Hackney is a hub of creative drinking, dining and live music. An area where street art lines its walls, pop-up events showcase the best of London’s underground talent and somewhere that always seems to be buzzing with new ideas. It seems only fitting that this is where Caldera chose to open its doors. With an ethos of pushing the boundaries and stereotypes associated with Mexican cuisine, this cool new spot caught my eye with its enticing menu, cracking happy hour and artistic edge.
Anywhere that serves two cocktails for less than a tenner is a winner in my opinion (it’s a sad fact that I’ve had to come to terms with since moving here). Of course, I wanted to try every variation of the two for £8.75 margaritas they had on the menu, but I am just one woman and my stomach could not handle that. So instead we opted for a passionfruit and chilli, and a watermelon and pink peppercorn each to start off with.
Despite almost taking an eye out with the tiny chillies that had been cut into devil horns on the rim of my glass, the first was a fiercely fruity punch with a delicious dash of spiciness. The watermelon variation was a lovely contrast, with a fresh, sweet aftertaste. This also went very nicely with the padron peppers (£4) that had been placed before us. Seasoned lightly with madron salt, the natural flavours and slight spiciness really shone through.
As the second round of margs came through, this time a blueberry and a raspberry and rhubarb variation (did we mention, it's two for £8.75?), we cleansed out palates and started to gorge on mains. My choice of mushroom tacos (£7) was one of great anticipation, and they came through. The juiciness of the wild mushrooms was made even more tantalizing when paired with okra, fennel and a smoky mole amarillo. Despite being left with sauce all over my hands (probably because I inhale my food), it was a drool-worthy dish that left me full but not stuffed, especially as it was paired with the moreish garlic ajillo and onion dressing-soaked romanesco broccoli (£6).
Wrapping things up with a sip of mezcal (£8), we watched local hip-hop artists take to the mic, performing a refreshing alternative to the typical sad boy crooning over a guitar. I couldn’t help but draw parallels between this and the restaurant's choice to ditch the stodgy recipes we’re used to seeing, in favour of a cooler and more modern approach.
The DesignMyNight Digest
There’s something unmistakably cool about Caldera, from its fresh take on Mexican cuisine to its reinvention of the classic margarita. Set against a backdrop of art-lined walls with freestyle hip-hop through the speakers, it’s no wonder this place is a new Hackney fave.