Mestizo in Camden
The area between Warren Street and Mornington Crescent is lifeless at best, but despite the strange location, a bustling Mexican restaurant has been attracting food-lovers from around London for eight years.
Mestizo is a modern-looking restaurant with some nods to Mexican tradition. The walls feature Aztec art, such as a large turquoise ceramic dragon. Oddly this beautiful Aztec art is simplified by a very large open space, with walls painted red, white leather sofas, and a crowded dining area.
We started with a drink from the tequila bar, a Fresh Fruit Mother Margarita (£8.50). Unfortunately, despite ordering the strawberry version, a mango margarita was served. But it was still refreshing, contained chunks of fruit pulp and was clearly freshly made. The tequila was not too overwhelming.
For dinner we tried the delicious Molcajete Mestizo (£16.00), the house speciality of beef, avocado, chorizo and cilantro served bubbling in a large volcanic bowl, imported from a market in Mexico City. It also came with tortillas, charmingly kept warm in a colourful patterned mitt. We tried the very intriguing Enchiladas de Mole (£12.50), a Mexican speciality served with a mole sauce containing over 20 ingredients, including chocolate. Unfortunately, the mole sauce was a bit too much – it was dark brown and covered the whole plate. It was difficult to differentiate the flavours, the chocolate was certainly overpowering but accompanied with a very hot chilli powder; it was definitely a regretted choice.
Dessert was better. We opted for the dessert platter to sample a bit of everything. Excellently presented were four different desserts. A particular favourite was Pastel 3 Leches (£4.20), a soggy sponge made out of condensed milk with a sweet cream topping that was extremely light on the tongue. The Pastel de Queso y Coco (£3.60) was also delicious – a cream cheese and coconut cheesecake, topped with mango puree.
The atmosphere at Mestizo was very electric, but maybe that was because everyone was drinking tequila. A couple of birthdays were celebrated, which required a large Mexican hat and a mandatory shot. It was also Jueves Mexicano (Mexican Thursday) downstairs and thumping bass music could be heard throughout the restaurant. Upon further investigation, the real party was discovered: crowded into a tiny room, young people were downing shots of tequila, dancing, and eating tacos. It was like another world.
Photos: Zee Omar
To book a table at Mestizo, 103 Hampstead Road, London NW1 3EL, call 020 7387 4064 or visit here.