El Camion Mexican – Soho, W1

Impressive cocktail list and fresh Mexican food at El Camion and The Pink Chihuahua in Soho.

Probably the first thing to make you smile on entering this basic cafe-style restaurant is the vast collection of pepper sauce bottles on four shelves that run right along the back wall, and the Mexican wall art including day of the dead paintings.

The second is likely to be the impressive cocktail list – it’s vast! I ordered a cadillac margarita (tequila with lemon juice and grand marnier) @ £9.50 and H had a tequila espresso martini (tequila with kahlua, tia maria and espresso) @ £9.50. Along with the friendly service, this was an excellent start.

 

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Cadillac margarita and tequila espresso

 

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Margarita and tequila drinks selection from the extensive cocktail list

 

This Mexican menu takes inspiration, apparently, from the Baja Peninsula in North West Mexico.

We ordered a few starters to share (we thought they’d be light but they were pretty filling): guacamole – a generous bowl of fresh guacamole @ £3.50, tortilla chips again, a generous portion @ £1.50, chipotle salsa – very hot and fiery pepper sauce @ £2.50, and chicaron described as being like pork scratchings but probably more like Quavers (we left most of these), a large portion served with a bowl of guacamole @ £3.95.

 

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Chicaron – ‘pork scratchings’ with guacamole

 

For main course – along with a bottle of Malbec red wine @ £26.00 – we ordered mixed botanas a sharing platter comprising three tacos, three tostados, three quesadilla slices and three jaladas (jalapeno chillis with cream cheese, or ‘poppers’) @ £24.00, and you can choose your own fillings.

 

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Mixed botanas – 3 tacos with slook cooked pork, 3 tostados with slow cooked chicken), 3 quesadilla slices (spinach + mushroom) + 3 jaladas

 

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Jaladas – jalapeno chillis stuffed with cream cheese, deep fried in bread crumbs

 

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That’s a lot of pepper sauce!

 

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Basic cafe-style interior with colourful table coverings
 

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Loos by the Pink Chihuahua cocktail lounge in the basement

 

Too full for dessert, H had an amaretto @ £8.00 (a double) and I had a sparkling wine @ £6.50 as a digestif. Altogether, our meal for two came to £114.41 including service.

 

The verdict: No fuss, no frills Mexican food with an enticing cocktail menu.

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Mexican
~ Address: 25-27 Brewer St, London
~ Postcode: W1F 0RR
~ Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus
~ Website + menus: El Camion website
~ Photos on flickr: images of El Camion
~ Location: El Camion map

 

El Camion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spanglish Mexican Kitchen – Chicago

Brunch bliss in the form of a bacon burrito

My last morning in Chicago before heading over to O’Hare involved a last-minute shop along South State Street, where I passed Spang-lish Mex-i-can Kitchen.

Initially attracted by the restaurant’s name, then the menu options, and price, I ventured in. It was an easy place to go in and eat on my own – a simple diner where you order and pay at the till then wait (with enough interesting artwork to keep you occupied) until your food arrives.


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Art @ Spanglish – this piece is by Stefani Villanueva (seemingly a self-employed designer in the Chicago area but I can’t find your website. If you happen to see this post, contact me + I’ll link to your website here…)


I ordered a breakfast burrito @ $5.75 – a giant flour tortilla filled with a base of beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream – and opted for the bacon and egg variety, with a side of guacamole and tortilla chips @ $3.00.


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Breakfast burrito with guacamole + tortilla chips


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Bacon and egg burrito – packed with fresh ingredients


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Giant burrito – so stuffed it stands on its ownor is it a Spanglish work of art?


Including a bottle of water @ $1.10, my entire brunch meal came to $10.00 (about £6.50). Outstanding value without compromising on quality. Very pleasing.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Mexican, cheap-eats
~ Address: 555 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
~ Photos on flickr: images of Spanglish Mexican Kitchen
~ facebook page: Spanglish Mexican Kitchen on fb
~ Location: Spanglish map


RELATED LINKS
More Chicago dining:
~ Gilt Bar
~ The Gage tavern
~ Howells & Hood
~ Tesori


Spanglish Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Panama Hatty’s – Tarporley, Cheshire

We were five girls spending the weekend together in the Cheshire countryside, wanting somewhere fairly *handy* (injoke) to go and eat and hang out on the Saturday evening.

