London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Benito's Hat

Various locations

Mexican cuisine has seen an explosion in London in recent times, particularly in the style of fast-food burrito bars. A personal favourite is Benito's Hat, serving delicious burritos and tacos alongside some particularly punchy cocktails. Now with four branches (Covent Garden, Oxford Circus, King's Cross Station and the original on Goodge Street), Benito’s Hat is poised to take over the city .

The combination of potential ingredients is staggering, with each meal containing a meaty filling (or grilled veg for vegetarians), rice, a choice of beans and more toppings than you can shake a sombrero at. Each burrito is made to your specific requirements. If a burrito isn't to your taste, then soft floury tacos provide a great alternative, or for those watching their carb intake, a burrito bowl is all the fillings without the wrap.

We chose a lamb burrito and steak tacos. The lamb barbacoa is a brand new arrival to the menu, following a successful introductory period, and is now a permanent addition to the menu in addition to chicken (either braised or grilled), braised pork, grilled veg and, of course, the steak. The large flat wrap was heated, piled high with juicy lamb, and topped with cilantro lime rice. We opted to top it with black beans, guacamole, cheese, tomatillo salsa and a mild salsa verde. After being bundled together and wrapped in foil, the burrito was almost the size of a newborn baby, and devouring it all seemed like a mountainous task.

Our fear was supressed however when we took our first bite: the lamb was melt-in-the-mouth and bursting with barbecue flavour; the salsa was tangy, not hot, and allowed the other flavours to shine through. The steak was equally as good, if not better, spilling out from three tacos and topped them with rice, cheese, sour cream, tomatillo salsa and hot salsa. The hot sauce was lip-tingling and was perfect for fans of spice like us, but those with more delicate palates should approach with caution. Again, the slow-braised meat was the star of the show though, rich and with real depth of flavour. Three tacos are a filling meal, but these were so tasty we could eat them all day.

Of course, no Mexican meal would be complete without a margarita, and we were delighted to see that these are made fresh by hand with each order. It can mean waiting a moment or two longer for your drinks while they are shaken individually, but it's definitely worth it. We sampled the pomegranate margarita and a frozen strawberry version with both packing a lethal punch. More than a couple of these would have seen us under the table.

Benito's Hat is casual dining at its very best. It's bright, relaxing and fun. The staff are friendly and helpful, although queues can sometimes build up at peak times. The food is a joy, the cocktails are top drawer and we can't wait to go back.

Food and drink: 5/5
Service: 4/5
Value 5/5


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