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Mexican Restaurants That Won’t Blow The Budget! (Saturday Night Sorted)

Mexican Restaurants That Won’t Blow The Budget! (Saturday Night Sorted)

We couldn’t resist partaking in what is regarded by many as the most morbid of celebrations –  Day of the Dead Festival, a Mexican holiday dedicated to the memory of lost loved ones. Traditionally the day falls on 1-2 November, triggering a spirited, colourful outburst of all things authentically Mexican – great food, lively entertainment, religious celebration and intimate family gatherings. Each year, Mexican graveyards and personal home altars are decorated to the nines with gifts, food and drinks (including that all-important Mexican staple, tequila!) to entice spirits of the dead back to earth.

Who is Benito, and what’s so special about his hat anyway?

Though hugely significant for many indigenous Mexicans, for most of us in the UK Día de los Muertos is admittedly an excuse to eat burritos, recycle our Halloween outfits and pound shots of mezcal as Mexican food joints across the capital put on food and drinks deals and host celebrations. So did FashionBite want to join in the fun? Too right we did! They had us at burrito…

We decided to visit two of the most popular Mexican eateries in Central London to mark this splendid occasion – Wahaca on Charlotte Street, and Benito’s Hat, Great Castle Street. It was time to see what all the fuss was about (and that didn’t take long).A pork burrito at Benito’s Hat…

Benito’s Hat, 12 Great Castle Street, London W1W 8LR

Good Mexican food that’s inexpensive can be hard to come by in central London, or so we thought. On recommendation from a friend, we checked out Benito’s Hat, a lively, vibrant street food mecca with plenty to say for itself. The restaurant offered prizes to those who arrived in fancy dress, so the place was packed with enthusiastic Mexican food lovers (for us, a drawn-on moustache had to suffice).

Feeling greedy, we ordered frozen strawberry margaritas and nachos to start us off. Both were absolutely delicious and came in record time, served to us by the lovely waiter Paul, decked out in full costume that could not have been comfortable to wear in the hot, busy restaurant. Then came our chicken burritos – top marks for portion size (huge) and though they were tasty, these weren’t the best we’ve ever had, as the fillings were already a little cold when they arrived. We’ll be trying pork next time!

If there was any danger of us leaving feeling slightly disappointed, this was alleviated by our choice of dessert. My guest and I opted for the exotic Tres Leche cake and Flan Casero, which catapulted dessert from afterthought status to become the star attraction. The cake, painstakingly soaked in three kinds of milk, was moist, sweet and light – in short, absolutely perfect. The creme caramel flan blew us away –  try it, and ‘melt in your mouth’ will become a meaningful phrase all over again. Benito’s Hat is definitely worth a visit – perfect for a quick lunch or drinks after work.

Wahaca, 19 – 23 Charlotte Street, London W1T 1RL

Next, we thought we’d give the much lauded Wahaca a try, never having been before. We tried out the chain’s newest addition in Charlotte Street, which proudly serves a varied Mexican breakfast menu – something to return for in itself! Converted Georgian terrace houses in the heart of Fitzrovia make up the restaurant, which offers award-winning street food, a first floor mezcal bar, a tortaría market shop.

My guest and I hungrily ordered a selection of dishes from the huge menu with some help from our waitress, doing our best to explore a Mexican street food market from the comfort of our plastic chairs. We settled on a Chicken Tinga Burrito (£6.95) to share, with chipotle, onion and spices, followed by Grilled British Steak Tacos, Chicken Taquitos and Chorizo and Potato Quesadillas – with extra guacamole for good measure! The guacamole was excellent, tasting fresh and homemade, as was the burrito – again, this was huge and very filling – not something to order if you’re tying to watch your weight!

The Chicken Taquitos, aka deep friend tortillas served with Lancashire cheese and spicy salsa, were unlike anything I’ve tried before. We thoroughly enjoyed them but would say they’re a little pricey at £3.95 a dish. Our choice of taco was definitely our best – the tender British steak in these soft corn tortillas was a real show-stopper, while the portion size was not too overwhelming.

All these savoury delights sadly left us no room for dessert, but having spied Chocolate Tres Leche Cake with peanut butter ice cream on the menu, I’ll be going back to give that a go. Like Benito’s Hat, Wahaca is a great venue for a quick, alternative lunch, but save it for when you’re feeling a little flush – the perfect Friday treat!

Having sampled these culinary delights, we know we’ll be celebrating Day Of The Dead every year…

Amy @ FashionBite xx

Amy Everett is FashionBite's food and travel editor, she also writes for national newspapers and magazines including the Guardian Travel, Stylist, Shortlist, Red, Cosmopolitan and more.

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