Mexican|139-144 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill|£|Have a look!
A personal favourite. On Westbourne Grove and just a few minutes walk from Portobello this little Mexican place serves no frills mexican street food and it is the closest to authentic tacos you would get in London. Service is very friendly and accommodating, food is hearty and margaritas are strong and highly recommended. Love the simple, taqueria style deco – from the formica tables to the Zapata poster on the wall. Can get easily busy in the evenings, especially in the weekends. Make sure you finish off with churros, it may be a breakfast dish in Mexico but it tastes just as good as a dessert.
Try: tacos carne asada, tacos chorizo mexicano and el pastor. Guacamole y totopos. Churros con cajeta. Drink the margarita, ‘straight up’.
Perfect for: duo catch ups, week nights
Brazilian|91-93 Great Eastern St, Shoreditch|Have a look!
I used to love this place when it was ‘Favela chic’ a juxtaposition of shabby favela style and brazilian tropicalia where nothing else was served than cachaca and there was a strict ‘no suit no briefcase policy’. Now it has upscaled the Brazilian geography and was renamed ‘Floripa’. A Buddha Bar with a Brazilian twist. It doesn’t make sense.
Latin|6 Poland St, Soho|£|Have a look!
Ok, has to be said, the only thing Latin here is the deco. There is no tribute to a specific country just ‘latin’ in general, a lot of plastic pineapples, coconuts and palm leaves – tropicalia gone plastic. But the place is relatively cheap, there is a ‘happy hour’, a ‘happy mood’ and cocktails are pretty good. Beautiful people populate the bar after work, quite popular amongst Soho’s media crowd.
Try: the caipirinha
Perfect for: Friday nights
Peruvian|17 Frith St, Soho|££|Have a look!
Great food, ambience and above all really friendly hostesses and staff (can be a novelty in London at times).
Try: drink the Pisco Sour, try the Don Ceviche, beef lomo saltado, tequenos and for liquid dessert the choco toro mata.
Perfect for: duo catch ups, date nights
La Bodega Negra
Mexican|15 Moor St, Soho|££|Have a look!
There are two options for La Bodega Negra. This is the ‘attitude free’ one. Not your average traditional Mexican place but I love it as ambience/crowd is good and music (yes american rock) is refreshing. There is no reservation policy but, Saturday evening aside, getting a table is relatively ok; sure there is some bar waiting but then you get the opportunity to savour some tequila for which coming to a Mexican place you finally get the variety you need.
Try: best espresso martinis in town, tequila ‘straight’ and a lot of it – ceviche roja, tacos camaron, hamburguesa de la bodega.
Perfect for: matey get togethers, duo catch ups
Cuban|Stables Market, Camden|Have a look!
I was quite ecstatic to discover a place with reggaeton in London without having to get off the ‘beaten track’. Best day is Friday, live bands are usually playing earlier then the club transforms into a Pitbull video! Whether this is good or bad I leave it to your judgement but noone lives the venue without having danced. There is a £5 entry after 9pm.
Try: a cold beer! Avoid the food.
Perfect for: Friday nights, matey get togethers, latin dancing
Made in Brasil
Brazilian|12 Inverness St, Camden|££|Have a look!
Best Brazilian food in London and the live bands on Sundays are excellent. It gets very busy in the weekends so make sure you book – best spot is upstairs where you can enjoy the live music. Great variety of caipirinhas, if you need to ‘cheat’ with a different one than the classic, I would recommend the passion fruit caipirinha.
Try: everything I tried here is good! But would especially recommend the coxinha, pastel de queijo, manioca fritz, frango a passarinho, piranha, moqueca.
Perfect for: Sunday evenings, matey get togethers, duo catch ups
Cuban|48 Lower Marsh, Waterloo|££|Have a look!
Very authentic and delicious Cuban food in relaxed colourful surroundings. Cocktails are pretty good too! The restaurant hosts live salsa music on a weekly basis and gets very busy. Whether there is an event or not would definitely advise to make a reservation.
Try: the food menu has plenty of choice but if you eat pork you have to try the traditional Cuban dish of slow cooked pork with rice, beans and plantain. Just like in Cuba! A mojito is of course compulsory!
Perfect for: ‘home cooked’ Cuban food and amazing salsa music