We are blessed, if we live in London, with a wealth of gastronomic opportunities. We can indulge in traditional high-end Kaiseki Japanese dinners or humble bowls of ramen. There are Michelin-starred Indian restaurants that even attract visitors from the Subcontinent. Yes, we have plenty to tempt those looking for good food, although it’s often difficult to pick a spot that offers authenticity – we just don’t know.
Mestizo Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar is conveniently located near Euston Station: not on the main Euston Road but the less-trodden Hampstead Road. It’s a restaurant that has been cherished by those that do know, and actually for the last 10 years. Those regulars are not just locals but folks from the Mexican Embassy too, and I assume that they know the real thing when it’s served.
Mestizo has Mexican owners, chefs and staff. This isn’t an overly themed eatery: Mestizo has a few nods to its ethnic roots and the most visible is the bar, which on closer inspection one finds is stocked with the national beverage, Tequila: 260 different bottles at last count – the largest Tequila bar in the UK. There is a popular After Work Tequila Club from Monday to Friday from 5pm – 7pm. But Mestizo has the ambiance of a restaurant first, with serious attention to the best Mexican food, in my opinion, in London.
The name Mestizo comes from ‘mescla’, which means ‘fusion’. It is the result of many influences throughout Mexican history. Mexican food is relatively new to us in the UK. We don’t have a long political association, Mexico was never a colony and we have never had a huge population of immigrant workers. Having said that, we have actually enjoyed Mexican ingredients for hundreds of years. The ubiquitous spud hails from the New World, as does the chilli so prized in our beloved curry, and we think of the tomato as always having been with us but that, too, is a recent introduction.
Mestizo showcases the best of Mexican foods. They present food festivals throughout the year with a focus on particular dishes. There is a Tamale Festival in February, an Enchilada Festival in March, a Chilli Festival in June and a Margarita Festival over the month of August; and finishing with the Mole Festival in November. 2015 is the Year of Mexico in the UK and the Year of the UK in Mexico. One can be transported for a few hours, by just ordering a meal here.
This restaurant never seems to put a food wrong. I recently enjoyed an evening with Japanese friends at Mestizo. We had missed the celebrated Tamale Festival but we could not come to Mestizo without trying them. They are iconically Mexican and would be difficult to make at home. A corn paste is spread on a corn husk and then one of several fillings is added and the tamale is folded and steamed. This is a labour of love but a labour for which I thank the chef heartily.
I ordered Chicken Enchiladas with red sauce for my main course and it was flavourful and comforting. Portions are substantial and beautifully presented. The triumph of visual theatre, however, was my guests’ Molcajete Mestizo. This pot of volcanic stone arrived bubbling with meat, vegetables and sauce. It’s a signature dish here and it’s deliciously memorable. With flour tortillas on the side, it was sufficient to stuff two hungry friends who pronounced the food to be the best Mexican fare they had ever sampled. It should be noted that prices here are very reasonable.
I can recommend The Mexican Sunday Brunch with its ever-changing menu. This event is always colourful and gives the novice Mexican food diner the chance to see the dishes that will likely have unfamiliar names. Some of the usual dishes include tamal, birria, menudo and pozole – which is always on the menu. There are two sittings for this popular brunch: noon till 2pm and 2pm till 4pm.
Mestizo is a favourite with me and I am somewhat reluctant to publicise it too much: I fear that increased popularity will encourage expansion, a possible move to Mayfair, and an associated hike in price. I think it’s perfect just as it is.
Mestizo dates and times:
After Work Tequila Club Monday – Friday from 5pm – 7pm
Mexican Cocktails – from £5.00 – £7.00
Mexican Beer – £3.00
Bottle of House Wine – £12.00
PLUS Complimentary Mexican Tapas with your drink
Mestizo London: 2015 Yearly Events and Festivals
15th March: Mother’s Day (UK)
17th March: St. Patrick’s Day Also Mestizo 10th Anniversary
(Anniversary Party on Wednesday 18th March)
Tuesday 21st – Sunday 26th March: Enchilada Festival
Cinco De Mayo: 5th May
Sunday 10th May: Mexican Mother’s Day
Tuesday 9th – Sunday 14th: Chili Pepper Festival
Tuesday 16th June: Mexican Father’s Day
Sunday 21st June: Father’s Day (UK)
103 Hampstead Road
London NW1 3EL
Phone: 020 7387 4064
Fax: 020 7383 4984
Visit Mestizo here
Monday – Saturday: Noon – 11pm
Sundays: Brunch from noon – 4pm
Dinner from 5pm – 10.30pm
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018