Bodega Negra

Address: 16 Moor Street, London, W1D 5NH, or 9 Old Compton Street, London W1D 5JF, London, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7758 4100
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Café & Taqueria: Mon-Sat Noon-1am; Sun Noon-11.30pm; Restaurant, Tequila and Mezcal Cellar: Mon-Sat 6pm-1am; Sun 6pm-11.30pm
Door: Make reservation
Style: Tex Mex
Recommended for: Fun/atmosphere
Price guide: Middling
Food: Full menu

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Review last reviewed on 2012-04-03

Two concepts, two entrances, almost one site. The café & taqueria is reached from Moor Street: the restaurant and cellar is reached from Old Compton Street. The former is visible from the street, buzzing and lively, based around an island bar. Think diner, but with Mexican touches, luchadores (Mexican wrestler) posters. They've managed to disguise the polystyrene ceiling tiles with some (Mayan-style?) drilled-in patterns.

On the menu, eight good brands of tequila - no mixtos - in 22 variants. Tapatio is in the speed rail and Herradura Seleccion Suprema takes up the top shelf at £27.10. Jose Cuervo is here, but only in its Reserva de la Familia guise, and the next most-expensive, £9.30. Not the world's biggest collection for a Mexican place, but we've no complaint about quality over quantity. Five of the eight cocktails listed are mezcal/tequila based, including the Ancho Mojito, which substitutes mezcal and tequila for rum, tonic for soda; or there's the Pepino, again mixing mezcal and tequila mixed with cucumber water, agave, and jalapeno. We found these well-balanced and pitched just about right for fledgling tequila drinkers (not total rookies), giving them a tempting and smokey glimpse around the corner from their comfort zone, though mezcal aficionados probably won't be impressed. Friendly, chatty staff too and tasty tacos.

The restaurant, tequila and mezcal cellar is reached from a separate entrance, not that the unsuspecting would think. It's hidden behind a sex shop frontage, and the slightly confrontation greeting and table of sex toys just inside the door gives no comfort that you aren't actually in a sex shop. Make it downstairs, however, and you'll find an extremely atmospheric, low-lit Mexican restaurant with a small bar, where Mexicana/Tijuana touches are balanced with slick contemporary, deconstructed design. It's busy and buzzing. The same drinks menu is on offer here, but on our visit showed little consistency with upstairs: instead, we sampled unbalanced versions of the same drinks we'd had the previous week, with no chat or charisma from the bartender.

Great concept, some teething problems, but nothing that can't be fixed, and not a Mariachi band in sight.

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