103 Hampstead Road, London, NW1 3EL
Price: £25 per person
I encountered the place on the web, while searching for Mexican restaurants that could satisfy my craving for tamales. Contrary to what is thought of traditional Mexican food, tamales are a quite healthy and light option, traditionally sourced from the humble roots of Mexican cuisine. And they are probably my favourite choice among Mexican food. Tamales are steamed rolls (pretty disgraceful but visual description) filled with meat – pork or chicken – and corn flour wrapped in corn husks. A delight that I had the chance to try during my brief trip to the US-Mexican border in 2008.
Now – what is one of the best things about London? The fact that you can wake up craving for a random food made on the other side of the planet, google it and have it for dinner on the same day. And this is exactly how we ended up dining at Mestizo.
Pretty loud, with pretty basic service, the location and entrance off gloomy Warren Street do not really stand out in the crowd of London restaurants. The waitress then was sure my parents were going to absolutely love their Pacific beer…which turned out to be a resembling-Nastro Azzurro blonde. The food though was quite pleasing and I admit we went twice to indulge the starters of tamales. I have to say I was pretty happy with them hence if you are craving for a bit of London loudness but also for a bit of a Mexican authenticity, this is probably a good place where to start.
The menu is large and varied. We tried the renowned pollo con mole poblano which was quite a surprise. The mole sauce is an interesting combo of cocoa, brown sugar, almonds, raisins, cinnamon and whatever else you might want to add to it. Mind it, it’s pretty thick and filling, hence you might want to limit your dinner if you decide to order this.
We also tried the ceviche de camaron, where the ships were drawing in hot tomato sauce. This did not excite me too much. On the other hand, we had a very nice filete arriero, a nice juicy steak served on sautéed potatoes and onions. Having said that, they do not ask you how you want it done, hence you get it as it comes. As a side to the bounty, I was extremely pleased to find corn tortillas, way lighter then the bulky flour ones and way more Mexican. Served warm and fragrant in this case, I strongly suggest to always chose them over flour tortillas.
After the whole experience, I believe tamales confirm to be the jewels in the crown of Mexican cuisine in my humble opinion, and probably Mestizo’s best shot as well.