It started out innocently enough. I met my friend Em for a couple of cocktails at my favourite bar, The Academy (formerly The LAB). We were just going to have a couple and go home, but we always seem to end up going out for Mexican market food. It’s something of a tradition now, one that I thoroughly enjoy.
Having already been to Wahaca plenty of times, we decided to give Lupita a go as we’d heard good things about it (apparently it comes recommended by the cultural attaché for Mexico – that’s good enough for me). It feels kind of strange reviewing Lupita before Wahaca (and essentially comparing the two), but Wahaca has been reviewed by plenty of others so I’m just going to do it anyway. I’ll get round to reviewing it soon – I even have photos lined up from last time.
Sorry about the crappy images. As mentioned, it was an impromptu bite to eat and the camera in my poor Nexus One tried its best.
The interior wasn’t too bad. It has small tables and it’s not as big as Wahaca; it felt a little cramped and the seating was kind of uncomfortable. The kitchen is situated in the middle of the room so that you can watch the chefs fry up all manner of Mexican treats. Smells good, if a little smoky.
First thing’s first – drinks. Margaritas, obviously. I am a huge fan of margaritas (as is Em) and these did not disappoint. I don’t go for all this “frozen” nonsense, I just want a classic margarita on the rocks please. At £5 each, these were excellent value. They tasted great – they didn’t skimp on the tequila, and they were using some nice-tasting spirits.
Now the food! Fuelled by two-and-a-bit cocktails we were starving and eager to tuck into something right away. We started by sharing some classic nachos with guacamole, salsa, melted cheese and sour cream.
There was a bit of a mix-up at first and they brought us a massive bowl of guacamole (and I really do mean massive) and a plate of nachos, but they quickly corrected the mistake.
The guacamole was smooth and very tasty, so no complaints there. I actually prefer Wahaca’s chunkier style but this was perfectly fine. There was very little salsa, and the cheese was a bit congealed, but overall they were enjoyable. We were starving, didn’t really care at this point, and silently shoved the food into our mouths.
Our main dishes came half-way through eating our nachos, which was perfect as we were more than ready for them. I had a chorizo quesadilla and a pastor taco (pork fillets, bacon and pinneapple) both of which I attempted to take a blurry snap of, above. They were delicious. The chorizo quesadilla especially was fantastic. They were about £4 each, which I thought was very reasonable.
Em (who is a vegetarian) had rajas con papas queso y crema – strips of chile Poblano cooked slowly with potatoes in a creamy cheese sauce – and hongos quesadillas, which were mostly mushrooms. She enjoyed them just fine, but her opinion was that the food at Wahaca was nicer.
There is also the point that the ambiance wasn’t nearly as nice as Wahaca, which is the only real fault that I have with the place. I know that I keep mentioning the “W” word but it’s so hard not to, as these places are so similar.
On a positive note, we were seated immediately at Lupita. Wahaca gets very busy and you’re often forced to sit in the bar munching on nachos and drinking perfectly-mixed margaritas until your beeper goes off informing you that your table is ready. That was supposed to be a negative point, but I realise that perhaps it isn’t. I now also really want nachos and a margarita.
My overall opinion? The chorizo quesadilla was amazing and better than anything that I’ve had at Wahaca. Everything else was great but not quite as good. The margaritas were of the same quality (which is to say, fantastic). Service was quick and everything came to £34 including tip, which I thought was good value.
I liked it and I’m sure that I’ll be going back, but I prefer “that other place” just a little bit more.