London’s Top Three Tacos – La Bodega Negra Joins The Club

by timchester

Look lively, El Camino, Buen Provecho and Adobo, there’s a newbie in town and they just booted the last one of you out of the Taco Top Three. And as for El Camino on Brewer Street, best get the staffs’ P45s ready, because La Bodegra Negra is set to show Soho a really good time.

La Bodega Negra Cafe 14

Much has already been frothed over this Soho upstart, brought to us by Will ‘Eight Over Eight’ Ricker and Serge Becker, a New York restaurateur who’s had the phrase “nightlife legend” surgically stitched onto his name by all and sundry (not least for opening the infamous Box last year).

And rightly so, really. It has all the elements we want and expect from a new opening. With a buzzy cafe slapped on Moor Street and a subterranean restaurant located behind the facade of an Old Compton Street sex shop it’s about as Soho as it comes and has mastered the art of spot-on simplicity that’s worked so well for Meat Liquor and Russell Norman’s ventures.

Margaritas of course weren’t as lethal as their Mexican, or even Californian, counterparts (there’s a place in Palm Springs were you can literally feel the units stacking up against your cerebral cortex as you drink), but they were acidic enough and did their utmost to usher memories of the day’s red-flagged emails to the door. Our rims were salty despite our initial protestations but then this is opening month.

A ceramic pot full of chewy, tomato-stewed chorizo provided a perfect amuse-gob when spooned into generous lettuce leaves with a sprinkle of coriander (and a sprinkle of that herb is all you need, really. I’m not a hater but it can be noxious in the quantities some places serve it) but it was the tacos that won our hearts and minds.

Contrary to some early reports I thought they shone. Sure, they’re far too small (their diameters were equal to most other places’ radiuses, maths fan) but the fillings – perfected by consultant chef Richard Ampudia, who comes from Mexico City via La Esquina – were insanely good.

Sadly they forbid the mix and match, so we only got to try two. Conchita pibil pork was tender, juicy and packed full of tomato and lime notes, its salsa verde fresh and clean. De camaron salteados on the other hand, recommended by our chirpy and irrepressibly enthusiastic waiter in a t-shirt with drawings of a suit on it, was even better – big fleshy prawns bathed in a creamy, spicy sauce that, and which is rare, was neither too creamy nor too spicey. A perfect succession of moderate mouthfuls to set you up for a night in London’s playground.

Chipotle, you just got served.

Why there are no good Mexican restaurants in London

Price per head: About 15 quid.
Soundtrack: Mumford & Sons and The Beatles jostled for airspace on our visit.
Other reactions: Four stars from Time Out but Gourmet Traveller wasn’t so keen (they took great photos however).
La Bodega Negra on Urbanspoon

{ 2 trackbacks }

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May 31, 2012 at 6:33 am
A Mexican in London | Arts & Life
March 25, 2013 at 5:07 am

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicola Marchant May 16, 2012 at 11:07 pm

‘Amuse-gob’: love it.

What are cocktail prices like? I’ve opted for the Mestizo restaurant in Warren Street tomorrow night… I’m now a little concerned that it hasn’t made your taco hot list…


Eder G May 20, 2012 at 11:11 am

If you want good ( not proper, hard to find anywhere outside Mexico ) Go to mestizo on Th, downstairs. The atmosphere is quite similar to that in Mexico and the tacos are very good. As Mexican myself, it’s all about the food, not so much the pretensions deco. Just remember, Mexican food is NOT fast food , so any ‘restaurant’ that serves it as such, then it’s telling you it’s not good Mexican food, even Mexican street food requires a good pre-preparation method. Eder G


timchester May 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Reasonable, but they’re pretty small…

Love Mestizo, but it’s pretty pricey for what you get…


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