London is now a taco town! Over the last two years, some excellent taquerias and innovative Mexican restaurants have opened. And tacos have been deemed “the food trend of 2017” by some London food bloggers.
So we sent our correspondent, Julia Walsh, to London on a taco tour. We’ll be posting her London Taco Tour updates on Taco Tuesdays!
Here is her latest report:
A few minutes walk from the Bond St. Station, I turned the corner from Wigmore onto James St., and found myself on a narrow lane surrounded by a throng of restaurants and patios. Mole is centrally located among these, with a very trendy vibe. The interior is dark and thumping dance music rolls from inside out into the street. There were only a few occupied tables when I arrived, I sat in one of the bright yellow chairs out on the sidewalk to catch the last, dying light of the day. As a Texan, the concept of daylight at 9 PM is strange and wonderful.
My waiter was upbeat and the bounce in his step matched the beat of the music. I thought I’d already decided which tacos I’d get, but when he mentioned the pulpo (octopus) tacos on special, I caved in and had to try them.
My taco looked like a chap with a feather in his cap! I had to ask what was sticking up out of the top and was told it was a baby corn shoot. The corn shoot tasted like a mixture of greens and super sweet yellow corn. It paired very well with the octopus, which wasn’t as meaty or chewy as I expected, rather it was delicate and silky like ceviche. The sweet corn taste plus the cilantro and onion balanced out the brine of the sea, making for a very light and fresh bite.
My second taco was the chipotle beef short rib, which was piled high and served with a chipotle cream, and crunchy sweet potato hay and a couple of chile slices on top. The beef was incredibly tender but wasn’t the taco I had hoped. I’d imagined that the chipotle would be mixed with the short rib for a sweet and tangy kick, but instead, it was lost in the cream underneath. Maybe I was thinking too much of chopped beef brisket, but I had definitely had high hopes for this combo and felt slightly disappointed.
For my last meal in London, I wanted to have a little fun, so I also ordered the sea bass ceviche. The menu description included plantain chips, puffed/charred corn kernels, chunks of sweet potato along with the onion, cilantro, and lime juice. The additional ingredients were earthy and sweet in contrast with the lime and fresh fish, which made for a delightful mouthful. Ceviche is normally light, but the sweet potatoes and corn gave this dish a satisfying heartiness. I learned later that the sweet potato and corn are part of the traditional Peruvian ceviche presentation.
The tables had been steadily filling up around me as evening light finally gave way to the cool of the night. The street began to wake up. I sipped my mezcal margarita and watched as lights flickered on, the music started to stream in from all corners, and the block went from quietly busy to pulsing and lively. I could have easily stayed another hour and just watched people go by. I enjoyed my dinner and my evening at Mole, and would certainly return to do it again.
By the way, Mole offers their tacos in either a corn tortilla or lettuce leaf.