Gone are the days when Mexican food was eponymous with greasy burritos and grim tequila shots. A new wave of restaurants has made its way to London and they’re proving that authentic Mexican cuisine extends far beyond the rice, meat and tortillas we’ve come to expect. Rosie rounds up some of the best…
A stone’s throw from Kensington High Street isn’t exactly where you might envision a tropical jungle setting, but Latin American fusion restaurant Zuaya transports diners through its dim lighting and leafy interiors. You can can even close the curtains on your booth, which make this the perfect intimate spot for a date. And the Latin American experience doesn’t stop there. At the weekend, DJs play into the early hours, just as you’d expect in the continent famous for carnival festivities. Fuel your dancing with a mix of Peruvian, Mexican, Argentinian and Brazilian cuisine with a twist of Asian, created by Chef Francisco Lafee (of eponymous El Celler de Can Roca, Barrafina). The dishes are as flavoursome as they are vibrant, while cocktails also pack a punch.
This sleek, stylish Covent Garden restaurant offers eight different types of guacamole, as well as a tequila infusions menu designed to sip and savour rather than knock back with a grimace. If you tend to associate tequila with throat-burning shots hastily chased with lime wedges and salt, prepare to have your expectations – and taste buds – reset with flavours. Think Jalapeño & Serrano Ambar Reposado and Chocolate & Hazelnut Don Julio Añejo. If you’re less in the mood to savour and more keen to get the party started, their Free Flowing Friday and Weekend Brunch offerings feature two hours of unlimited margaritas. Chose from on the rocks or a frozen concoction blended with exotic fruits like mango and pomegranate. Menu highlights include seldom-seen Mexican specialties like Mole poblano and fresh grapefruit and jicama salads. Plus tacos and quesadillas loaded with stringy Oaxaca cheese.
Located within two foodie meccas, Peckham Levels and Mercato Metropolitano, this taqueria specialises in gluten-free blue corn tacos with creative toppings. We love the ‘Tipsy puerco’, loaded with pork shoulder, chicharron, chipotle and tequila sauce. Veggies and vegans are catered for with the ‘Con espinacas’ (spinach and mushroom), while the cheesy quesadilla sticks make the perfect side. Make sure you save room for dessert – the spicy cinnamon chocolate churros are a must.
With a name that means ‘she sings’ in Spanish and a celebrated female head chef from Mexico City, it is apt that Ella Canta is offering a special ‘Power of She‘ 5-course tasting menu to honour International Women’s Day. Priced at £70, the menu includes a glass of Perrier-Jouët Champagne and dishes such as wild mushrooms with ajillo and cheese foam, and seafood rice with crispy soft-shell crab. What’s more, your indulgence will serve a good cause, with £5 from the sale of each menu will be donated to Mazí Mas, a London-based social enterprise that helps women from migrant backgrounds build careers in the food industry. We recommend booking on a Friday or Saturday evening, when a DJ plays into the early hours. You’ll need plenty of time to work your way through the sensational cocktail menu, which warrants a visit to this fabulous destination in its own right. The offers runs from 8-31 March.
Split over two levels, with a restaurant serving food inspired by the taquerias, markets, homes and celebrations of Mexico on the ground floor and a Tequila and Mezcal bar upstairs, Santo Remedio places significant value on authenticity. The owners import speciality ingredients like Pasilla, Serranos and grasshoppers from Mexico to give their dishes a true taste of the Mexican regions from which they derive (Mexico City, the Yucatan and Oaxaca). They also work with local producers like Gringa Dairy in Peckham who produces their artisanal Mexican cheeses. If you’ve yet to try Chihuahua cheese, their enchiladas are a must.
Eschewing the ‘Taco Tuesday’ tradition, Latin American restaurant MNKY HSE‘s new capsule Tuesday bar menu puts Tiradito and Tartare at the forefront. Signature dishes to choose from include Hamachi tiraditos, topped with black truffles; the Tavo Ceviche with tiger prawns, coriander and blood orange; Tuna Tartare accompanied with rice crackers and avocado; and the signature sea bass MNKY Ceviche with sweet potato and aji amarillo. For £20 per person guests can discover the best of the Latin American menu and flavours, alongside optional pairing cocktails made from Mexican Mezcal including a recreation of the classic Mezcal Mule, as well as exclusive MNKY HSE creations such as the Insurgent Fire, Pink Gem or Temptation of Muerte.
Running every Tuesday night in the upstairs MNKY LNGE, live Latin jazz and soul musicians will serenade diners as they enjoy the Ceviche & Mezcal menu, starting with Omar on Tuesday 12 March, the British soul singer, songwriter and musician.
Main photo: Hermanos Taco House
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