For Brits who want to escape the murky stereotypical weather and get some much needed vitamin D, Mexico has become less of a dream and much more of a reality. Warm white sandy beaches, sombreros, tequila; these are all images associated with the Central American country. Swathed in history, old ruins lie waiting to be discovered while margaritas are expertly prepared by locals. It is much easier to travel to Mexico than it has been in the past; more travel companies are offering all-inclusive deals that cost little more than a trip to the sunnier climes of Europe. Not surprisingly, food plays a huge part in Mexico’s charm; burritos, nachos, guacamole and Flan Mexicano are just some of the gastronomic delights on offer . Not long ago it was quite difficult to find decent Mexican cuisine without traveling across the Atlantic. However if you’re in London and fancy a slice of Mexicana, you’re in luck.
London has a host of different and diverse cultures, each bringing native dishes to the forefront of British cooking and eating. Pick any spot, whether it be a station, airport or high street, and you are sure to find restaurants offering all sorts of different foods on each corner. Eateries pop up as if they’ve always been there, enticing the public in on their lunch breaks and for a quick bite after the office has shut. Londoners are hungry, not just for the actual food, but for a taste of the next new trend.
Right now the next new trend is beautiful Mexican food. Londoners don’t want the tired images of Mexican restaurants; fake beaches, fake paraphernalia and waiters pretending to be part of a Mariachi band. Instead they want a chic environment with a boho edge, salsa music, amazing flavours and perhaps a cocktail or two. All of this needs to be available at reasonable costs and a quick turnaround in order to get back to the office or to catch the train home.
However what is striking about this new trend is that it is mainly Brits that have picked up on it and are opening the restaurants, rather than Mexicans themselves. It seems that travellers along with Ex-Pats coming back from Mexico and indeed the USA , (where Mexican food is in abundant supply along it’s border states), are bringing the cuisine back home having realized they have found special flavours which must be shared with the rest of the population.
The streets are becoming adorned with Mexican restaurant options, from Wahaca (brainchild of the British Masterchef winner, Thomasina Miers) to Benito’s Hat. The choices are plentiful. At London’s most iconic airport Heathrow, holiday-makers can start their Mexican adventure by staying in the BW Plus Park Grand London Heathrow the night before their flight, which in turn would earn some points on the Hotel Rewards Programs. After a refreshing night’s sleep they can sample the delicacies in the airport’s Giraffe restaurant by ordering one of the many Mexican inspired dishes, including their signature dish Huevos Rancheros; an egg and tomato based dish with a Latin-American flourish. If this isn’t enough to tickle the taste buds of a weary traveller, maybe a Mexican burger with some tangy sides or sharing platters would do the trick.
The ever popular trend of street-food has also experienced a touch of Mexico, with pop-up stalls offering copious amounts of tequila and tacos. Many non-chain restaurants are now situated throughout the most hip parts of London. Some of them are in the most unlikely of places; Bodega Negra is underneath a sex shop in Soho. Surroundings aside, these independent restaurants offer amazing food and fabulous cocktails, so they should not be ignored by people wanting a Mexican experience. Some will not only offer great food, they offer a great night out too. On the popular Portobello Road, famed for it’s market and antiquities, Santo restaurant has a resident DJ who provides salsa, funk and hip-hop music whilst you sip your margarita and eat your quesadilla.
In the past would-be chefs at home may have had trouble sourcing ingredients to make their sumptuous Mexican feast. In London this is not the case anymore. As people will often dine-in as much as they dine-out, Mexican food producers are increasing in order to supply the ever growing need for restaurant quality food made at home. Among the restaurants it is now possible to find shops selling spices and artisan cheeses that may have been difficult to locate in the past, making it relatively easy to create Mexican dishes only seen before in the country itself. One only has to put “Mexican food ideas” into a search engine and instantly full dinner party menu ideas flash up at lightning speed. People can create authentic dishes at home for their hungry guests, the only real difficulty being their own skills in the kitchen. Recipes for Mexican cocktails are sure to cause a stir among guests and now there are shops able to not only supply the ingredients but also give a run down on how to prepare them.
Mexican cuisine seems to be staying for a while, and now with excellent places to eat and party, this is a trend worth trying out.