Mestizo – Warren Street

Reviewed on February 29th, 2012 by Dina

Mestizo was a place recommended for a dinner out and a get together with friends. It does not provide your standard run of the mill Mexican food. At Mestizo, you get something that is different and special. It’s not the first time that someone has recommended this Mexican restaurant, so I was more than happy to give it a try!

The warm atmosphere is set by its tones of deep reds and browns for the décor. There was a big bar area at one end of the restaurant, displaying all the shelves of spirit bottles! Downstairs, there was also a floor dedicated to private dining.

Mestizo has an extensive menu which ranges from small dishes, specials, tacos to the classic chilli chocolate mole dishes. We were given some tortillas with dips to start with. It was a decision between the tacos and one of the specials. I chose the vegetarian Chile Rellenis De Flor De Calabaza Y Queso.

The Chile Rellenis De Flor De Calabaza Y Queso was a pablano pepper filled with courgette flower, sweetcorn, courgette and mozzarella. The pablano pepper had a soft texture and it was melt in the mouth. The little silver pot of beans was topped with a sprinkling of cheese. Together with the rice, beans, pepper and vegetables, this made for a satisfying tasty meal!

The waitress told me that this pablano pepper dish was not cheese heavy, so I was pleased about that. When the main course was served, the pepper was covered in a yellow layer. I just assumed that this was cheese. But after tasting it, it was a sweetcorn sauce which I was definitely happy about!

A couple of friends opted for the Taco Tray! This was presented beautifully. Twelve individual bowls filled with the different meats, salsas, guacamole, beans, onions, sour cream, sauces and garnishes! A small basket contained the soft flour tortillas. Again, another filling meal.

The staff were really friendly and attentive at Mestizo. As we were a fairly big group dining, we all arrived at different times. But as soon as each person arrived, we were asked what we would like to drink. It was not like we had to look for the staff, they just came to us, which is the way it should be.

Even when we needed an extra seat at the table, the staff did not complain. They swiftly put an extra chair on our round window table.

The evening out at Mestizo was thoroughly enjoyable! Great food, good company and a fun catch up time with friends from near and far!

Mestizo, 103 Hampstead Road, London, NW1 3EL

Rating: ★★★★★

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Benito’s Hat – Covent Garden

Reviewed on November 25th, 2011 by Dina

Benito’s Hat has a colourful and vibrant interior with an orange and green theme! These fresh and striking colours are reflected in the food! There’s a funky mural on the back wall towards the bar area of the restaurant. All these elements set the theme of a relaxed eatery!

The restaurant is made up of a long communal high wooden table with many high chairs. There are also seats against the wall with scattered cushions and some window seats, if you fancy watching the world go by!

At the counter, there is the vast array of rainbow coloured fillings to choose from! These include rice, beans, chicken, pork, salad items, sauces and garnishes! The food is all fresh and locally produced where possible.

A vegetable burrito makes for a filling and satisfying meal! The fillings that I chose for my vegetable burrito were refried beans, cilantro lime rice, grilled vegetables, guacamole and salad. The vegetables were a good mix of peppers, courgettes and chayote.

There are a choice of sauces depending on how spicy you would like your meal. Or for something mild, there is always the option of sour cream. The other choice of fillings are grilled chicken, tender chicken thighs, grilled steak, braised pork and some seasonal specials.

I’m always surprised at how much is packed into a burrito and also how the staff manage to wrap it all up into a neat tight roll! The burrito was served with some lovely fresh tortilla chips!

Benito’s Hat does fantastic tasting burritos but if you fancy something slightly lighter, then they also have smaller tacos, homemade soup and salads! The salad is basically all the fillings and toppings, without the tortilla wrap!

The staff are extremely friendly and gave us lovely service. We were definitely given service with a smile! All throughout the meal, the staff came to see if everything was ok and if we needed anything else. They also made sure that the dining area remained clean and tidy by clearing up the tables straight away.

Even though the burrito was extremely filling, after a while, we decided to share a dessert! The bunuelos were crispy cinnamon tortilla strips and vanilla ice cream. It was served in a martini glass! A lovely dessert, not too heavy, and it hit the spot just right!

Benito’s Hat has some interesting drinks on offer! One of them was the horchata which was a sweet milk based drink. The drink that I preferred was the hibiscus one. It had the strong purple colour like blackcurrant but its taste and flavour is a lot softer!

Benito’s Hat does great quality fresh tasting Mexican food! All the elements of Benito’s Hat are just right, from the food, the atmosphere, the drinks to the service and staff!

Benito’s Hat, 19 New Row, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4LA

Rating: ★★★★★

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Chimichanga – North Finchley

Reviewed on October 14th, 2011 by Dina

A mid week Mexican lunch meant a visit to Chimichanga! The restaurant is really spacious and has the booth seating on a raised level at the back. The interior is made up of large stone arches and large wooden posts!

It had to be the classic nachos to start with; this would also give us time to decide on the rest of our meal! The sharing appetiser of chicken nachos fit the bill perfectly. We were presented with a huge bowl of crispy tortilla chips, topped with chunks of chargrilled chicken, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa! There was no disappointment with these and we happily munched our way through these delights!

Seen as I had filled myself up on the nachos, I couldn’t face having a main dish as I assumed that they would be big portions. So I opted for the side dishes of Mexican rice and black beans. This was a good combination and the rice was not too spicy. The beans were whole and not mashed up like refried beans. It was a filling meal, even though they were side dishes!

The rest of my family had the wraps! These were huge and were generously filled! They were served with chips. I’m glad that I did go for the lighter option as I definitely wouldn’t have managed to have such a big meal!

The staff were friendly and gave service with a smile. They did not bother us through the meal once it had all been served. It meant that we could have a relaxing lunch and did not feel that we were being rushed!

Chimichanga has a good menu with lots of choice! It’s a nice place to go to for a gathering with family and friends!

Chimichanga, Unit 2b Chaplin Square, Great North Leisure Park, Finchley, London, N12 0GL

Rating: ★★★★★

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