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La Bodega Negra

La Bodega Negra

La Bodega Negra

Address 16 Moor Street; London W1D 5NH
off Old Compton by Greek Street
Neighbourhood Soho | See on map
Tube Tottenham Court Road [Central, Northern]
Telephone +44 20 7758 4100
Website http://labodeganegra.com/
Price GBP 30-40
Hours Mon-Sat 12-01. Sun 12-23:30. Restaurant opens at 18.

Steve Becker’s La Esquina in NoLita is a bit of a New York institution, the secretive taco joint and speakeasy lounge that counts not so few of the city’s hippest among its regulars. Now the charismatic entrepreneur has hit The Big Smoke and hooked up with London restaurateur Will Ricker (E&O, Great Eastern Dining Room) to recreate some of that Mexicana magic.

Based in Soho, the space is split between the Dining & Lounge restaurant proper and a Café & Taqueria, with lunchtime bites and takeaways served in the latter, which pretty much looks and behaves like a stylized Americana street-side diner. Busy, people pop in and out for bean soup, tacos, and mains like heart of palm salad or quesadillas with chorizo cheese.

For the more authentic La Esquina experience, locate the sex shop door on the other side of the building (at 9 Old Compton St) and get past the bouncer to descend into the hacienda-like basement. A slightly fuller menu has patrons sniffing around for ceviche, tostaditas, prawn tacos, whole sea bass, slow roasted lamb and warm banana bread with cinnamon butter. As in New York, don’t leave without trying the grilled corn.

However, the food is only half the story. There’s a huge selection of mezcal and tequila with over sixty types of agave juice to plow through, ranging from rare bottles to shot-perfect labels for connoisseur slammers. If you’re not quite ready to go hard for the Herraduras, then sample the margarita line-up and slump into one of the dimly lit corners later.