Address 103 Hampstead Road, NW1 3EL
Phone 020 73874064
Web site http://london.mestizomx.com/
Main dish price range £9.80 - £24
Rating 4 Stars. It's got a 3-star dinner, a 4-star brunch, and a 5-star tamale
Recommended dishes Tamales and Pastor Tacos
London, of course, is a long way from Mexico-- the land of Coronas, sun, and ceviche. And Nick, as many of you know by now, is originally from California, probably the best place to find perfect Mexican food in the United States. (I'm dreaming of taco trucks as I write these words.) So, you could say we were highly skeptical when a group of charming London School Economics alums we met told us they'd found the spot where real Mexican nationals go to pick up their tamales and eat authentic Mexican food. Immediately, we were intrigued. Could this exist? And... would it be the next best thing to tacos on the beach in Tulum?
The place our new friends recommended was Mestizo, a nicely appointed restaurant with red walls and white tablecloths just a five minute walk from the either the Euston or Warren Street tube stations. Knowing it was slightly more sleek than the usual place we review here, Nick and I decided to first try this restaurant on Valentine's Day, and our meal there quickly started off on a real high note. The Tamales (£5.40), our first appetizer, struck the perfect balance. Peeling back husk revealed a mouthwatering soft and lightly moist dose of masa flour, wrapped around a generous meat filling. For the two tamales that came with our order, Nick and I opted for the delicious puerco con salsa verde (pork with green salsa) filling-- which had the perfect amount of kick-- and also the queso con rajas (cheese with peppers), a classic. Our meal was off to an auspicious and authentic start.
|Answering a craving: The delectable Tamales at Mestizo.|
Next up, we chased down our tamales with the restaurant's Sopa de Tortilla (£6.50), a nearly perfect fresh tomato soup with bits of fresh, homemade, corn tortillas sprinkled throughout. The accompaniments that came on the side were also a particular highlight, and we enjoyed the white, crumbly cotija cheese, as well as the fresh avocado and bits of dried chilies. As loyal readers know, Nick is never one to turn down a good opportunity to devour his share-- and often my share-- of chilies, so being able to sprinkle them liberally is always a plus.
|A good back-up Valentine's date: Mestizo's divine Sopa de Tortilla.|
|More Mole? I'm not so sure.|
|Bring on the bland: Mestizo's Pollo Ticul is a unmemorable mashup.|
When it came to the regular buffet food, there were also some real highlights. Cerdo en Pipian, a pork in green chili sauce, had a great flavor and was kept piping hot, and a chicharron en salsa verde was also particularly delicious. Bonus authenticity points go to Mestizo for also offering nopales, a type of cactus widely available in Mexico that our friend had yet to find anywhere else in London. The one thing I'd leave behind, however, was the flan dessert, which was soaked in an overpowering orange syrup that overshadowed the flavor.
Overall, Nick and I are definitely planning to return to Mestizo, most likely on a Sunday afternoon. (Writing this now-- on a Sunday, in fact-- I'm hearing Mestizo's call.) Also worth noting for the younger and more party-minded than us: Mestizo also supposedly has a world class selection of 160 tequilas, served at a bar downstairs that Travel and Leisure magazine once dubbed the "sexiest" tequila bar in all of Europe. Party on, Wayne-- or better yet, Waynitos.