Tag Archives: mexican

La Bodega Negra

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‘Viva la Mexico….’ is all I could say when I saw an old sex shop in Soho being converted into a restaurant. What a wonderful idea to have the shop front remain the same to fit in with the Soho grime and convert the inside into something not so seedy. This would have passers by in a daze as to why young families were popping in with their kids, what a free thinking world???
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Alas, if you didn’t fancy the questionable looks of going into this hidden eatery you could use the other entrance (less fun). The sex shop front only opens at 6pm when the neon lights come alive and there definitely is a difference between the two restaurants. The Compton St tame entrance has a more modern interior and the dirty shopfront entrance is a bit more rustic and charming. Service is friendly, charming and personal which I do like about this place, waiters genuinely offering their opinions on dishes as well as asking about your plans for the day and popping in their own suggestion of what you could get up to in central.

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The cocktails are divine. I can’t remember the last time I had such a tasty mock-tail.

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Food is a bit hit and miss and well I think there were more misses than hits to be 100% honest. The nacho starters were great and the guacamole was one of the freshest and finest, so much so I can probably say that they are rivalling Chipotle here. However, then you have to question how can someone get nachos wrong and can this really be the only silver lining of the food here especially when the nachos are probably not made in house.

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To start with we had pulled lamb tacos which were £18 for 3. I think this is actually rather over priced. We had one taco each which was enough for two bites and it wasn’t the most heaviest in flavours. I am rather sensitive to salt and am never one to add salt to food so I needed to ask Elena and our friend Vish what they thought of the salt content and both thought the taco was overly salty making it not so enjoyable. Not the best start but it kept us knocking back the drinks which increased the tab so maybe there is a thought process behind it.

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For mains Elena and I ordered the Huevous Rancheros with stripped beef. Now, I love this classic Mexican breakkie dish and fell in love with it in Mexico and the Hotbox brunch version of it. Huevous Rancheros is a baked all in one dish with black beans, corn fritters, eggs, cheese and guacamole, please don’t expect this for the La Bodega Negra version. I am always open to developments of dishes as long as they are an improvement. This dish was not an improvement, the only flavour I could taste was salt, again I checked to ensure it wasn’t me being sensitive but Elena couldn’t finish her dish due to how salty it was. The meat was nice but rather on the fatty side which meant again there were bits that couldn’t be eaten. Upon investigation it came to light that the black beans were the culprits of the excess saltiness in our system but it was hard to avoid the black beans as they were covering the base of the plate so were covering all the other bits of the dish.

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Our fried Vish had the chicken fajitas which looked really impressive with the heap of colours and condiments. It looked like fun having to pop each fajitas together. After trying the fajitas we can say it was nothing to rave about. Saltiness was less so than the rest of the dishes we had tried but again it was very apparent in the seasoning of the chicken.
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As much as we loved the concept and the fun features of this quirky Mexican dine it’s a shame the food didn’t live up to the hype.

Worth paying a visit just for a quick picky of the shop front.

La Bodega Negra
16 Moor Street, London W1D 5NH
labodeganegra.com

Las Iguanas

Cocktail anyone? I love Las Iguanas for a number of reasons, the main reason is for their amazing 2 for 1 deal on cocktails. They have an incredible selection of delicious cocktails to suit everyone’s palette. On this particular visit I had a Long Island Ice Tea, Cosmo and a Raspberry Collins. Ha and it was only a Wednesday.

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They have an extensive Mexican inspired menu to suit everyone and well with my picky work colleagues it was a perfect way to keep everyone happy. Lots of dishes have been had but I will only talk about a few.

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Some of the starters that I have on every visit are the: nachos, deep fried calamari and the fish taco. I’ll be honest the nachos are your bog standard nachos but you can not have Mexican food without a bit of nachos and salsa. The calamari is crunchy and spicy on the outside and super soft on the inside. The calamari is served with a garlic aioli which even after I had finished the squid I kept dipping my fork into it and having a lick.

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The fish tacos are lovely. They are served with soft shell tacos and it is topped with the most incredible pickled onions. The cod is battered and sits in a bed of salad. I love how easy it is to pick up and roll the tacos. Out of all the starters the fish taco is by far my favourite with its range of tastes and textures.

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For the mains I can recommend the spicy chicken fajitas and the spicy chicken enchiladas. The portions at Las Iguanas are huge so you will never leave hungry. The fajitas are a whole lot of fun with the different dips and hands on eating as you have to wrap your own fajitas. A lot of finger licking.

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The spicy chicken enchiladas are my favourite. The wrap sits in a pool of re-fried beans. Now Las Iguanas have the best re-fried beans that I have had outside of Mexico so I truly appreciate the amount you get. The wrap is filled with garlic rice and chicken and it’s packed with flavour. Now, top tip from me, ask for some sour cream to dip your wrap in, it’s amazing and the creaminess really works with the spicy flavours.

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Las Iguanas is great place to dine especially with large crowds. The cocktails are delicious and the customer service is impeccable. The friendly staff make you stay that much longer with their friendly banter. We will definitely be returning for some fish tacos soon.

Las Iguanas
Peninsula Square, Millenium Way
London
SE10 0DS
http://www.iguanas.co.uk

El Nivel

Friday night after work my friend asked me to meet her in one of the most exciting Mexican spots in Covent Garden. It was a little tricky to find it, disguised above La Perla bar, accessed through a narrow door. If you don’t have a booking, you must be feeling lucky – place is so small, you will feel like you’ve won a lottery if the hostess lets you go upstairs.

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The size of this restaurant is one of the charms. It felt like you walk into someone’s living room decorated with a massive chandelier and stunning paintings. Being a Mexican restaurant, there was no cactus in sight, which was nice for change. Restaurant was fully booked so we perched by the tapas bar, which was perfect for a girlie catch up with my friend.

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El Nivel is famous for agave spirits. In fact Tomas Estes, ambassador to Europe for tequila and owner of this establishment, was drinking with friends next to us. Unfortunately we didn’t get to try the tequila but settled for some very fancy frozen fruit cocktails.

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So about 15 minutes into our time there the food started coming. We decided to sample a few dishes from every section – meats, seafood and vegetarian.

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Food is Mexican with an Asian touch. You will find your usual tortilla is replaced by Chinese pancake. Which makes it a refreshing dish!

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We also ate pork belly chicharones which were amazing, scallops were even better and garlic and creme potatoes were fabulous. Every dish was delicious, I just wish we didn’t pretend to be classy ladies but rolled our sleeves up and tucked in properly.

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From the first bite El Nivel made it on my list of one of the best restaurants in central and I look forward to bringing all my friends here one by one.

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El Nivel
28 Alto Maiden Lane WC2E 7JS
http://www.elnivel.co.uk