Panama Hatty’s – a country pub – is in the middle of nowhere (I don’t think that will offend any locals – I expect you’d choose to live here precisely to enjoy the unspoilt countryside) on the A49 in the small village of Spurstow (population around 400). You could easily drive by, blink, and not notice it.


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Panama Hatty’s on Whitchurch Road (A49)


But S and J are more observant than that, and had spotted it while driving passed the previous weekend and very considerately done a recce.

So last Saturday, we made a fairly last minute booking (the only time a table was available for a group of five was at 8.45pm) and turned up early to enjoy cocktails in the huge, comfy bar area with eclectic ornaments and furniture including these amusing chairs:


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Comfy bar chairs


The bar and restaurant areas are both large, and given that both were busy (bar staff were run ragged but still hospitable and attentive, while all dining tables were booked) it was instantly obvious that this place has a great reputation for miles around, as you can’t rely on public transport to get you here.

After a cocktail by the fire in buttock seats, we were shown to our table. Ordering a bottle of prosecco @ £24.95, it was no quick task to read the extensive dinner menu – a mixture of British, Mexican and international cuisines.

I ordered a main course squid Thai sizzle @ £14.95 (served on a skillet of stir fried vegetables with a dressing of lemon grass, ginger, coconut milk and lime basil with coconut rice and hot flat-bread) which was superb. The ‘dressing’ was thoughtfully served separately in its own gravy boat (so the customer could add as much or as little as they wanted) – the sauce’s lemon grass and coconut flavours added a lovely contrast to the spicy flavours of the sizzle and ginger; the squid was perfectly tender; while the flatbread was nothing special (it didn’t have the taste or appearance of being freshly baked, more like a re-heated supermarket flatbread) but that didn’t detract from the overall meal in any way.


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Fragrant squid Thai sizzle


The vegetable burrito @ £10.50 was a hit (tortilla filled with sautéed onion and peppers, salsa verde, Cheddar cheese, soured cream and Latina rice and roasted vegetables). Even though there’s an extensive range of steaks and burgers on the menu, there’s plenty of really good vegetarian options too.


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Vegetarian burrito – just look at that melted Cheddar cheese…


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Massaman chicken Thai curry


Both the Massaman Thai chicken curry @ £12.95 (chicken breast fillet, Thai seasonings and herbs served with coconut rice and hot buttered flat-bread) and chicken fajitas @ £13.95 (served on a skillet with onions, red and yellow peppers and flour tortillas) were devoured with much enthusiasm.


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Chicken fajitas


I opted for a Glenmorangie digestif over a dessert (did I mention I was *stuffed*) but if you’ve got a sweet tooth, it’s worth saving some space for a grand finale. These desserts are something else.


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Selection of desserts including a strawberries + cream waffle


The verdict: If I lived anywhere near here, I’d be a repeat customer every weekend. All round great stuff.

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: International, British, Mexican, country pub
~ Address: Whitchurch Rd, Spurstow, Tarporley, Cheshire
~ Postcode: CW6 9TD
~ Nearest (main) station: Probably Crewe – it’s miles away from anywhere
~ Website + menus: Panama Hatty’s website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Panama Hatty’s food
~ facebook page: Panama Hatty’s facebook page
~ Location: Panama Hatty’s map



Panama Hatty's on Urbanspoon

Wahaca – Stratford

We went to the first National Paralympic Day on Saturday at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (it was a great day, especially watching wheelchair basketball in the Copperbox) and wanted to have a sit-down meal somewhere nearby.

We quickly eliminated The Cow pub (unnecessarily expensive and fairly soulless) and settled on Wahaca (having only eaten at the Covent Garden branch where food is fine but service is hit and miss, and there’s high demand for tables and a fast turnover so you can’t really relax).

The Stratford branch felt light and airy with lots of space by comparison. We were able to get comfortable and take our time here. And service was good, chatty and entertaining too.

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Wahaca Stratford – light, bright + spacious


Interesting, arty decor includes lamp-shade tins over the tables, and ‘walls’ of empty water bottles.

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Chipotle peppers tin lamp-shade over tables


We shared a load of ‘street food’ (small plates) between us, “all cooked fresh from daily-fresh ingredients” our waiter was happy to tell us – a good selection of lots of tasty treats.


