Cantina Laredo

Why go here:

For gourmet Mexican food and their signature guacamole that they prepare for you at your table!

What it looks like:

They could have done a lot more with the decor of the place because when I think Mexican, I expect vibrant colors and happy music instead of the minimalist decor you find here. In spite of the venue being large and airy and being placed right in the centre of Covent Garden, the bare walls and the diner-style seating did feel a bit boring. Thankfully, they do put more effort into the presentation of the food than they did into styling that room.

The food:

You can’t go here and not order the signature guacamole. The waitress brought over all the ingredients to our table. The avocados were smashed, the ‘secret’ spice added and lots of fresh garlic and cilantro thrown in. And just like that, the guacamole was ready in seconds! We were also served a large bowl of fresh warm tortilla chips to scoop up the delicious guacamole. I did ask the waitress if I could make the guacamole myself but she wasn’t too keen to let me play- probably a good thing in hindsight, since it would have taken me much longer.

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For mains, I ordered the Carnitas and the Mole Poblano. The Carnitas consisted of soft corn tortillas filled with roast pork in a chipotle & wine sauce and was topped with lots of fresco cheese while the Mole Poblano was a dish of chicken enchiladas with the chicken cooked in a traditional mole sauce made of over 16 ingredients including chocolate and dried chillies. The mole sauce was smooth and silky and the chocolate-chilli combo worked surprisingly well with the chicken. The Carnitas, however, felt a little dry and could have done with some more sauce in the filling or an accompanying dip, although the pork was definitely very flavoursome.

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We finished with a Tequila cheesecake which was disappointing for me in spite of being a good cheesecake because you couldn’t actually taste the tequila at all! There could have been some tequila in there but the flavour was too subtle for me to pick up over the Madagascar Vanilla in the Mascarpone.

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The Margaritas were decent, albeit a bit too sweet. I ordered the Avocado Passion Margarita which other than being green, was identical to the standard Margarita and the avocado and passion fruit in there were again too mild to detect.

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Verdict:

The menu is extensive and some of the traditional dishes are done really well but the same can’t be said about the house specialties or the modern dishes on offer. So, if you go here, you are best advised to stick to the classics and to leave your urge for Modern Mexican for another day!

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Chico Bandito

Why go here:

For Mexican food served up in very big portions and for the sizzling table Fajitas that you put together yourself!

What it looks like:

Located in an alley just off Old Street, this Shoreditch Mexican eatery is colorful and cheery. The waiters were dressed in Mexican inspired waistcoats and there were sombreros and mini-guitars at hand for the guests to join in too!

The food:

For starters, my friends and I ordered one of their combo tapas trays of which my favourite were the BBQ ribs, which were as sticky and saucy as you can get, though the jalapenos with oozing cream cheese were a very close second, but lost out on the first place due to being a  bit too greasy!

For mains, we all ordered the sizzling table Fajitas. While the task at hand isn’t the most complicated, make-your-own dishes are always such fun and can be quite messy depending on how drunk you are! The sizzling chicken was delicious but the ribeye steak seemed to be the winner amongst my friends, due to being more of a rarity when it comes to Mexican street food, not to mention more filling.

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For drinks, we all alternated between tequila shots and cocktails. My Blue Lagoon Tequila Fizz was the most intensely colored cocktail I’ve ever had but due to the amount of tequila I consumed that evening, the margaritas were more palatable.

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Verdict:

If you’re looking for tasty but value for money Mexican food and wouldn’t mind doing tequila shots and taking selfies wearing sombreros amidst your meal, this is the place to go.