Last week, I rekindled an old love of mine. Mexican Food. Following a long stint working for Las Iguanas where I had fajitas, tacos and churros at my fingertips for hours at a time, it lost its appeal. Yes, even churros can become old news. But after some reflection, its about time I came back around. So I set La Bodega Negra in my sights after hearing some good things from some foodies at work.
Based just off of Shaftesbury Avenue in the heart of Soho, La Bodega Negra boasts two locations. One being a kooky cafe/bar with most of the main menu to order and no reservations required. The other being a basement restaurant which you apparently enter through a sex shop. Well, it is Soho – what do you expect. With no reservations to our name we visited the former location, which actually turned out to be pretty cool.
Vibrant and eclectic, this dim lit, late night cafe is charming and inviting. Taken aback by the atmosphere, I did that embarrassing dawdle that people do when they don’t know where to look and just scan the perimeter for the host hopelessly. Eventually she saw me and saved me, and was much friendlier than I’d expected. She guided my friend and I to a table at the front, with a window view of the Palace Theatre.
It was a day when I’d been feeling the toll of burgers on the old midriff and was craving something light. Yes, I am human and do have to watch what I’m eating every now and then as my love of food and clothes is about on par. This was an exceptionally tough time for me as there were literally tacos flying out of the kitchen every two seconds and rushing around the tables beside us like freaking Niagra Falls.
For starters, dishes like the Tuna Tostada (Chipotle, avocado & serrano) £6 and Mushroom Quesadilla (Mushroom, spinach, corn, cheese & crema) £7 are up for grabs. A popular dish that I spotted on most tables were the tacos, which come served in a fancy tray with specialised holders – soon to feature in my dream kitchen. You have to order three with this and one of each is £13. Taco fillers include Pork al Pastor (Pineapple & Salsa Verde), Chicken (Crema Mexicana) and Pulled Lamb (Salsa Borracha).
As I was feeling particularly porky, I just went for a main on this occasion. I decided on the Oven Baked Sea Bass, which was served with a salsa and black olive quinoa. My friend ordered the Pollo Al Sarten (half roasted chicken, freekah salad & anticucho sauce) for £13.
Now I love seafood, whether it’s deep fried shrimp at TGI’s, fresh fish and chips on a British seaside or lobster if I’m generally just feeling like a splurge. But I can appreciate sometimes it can be done badly, and this sea bass just exceeded all of my expectations. Soft, light and full of flavour, this fish had me fall silent and wish there were five more plates of it to devour. The only downside was that I was still hungry when I’d finished, this is definitely a place to order multiple courses.
On top of their great food, they have some wicked cocktails on their menu which will take you right back to your girls holiday in Cancun. I ordered the Aztiki, the perfect mix of Havana Blanco Rum, Lemon, Lime, Pineapple, Passion Fruit Syrup and Goslings Black Seal Rum. Downed in seconds. La Bodega Negra decor is shabby retro with a tropical vibe, the walls covered in cool event posters and some fun hip hop and RnB playing in the background.
100% my kind of place and I’ll definitely be back there again for the tacos and churros when I’m feeling a little more indulgent. Basically the way I feel about La Bodega Negra is how Cartman felt about Casa Bonita.