional dishes. The wheat-based wrap is halfway between the traditional corn taco and the crunchy Tex-Mex version.

El Taco mobil
Born in Mexico, Selene Ruiz-Mendoza criss-crosses the city aboard her Taco Mobil. The menu consists entirely of tacos, with accompaniments such as the super spicy sauce, a small salad, guacamole, and black beans (frijoles).

Los agaves
Food worthy of a taquería: the menu features the essential tacos and quesadillas. They also do frijoles refritos (black bean puree with cheese, served with tortilla chips) and chicken empanadas. All freshly cooked right under the customers’ noses.

Travelling educates the taste buds as well as broadening the mind. The young woman behind Le Cartel is living proof of that. Three years ago, Louise Mostert took a trip to Mexico. The visit opened her eyes to one incontrovertible fact: the vast majority of the food that is sold to us as “Mexican” bears no relation whatsoever to the reality of that regional cuisine. Not to mention a certain large fast-food chain that takes its customers for a ride by serving shameful greasy junk food, even the “small” restaurants frequently do it a disservice: they offer a “Tex-Mex” version of dishes, in other words, Mexican food as revised and corrected by the US. Take the taco: originally a delicate, zesty, and beautifully fresh dish when it is prepared correctly.

On returning to Brussels, Mostert resolved to put an end to the carnage. To achieve that aim, she designed Le Cartel with a set of fundamental components in mind: properly made marinades, homemade sauces, products procured from Latino grocers, etc. In short, she determined to stay close to the authentic spirit of the taquerías, the humble eateries that brought her such joy during her time in Mexico.

The layout of Le Cartel is like a deli where you can choose between a selection of hot dishes or a “taco box” (€14.50 per person) to be reheated at home. That was the option we chose and it blew us away; pulled pork tacos with lime juice, pickled onions, and radish, all wrapped in a soft corn pancake that bore no resemblance to the nacho-like kind that we are accustomed to. The meal was succulent and full of flavour (also available is a vegetarian version with sweet potato, “al pastor” with pork and pineapple, or “marinated chicken” with avocado and “pico de gallo” (a mixture of tomato, onions, and peppers). Perfect for the summer.

Generaal Lemanstraat 19 rue Général Leman, Etterbeek, 0494-25.84.96
Instagram: lecartelbrussels
di/ma/Tu > za/sa/Sa 11.30 > 14.00 & 18 > 21.00

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