May 1st, 2008



Location: 103 Hampstead Rd., on the west side north of Euston Rd. London. NW1 3EL. (Their other branch is in Madrid.)

It's been years since I tried eating Mexican food in England. I gave up after a few tentative tries out of disappointment. When I wanted some, I bought the ingredients and made tacos at home. This tells you a lot about how little I've experimented with Mexican cuisine at home.

aca, however, had tracked down a Mexican restaurant with a good review and, after a couple of years of having it on his to-eat list, suggested it as a convenient venue pre-Lancashire Hotpots concert. The four of us arrived at Mestizo early enough in the evening that the spacious modern space - it would be industrial chic if there wasn't so much dark wood - was still relatively tranquil. The table held a small pile of tortillas and a bowl of salsa, neither having the depth of flavor I was raised to expect, but decent enough that aca asked for more. We had time enough for improvising our way through courses and service which, when not quite with it, figured it out itself and apologized.

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The food at Mestizo is decent, competent, often interesting, sometimes quite tasty, always at least decent. I would happily go back there. Service was generally attentive, decor pleasant, and even when packed and busy, we could still hear each other talk. But the flavors were restrained, on the whole, less vibrant than how I remember the Mexican food I've usually eaten in the States. If this is as good as Mexican food gets in England, it still has a long ways to go; then again, I've only just begun looking.