A bit like pineapple on pizza and chicken tikka masala, what we generally know of Mexican cuisine is a bastardisation. That’s not to say these dishes don’t taste great but nachos dripping in sour cream and cheese is more likely to be found north of Trump’s fictional wall, than it is south. Jorge Felizardo and his business partner, Enrique Vivas, are bringing London proper Mexican food; the pair must be doing something right as they’ve just opened a second Del 74 in London Fields. We headed to the original, Del 74 Taqueria, in Clapton to see the start of the revolution.
Opened by a former musician, the spot is as fun and animated as its owner. Cartoon murals hang on walls, a rocking soundtrack of classics blasts over the stereo and the toilet has been disco-fied with flashing fairy lights. It’s a black-hole sort of place, where evenings start innocently enough with tacos and before you know it, five hours have passed and you’re dancing and shotting mezcal with the bar staff.
Dishes are based on Mexico’s vibrant street food scene and skip out on overloads of dairy and chilli con carne for something more natural and light. Tacos are bite size and sprinkled with tongue tingling chilli. Fish tacos (£3) were zingy fresh with chunks of white meat and a crunchy homemade coleslaw, while the pork ribeye (£6 for two) was a spicy punch of juicy meat and refreshing pico de gallo. Quesadillas were parcels of gooey cheese, the sort of comfort food that you want to cram into your mouth after a bit too much tequila.
A great margarita is an art form, something that the bar team have down as they mixed up three varieties: cucumber, lime and watermelon (£7 with tequila or £8 with mezcal), all worryingly drinkable. With delicious and inexpensive food and margaritas, Del 74 Taqueria was always going to be a hit; it’s the bar staff, amazing soundtrack and lively atmosphere, that make this Hackney spot stand out above the rest.
Del 74 Taqueria is open Tuesday - Sunday, from 5pm on weekdays and 12pm on weekends. Find them at 87 Lower Clapton Road, London, E5 0RN, or at new site, Cantina Del 74, 177 Mare Street, London, E8 3RH.