London is short on Mexican restaurants which deliver the real thing, rather than the dreadful Tex-Mex experience. I’ve travelled extensively in Mexico and adore the street food so I’m looking forward to trying Mestizo, situated between Warren Street and Camden Town.
Even better my visit coincides with their eighth annual ‘Festival de Mole’, featuring a special menu of dishes with different kinds of Mole sauces. They also have special celebrations for the ‘Día de Muertos’ or Day of the Dead with a special altar displayed in the restaurant to welcome back the dear departed.
We arrive on a Thursday night which unfortunately coincides with the Mestizo Taco Night in the space downstairs and the staff are rushed off their feet. Still, there’s a plate of homemade tortilla chips with a green salsa to keep us going while we wait for service. Even better, our Mother Margaritas (£7.90) arrive swiftly and almost make up for the disappointing starters. An assortment of four corn pastry empanadas (£7.80) is rather bland and the prawn Ceviche (£8.80) has a hint of tomato ketchup about it. I’m disappointed that the fiery flavours of Mexico seem to have taken a holiday.
Fortunately all comes right with the main courses. We’ve ordered from the special Mole menu and my Guajalote en Mole Poblano, (£14) – turkey in the famous Poblano sauce, is thick and spicy. It’s difficult to make this at home as you need around 40 ingredients including various types of chillies, nuts, seeds, spices, herbs and, of course, chocolate. We both declare this a big hit and I notice it’s on the normal menu, although with chicken rather than turkey, so can get it year round
Even better is the Pato en Pipian Verde (16.50) – duck in a green mole sauce of green chilli, tomatillo, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, garlic, coriander, lettuce, onion, vinegar, cinnamon and ancho chilli. I like the fact that the meat has been slow cooked for a long time so it’s tender and the sauce is subtle, with a hint of spice, but deeply refreshing. Both dishes are served with refried beans, rice and homemade tortillas which are perfect for dredging up the mole sauces.
For dessert, we could go for the Pan de Muertos, the special Day of the Dead cake, but we choose that old Spanish stalwart, Flan Casero (£3.90) or cream caramel, freshly made in house. The restaurant is now full to bursting and the bar is packed, all good signs that there’s a demand for this type of food in Camden Town.
Of course, this is also a Tequila bar, offering more than 260 types, and it may be these that are the main attraction. It’s a good enough reason to make the journey, but don’t forget to sample the authentic Mexican food and be adventurous in your choice.
Tell me more about Mestizo Mexican Restaurant
Mestizo Mexican Restaurant
103 Hampstead Road, London NW1 3EL
Tel: 020 7387 4064