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Aug 22, 2010 03:19 AM

Lupita (london)

Last night my husband and I went to Lupita, the new mexican restaurant near Charring Cross. You can see the menu at Overall, it was good, but not spectacular. The decor is very clean with some industrial (raw concrete blocks) and rustic (not very neatly stacked dark wood) elements. Concept designer probably sold it as 'modesty funky.' Nothing about the decor says "mexican restaurant" which I think is kinda refreshing. We went around 7:30pm on Saturday night. It was busy but not full. They have been open for a week.

For starters, we had the Guacamole Artesanal (they make it at the table). It was nice, but could have used more lime. Nothing you can't make at home. The Cebollitas Cambray Preparadas were quite yummy. They were fresh (not dried) onions that had been grilled until soft and sauced with Worcestershire sauce. Simple, but very yummy. The Totopos with salsa (v) confused us a bit. The tortilla chips were not homemade. This is one area that they could really improve upon. The salsa was warm, as in had been heated up and served still steamy. I've never had warm salsa before. I'm going to have to read up Diana Kennedy's opinion of it. Googling has lead me to a chowhound post where there are mixed opinions.

The tacos we had were pretty amazing. They were out of Rajas con Papas Queso y Crema. My Pastor taco had very good pork and the spot on combination of pineapple, onion and coriander. Just to give you an idea of the portions, for £3.95, I got 2 10cm soft corn tortillas. Our Nopales tacos were also very satisfying. We think the cactus was pickled and tinned. Nice flavor, though. Once or twice in the past 6 years, we've had fresh cactus at Taqueria.

Our quesadillas were so-so. We very much enjoyed the Huitlacoche. I think this is the second time I've ever had it and was very excited to see it on a UK menu. Our Flor de Calabaza had too much cheese. I love squash blossoms and too much cheese over powers their delicate flavor. These were on flour tortillas that were a bit bigger than the corn ones used for tacos. Again, 2 quesadillas a serving.

In retrospect we should have had a flan and an arroz con leche for dessert, but instead we each had 2 arroz con leche. It was served with a really amazing clove and vanilla syrup. The rice had a nice al dente bite that I can never replicate. Our margaritas were not very strong, but well flavoured. Our bill came to £50.

There are a few teething problems in terms of service, but I'm assuming that they will tighten those up. Everybody was very friendly. I remember having one or two phenomenal meals at Taqueria years ago that far surpass this one, but otherwise would rank this above our experiences at Green and Black and Wahaca. I also hope that they add some aqua frescas and horchata to the menu.

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  1. Nice report, I'll have to keep this place in mind. Is it the type of place you could have a cheap(ish) lunch of just tacos? Or is it more of a sit-down, formal type of feel?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Dave MP

      I, a young woman of indeterminable age and status, would feel absolutely welcome here on my own for lunch. It is quite casual. One could spend under £10 and be full if they avoided alcohol. Their tortas, the bewildered couple next to us ordered one, look quite filling. I'd be very interested in what other think of the place.

      1. re: relizabeth

        Went there on Friday - had a taco with Pork Royal - pork a bit dry like it had been sitting around - salsa was good and menu interesting was in a rush so only had a snack - good place to sit at the bar and people watch - so okay for lone diners - guy at waterloo better though

        1. re: bleep75

          What is Pork Royal? I don't see it on their menu.

          1. re: r.vacapinta

            having a pulp fiction moment - it was the taco carnitas - sure i read somewhere they called it pork royale.

    2. We were very excited to try the place, having felt just ever so slightly deprived of good Mexican cuisine. If this meant slogging through heavy rain for our fix, so be it.

      The menu is definitely Mex-Mex rather than Tex-Mex, and more taqueria than restaurant. Basically this means that one dish each would not make a satisfying meal. But a nice selection of things to share fit the bill nicely, none of us left unsatisfied.

      We have to agree with the original post on the guacamole and the chips. The guacamole was fine but at £7 a pop I could do just as well for a lot less at home.

      The daughter had tacos de carnitas, and although she only allowed us a small taste they were better than just fine. We shared a quesadilla lupita (potato, mushroom and squash flower) and a special dish they call a volcan. These were just fine, but the real standouts here were the sides. Chiles toreados were sublime: roasted chiles with onion and lime served as a warm salad. The chiles were as hot as you could desire and the combination was delightful, not like anything I have had before. The nopales salad was a good counterpoint, rich and slightly sweet to offset the hot.

      Desserts were excellent, arroz con leche and flan simply prepared and nicely presented. The whole satisfying dinner with drinks came to £51.

      We chatted a bit with the people, who promise that they will resolve the chip problem. I asked about the menu, which is at this starting point a bit limited, and was told that they are not experimenting much for the start. But the guy seemed responsive when I told him I would be very pleased if they could bring themselves to offer pozole or birria.

      General assessment: pretty darn good, and stands a chance of getting better.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Gordito

        Cool, great report.

        Can you describe the volcan?

        1. re: Dave MP

          It wasnt so exciting. A crisp corn tortilla with some meat, your choice of mushrooms or nopales, and some cheese. That was my dish but i think both the tacos and the quesadilla were better.

          1. re: Gordito

            How does it compare to the Tomasina Meiers Mexican restuarants?

            1. re: Snufflehound

              The only one I've tried was Wahaca. I thought the food was OK and the atmosphere was nice, but I never had a desire to try it again.

      2. Expert from the land of Taqeria's

        I live in Santa Cruz CA USA, where there are around 40 taqeria's in a city of around 50,000. I know my taqeria's and London is lucky to have one that is this authentic. The reviews I read here missed one of the things that set's a taqeria apart from the rest. Lupita's does El Pastor, and does it well. El Pastor is pork marinated and cooked on a rotisserie in a similar style to the Greek Giro's. But this is not at all the same because of the Mexican marinating and spices. This makes Lupita's special and worth going out of your way to try. Also, they are doing the Pico De Gallo well. The other sign of a really good taqeria. Give this place a chance, as they have more good stuff coming such as more Mexican beers, that are not your typical Corona/Sol (which no self-respecting Mexican would drink). You will soon see Modelo Negra and Dos Equis on tap as well. Also the owner told me he hopes to have Carne Asada soon, when they are able to get the right permits to cook it correctly. This place was a real treat, and having been in England and France for six weeks, it was a real exciting find for myself and my wife.

        2 Replies
        1. re: pbacon3

          i enjoyed a lovely meal here on Friday night. The service in particular stood out.

          I had: The tomato soup, pork carnitas (very good) and a tomato and strawberry margarita which was simply delicious. The food was all good and I love Mexican food, but I wouldn't call myself an authority on the cuisine. Honestly, I think I prefer the food at the Mexican food stall in E&C. Maybe it's something to do with eating out of a cardboard container, that makes you think it's more authentic!

          1. re: Nii


            Was probably there with you Friday. Six of us ate on Friday night. We tried 3/4 of the menu. Some outstanding. A lot good. Some average.

            Will post more shortly.

            No comparison to the real thing in Condesa by the way. Having lived in Mexico for 18 months I was full of expectations.

        2. A fine meal at Lupita.

          Two of us ordered off the set menu (£12.50 each), sharing ceviche tostadas, nopales salad, tacos 'gobernador' (shrimp tacos), tacos cochinita pibil. They were out of most of the set puddings so we both chose ate con queso (guava with cheese).

          Plus 2 Negra Modelos. Damage: about £30

          Best Mexican meal I've eaten this side of the Atlantic.