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Taquitos (left) and Tacos (right)


We had:

TAQUITOS
~ Chicken: marinated + tender with shredded lettuce, Lancashire cheese and salsa @ £4.00
~ New potato: with feta, shredded lettuce + habanero salsa @ £3.60

TACOS
~ Pork pibil: slow-cooked in a special Yucatecan marinade with fiery onion pickles @ £3.95
~ Grilled British steak: with grilled cheese + salad @ £4.85


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Chicken tostados, black bean tostados, black bean quesadilla


TOSTADOS
~ Chicken guajillo: chunks of chicken marinated in a chipotle dressing, with crunchy salad, etc @ £4.00
~ Black bean: re-fried beans topped with avocado salad, etc @ £3.80

QUESADILLAS
~ Black beans + cheese @ £3.60
~ Chipotle chicken @ £4.15

SIDES
~ Sweet potato: crispy fried chunks of sweet potato dressed with smoky caramelised mojo de aja @ £2.95 (loved this, must get more next time!)
~ Spicy slaw @ £2.30
~ Frijoles: rich, creamy black beans cooked twice, served with crumbled cheese @ £2.50

DRINKS
~ Modelo Especial(s) @ £4.00
~ Modelo Negra @ £4.00
~ Shiraz: served in a nice tumbler rather than wine glass @ £4.85
~ Anejo: Calle 23 @ £4.05
~ Mezcal: El Recuerdo de Oaxaca Blanco @ £3.50

PUDDINGS
~ Churros y chocolate: Mexican doughnuts/ deep fried batter @ £3.95
~ Dulce de Leche: salted caramel ice-cream with shavings of Vairhona chocolate @ £4.25

A very enjoyable meal with lots of different flavours to try, and very reasonably priced (total bill came to £78 excluding service, for four of us). Waiting staff changed shifts while we were there, and both of the waiters who served us were outstanding (fast and efficient with the food and drinks, but also chatty and amusing with it). Thumbs up Stratford.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Mexican
~ Address: 6 Chestnut Plaza, Westfield Stratford, London
~ Postcode: E20 1GL
~ Tel: 020 203 288 1025
~ e: stratford@wahaca.co.uk (no table reservations)
~ Nearest station: Stratford
~ Website + menus: Wahaca website
~ Photos on flickr: pics of Wahaca food
~ Location: Wahaca Stratford map
~ Open Mon-Sat: 12pm – 11pm; Sun: 12pm – 10.30pm



Wahaca on Urbanspoon

Taquitos Mexican Grill – Pimlico

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Taquitos Mexican Grill on Wilton Road

If you’re in Pimlico and want lunch on-the-go for less than a fiver, then the Artisan Market food stalls on Tachbrook Street offer an impressive variety of street food, from Caribbean to Middle Eastern to Greek, Indian, and Thai. It’s freshly made, good value and you’ll be spoilt for choice (I can heartily recommend the falafel or any of the middle eastern vegetarian wraps; just make sure you’ve got a bit of an appetite – they’re huge!).

On the other hand, if you prefer to sit in somewhere to eat (rather than munching in the street and dribbling down your shirt) then head to Wilton Road.

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Taquitos’ colourful interior

Opposite Pimlico Fresh and two doors down from Seafresh you’ll find the inexpensive Taquitos Mexican Grill, a small, clean and colourful cafe where service comes with a smile and if there’s a table available you can be seated and eat the likes of a pulled pork salad with avocado, cheese and salsa for £4.25.

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Pulled pork with avocado and mixed salad @ £4.25


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Pulled pork flour tortilla tacos @ £4.25 with extra avocado @ £0.70


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Mexican
~ Address: 78 Wilton Road, London
~ Postcode: SW1V 1DL
~ Tel: 020 7828 0231
~ Nearest station: Victoria, Pimlico
~ Sample menu: Main menu
~ Photos on flickr: food images at Taquitos
~ Website: Taquitos website
~ Location: Taquitos Wilton Road map


RELATED LINKS

More Pimlico dining:
~ Seafresh
~ Pimlico Fresh


Taquitos on Urbanspoon

El Poco Mexico en Ford del Cat – CLOSED

Update May 2014: CLOSED
Sadly, El Poco Mexico has closed. ‘Marrakech Express’ has opened at 129 Rushey Green (yet to be reviewed by Lardbutty). And so, a chilli-infused moment of silence for all the tostadas that are never to be…


Char-grilled chicken, onion and pepper strips straddling chunks of avocado, tomato, a blend of grated cheeses and greens with a spicy hot sauce, freshly squeezed lime and a house-concocted ‘secret’ salad dressing, in a crispy tortilla shell.
El Poco Mexico redefines salad.

