La Bodega Negra
OK, forget everything you know about Mexican restaurants. Soho’s La Bodega Negra is dark, a little dingy and very naughty. The sign outside says “sex shop”, which is your first clue that your dining companions had better not be your family members. The latest in themed London eateries, La Bodega is concept heavy but offers solid authentic Mexican without all the chihuahuas and sombreros.
The interior is dark, loud and pays ample homage to gritty noir films with a little bad juju thrown in. Wanting to take the almost Lynch-y/Mexican vibe to the extreme, the owners risked putting up xenon lights outside promising a “peep show” with flashing pink lips. Inside, the atmosphere is more creepy nightclub than restaurant, and the chefs take care to really dress up the admittedly small portions.
The food is Mexican enough with some welcome surprises – think a sea bream done with a tiger’s milk and jicama salad, pulled lamb tacos and mackerel ceviche with lime. The menu also offers a gorgeous lamb shank served on a wooden platter, a seafood cazuela (something like a saucier paella), pork belly carnitas with salsa verde and a substantial selection of tortillas, tostadas, corn chips and platters with a little bit of everything.
There’s the obligatory dulce de leche and churros for the dessert offerings, but also a surprising panna cotta option and some pretty good coffee. Cocktails are pricey but add to the general experience. Expect to pay around £25 tops for a good meal per person, but your best bet is to order more than you think you’ll need. Prices are a little on the higher end but it’s not often a restaurant comes along with quite such a novel take on one of the most played-out cuisines in the world.
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