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Mestizo

MESTIZO

Last month, Mestizo, Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar, celebrated Día de la Independencia (The Mexican Independence Day) with a special gastronomic week. One of the most traditional, authentic Mexican restaurants in London, the week was designed by Mestizio to showcase the diversity and depth of Mexican food by curating a regionally inspired menu that took guests on a culinary journey around Mexico. For this purpose, the menu included such dishes as pescadillas from Guerrero, to a warming Pollo con Mole from the highlands of Puebla, to the Mexican lamb stews from Birria.

Gastronomic Week at Mestizo is long over, but it was still a good opportunity to experience one of the most authentic Mexican dining experiences one can get in London. Mestizo first opened its doors in 2004, and has long been one of the leading ambassadors of Mexican food in London, often championing this diverse cuisine through special gastronomic events such as the Gastronomic Week seen last month and other events organised in conjunction with the Mexican Embassy. Moreover, Mestizo, has the largest tequila selection in the UK (some 260+) and is proud to share the Mexican’s love of its iconic national spirit through the various tequila Masterclasses, tequila tasting experiences or ‘Tequila and food pairing experiences’ at Mestizo.

Mestizo - London Food Blog - Tequila Bar

Mestizo – Tequila Bar

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Benito’s Hat Farringdon

BENITO’S HAT FARRINGDON

Words and Images by guest blogger @nicolemmapearl (twitter/instagram)

Benito's Hat - London Food Blog

Benito’s Hat

Benito’s Hat Farrington is the perfect place to let loose with some Margaritas and Burritos with friends after work. It was therefore no surprise that the bar was full, busy and bustling, with an amazing neon Mexican hat display at its entrance. Benito’s Hat is a chain restaurant with restaurants throughout London, and it does a good job of providing a funky, cool vibe.

Benito's Hat - London Food Blog

Benito’s Hat Farringdon

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Flavours of Mexico

Last week, The Cookbook Café at The Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane played host to the pop-up event, Flavours of Mexico. The event was designed to showcase the best of Mexican food, namely the cooking of Executive Chef Ricardo de la Vega from the award-winning Frida Restaurant at the five-star luxury Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort. Located on Playa del Carmen, the resort is about an hour away from the popular tourist city of Cancun and about three hours from the famous Mexican ruins, Chichen Itzá. More importantly, the resort hugs Mexico’s sublime West Coastline which boasts of pristine sandy beaches and clear, crystal waters.

Flavours of Mexico is no longer running, but I wanted to talk about the event as the food was so delicious. Chef Ricardo de la Vega was born in Mexico City and has worked for some of the best hotels and restaurants in Mexico, and with this experience has developed a style of Mexican food that delicately balances traditional ingredients with modern, refined cooking techniques. Flavours of Mexico showcases some of Chef Ricardo’s dishes from Frida, and it was a chance for Londoners to get a taste of some Mexican fine dining.

For starters, aguachile, green shrimp and scallops, radish, green apple and garlic scented chips (£12) was a very tasty starter. The seafood was wonderfully fresh and the combination with the acidity of the aguachile was well judged. The prawns and scallop were served whole, and although tasty, my preference would have been for the prawns and scallops to have been cut into smaller pieces for a finer texture.

Flavours of Mexico - London Food Blog - Prawns & scallops

Flavours of Mexico – Prawns & scallops

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Wahaca Westfield White City

Wahaca, the Mexican street eat restaurant chain started by the 2005 Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers, is one of my favourite cheap eats in London. Wahaca do some key things really well. Their vibe is relaxed and chilled, the ingredients they use are always fresh, and the dishes are refreshingly appetising. You can also expect a general level of consistency in the food no matter which branch you visit as most of the prep is done in the centralised Wahaca kitchen on Charlotte Street before being distributed to the various Wahaca branches. And best of all the food is really reasonably priced. And did I mention the yummy cocktails?

We visited the Wahaca at the very smart Westfield White City, perfectly located for a bite to eat after a spot of shopping. We kicked of with some drinks, heading straight for the interesting Tequila Experience (£10.65) which consisted of three separate tequila shots. First up was the cold sharpness of the Calle 23 Blanco which served as an aperitif washed down with sangrita. Next was the Reposado, a tequila with a light and woody flourish that we slowly savoured during the meal. To finish, we had the Añejo Calle 23, an aged tequila which was smooth and mellow with a nice finish. We also really adored the refreshing and not too sweet passionfruit margarita (£6.25).

Wahaca tequila experience and guacamole

Wahaca tequila experience and guacamole

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La Bodega Negra

La Bodega Negra is the London outpost of NYC’s La Esquina, a swanky Mexican café-taqueria from New York nightlife design maestro Serge Becker. Utilise a sex shop as a frontage for a restaurant, give it the pretense of a speakeasy den, and you have the trappings of the latest ‘IT’ venue.

The restaurant can be accessed from Old Compton Street. There’s not a sign in sight to guide your way other than the big number 9 on top of the entrance, so as you enter through the sex shop doors there is an air of the seductive unknown about it. The fashionable dressed maître’d reassuringly lets you know that you’re in the right place, after which you check your coat and then make your way downstairs to the den of exoticism. La Bodega Negra is an upstairs downstairs job, with a ground floor café around the corner on Moor Street.

Cocktails were tasty, but there were many minus points. A supposedly frozen margarita (£8.50) had completely defrosted by the time it reached us, and a passion fruit margarita came out in the tiniest glass imaginable and with so much ice it smacked off being a rip off.

The tostadas in a serving of sesame tostadas with guacamole (£5.50) were very crunchy and really well done. The guacamole yielded a creamy, smooth texture, but had been blended to dilute the flavour of the avocado. The portion was disappointingly tiny.

Sesame tostadas with guacamole

Sesame tostadas with guacamole

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Lupita

Lupita is one of the latest Mexican restaurants to open in London (the other one that comes to mind is Cantina Laredo on Upper St Martin’s Lane in Covent Garden, right next to Jamie’s new Italian restaurant). Housed on Villiers Street, it’s in an unbeatable location for all the passing traffic that runs between Embankment tube and the Strand. Lupita is an offshoot of its sister restaurant in Mexico City, El Farolito. It bills itself as the first truly authentic Mexican restaurant in London although I suppose most restaurants would call themselves authentic. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

To start was a nachos clasicos (£5.45), Mexican tortilla chips topped with melted cheese, red salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Actually we should have been munching on the nachos Lupita, a meat version with strips of beef and black beans. But the restaurant got our order wrong and brought us the clasicos instead. But as the service was a bit chaotic – we got our food before our drinks – we decided not to bother having the restaurant correct our order.

Nachos clasicos

Nachos clasicos

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