The first time we ate at this Mexican diner in Catford last year, K and I shared a tortilla basket salad as a starter. There were almost tears: I was so full I couldn’t eat my main course (on the plus side we shared a pitcher of margarita @ £18.90). That torment will stay with me, but so does the excitement of having a salad every time I come here to eat in or take-away (yes, I said excitement and salad in the same sentence) whether it’s steak, chicken, peri peri prawns or regular.

Both the steak and chicken salads are served with char-grilled, slightly caramelised onions and peppers giving them the edge over other salad varieties. Along with the ‘tostada’ crunchy basket shell, this makes for a really hearty main course.

Never has salad been so satisfying. And filling.

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Salad superior: chicken fajita salad @ £9.95

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Steak fajita salad @ £10.50

A nicely kitsch bar area is topped with sombreros to try on and amuse yourselves and the kids (it’s a very child friendly place with really friendly service) – it’s easy to feel at home here.

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Are you being served? – sombreros and sunglasses

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El Poco Mexico has been open for a couple of years now, and – along with the Catford Bridge Tavern, Sapporo Ichiban and Mekan – is putting Catford firmly on the map as an area to go to for food and drinks in London.

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El Poco Mexico on Rushey Green, Catford


More of the menu

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Tortilla Espanola + chorizo frito al vino starters – a light and fluffy omelette and chorizo in a red wine and tomato sauce @ £4.50 each

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Beef burritos @ £10.50 + old fave, chicken fajita salad in a tostada shell @ £9.95


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Mexican
~ Address: El Poco Mexico, 129 Rushey Green, Catford, London
~ Postcode: SE6 4AA
~ Tel: 020 8698 0671
~ Nearest train station: Catford Bridge or Catford
~ Website + menus: El Poco Mexico website
~ El Poco Mexico photos on flickr
~ facebook page: El Poco Mexico facebook page
~ Location: El Poco Mexico map


RELATED LINKS

More Catford dining:

~ Catford Bridge Tavern
~ Sapporo Ichiban
~ Mekan


El Poco Mexico on Urbanspoon

El Chicos – great Mexican at Streatham Hill

If you don’t like sombreros , you won’t like El Chicos. There’s a fun, novelty Mexican feel about the place, with lots of Mexican memorabilia and sombreros everywhere (even before yours truly trips up the small step in the middle of the floor and then ends up with a head inside the coat cupboard, mistaking ‘cloakroom’ for ‘toilets’, much to other diners’ entertainment).

It’s a quiet Monday evening, about 9pm, and we’ve come on the spur of the moment as we were in the Streatham Hill area and were hungry.

There’s latino music playing, it’s softly lit (quite dark with colourful, swirling lights sweeping across the walls), and service is great (perfectly timed).

A good ten minutes is needed to study the extensive drinks menu that includes beers, wines, sangria and many cocktails, before we share a starter – a plate of calamari @ around £6.00, served super hot with salad and a special sauce (nothing amazing but all perfectly agreeable).

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Calamari starter

For main course, we choose sizzling chicken and steak fajitas @ £11.95 (served fresh and steaming hot and very tasty) and tropical BBQ chicken with pineapple salsa dip, nachos, rice and mixed salad @ £11.95 (again, all very tasty and outweighed our expectations).

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Tropical BBQ chicken skewers

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Sizzling steak and chicken fajitas

A great little find, I’d happily eat at El Chicos again if in the Streatham Hill area.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Mexican
~ Address: 62 Streatham High Road, London
~ Postcode: SW16 1DA
~ Tel: 0871 075 8930
~ Nearest station: Streatham Hill rail
~ Facebook page: El Chicos on FB
~ Location: El Chicos map

El Chicos Mexican Cantina & Cocktail Bar on Urbanspoon