On one of my first trips to New York, I was introduced to La Esquina. A retro old diner car, where people line up for tacos.
I was on a date and was more than a little taken a back.
Don't get me wrong, we all know I love street food and sometimes there's just nothing better than popping yourself down on the curb with greasy mittens full of outrageously spicy mexican food. However, having wiggled into an Herve Leger dress for this guy, I wasn't going to be sitting out in the snow.
Smiling, he led me inside to a big metal door which proclaimed "Employees Only" (umm... didn't you say you did something in finance, Mr?)
A man snoozing on a stool nearby gave us the nod and we stepped through the door. We were led down through the bustling kitchen and out into underground, gothic vaults with candles dripping from chandeliers, huge wrought iron decorations & big heavy tables.
An eclectic mix of music pumped from the speakers & the place was packed to the rafters with painfully glamourous, laughing, chattering New Yo'ikas!
For me, it was love at first sight and it only got better as the food started arriving.
Huge plates of tacos, fish, lamb, chicken... you name it, we ordered it.
I love surprises & La Esquina had whisked me off my feet. Needless to say, I was more than a little excited to hear that the owners (who are also the people behind one of my favourite clubs 'The Box') were going to open one in Soho.
I was one of the many punters tapping their feet outside when La Bodega Negra finaly opened & I certainly wasn't disappointed.I shrugged off the idea of blogging about them as I assumed the world and its cat would be reviewing it. However, it has quickly become one of my favourite watering holes & a great place to grab a taco or two. Seeing as I've recommended it to 5 groups of friends this week, I decided it was time to break my blogger silence.
Being in Soho, Bodega is aptly hidden inside a sex shop. I've read all sorts of fuddy-duddy reviews saying how dreadful this is. It's a sex shop not a slaughter house, relax. Even your parents had sex at some point so loosen up a bit!
You walk into a tiny room, where a rack of coats is propped up by a bondage dummy. One of the 'sex workers' will look up and ask you if you have a reservation. (You're more than welcome to say you're just going to the bar, but this is their little code to see if you know it's a restaurant.) Seeing as you're in the know, you'll be led downstairs.
The vaults are similar to those in New York, but do lack a little of the... 'cool'. Although, maybe that's down to us Londoners who create the atmosphere, who knows.
If you're going as a group I recommend ordering a few rounds of tacos and then a couple of mains to share.
The scallop ceviche is my personal favourite, but I'm a sucker for ceviche.
We tend to stay until they kick us out. The music is better than most nightclubs and the atmosphere has this wonderful... naughty feel to it. If you haven't given it a go, or if you're an out of towner planning a trip, La Bodega Negra is well worth a visit.
You'll find them here: 9 Old Compton Street W1D 5JF
But make reservations here: 0207 758 4100 E: INFO@LABODEGANEGRA.COM
(NB: You want the restaurant , not the cafe.) .