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Mexican wrestlers square up as Lucha Libre returns to London

© Ambra Vernuccio

The Greatest Spectacle Of Lucha Libre is back at York Hall
© Ambra Vernuccio

Mexico’s best fighters are returning to London this summer for The Greatest Spectacle of Lucha Libre. For two days in June, spectators will gather in York Hall to see masked superheroes battle it out in the ring. A host of wrestling legends and new Lucha stars will take part in exciting live confrontations of Good vs. Evil. Expect to see flamboyant costumes, acrobatic moves and high-flying fun.

For those who don’t know, Lucha Libre – which translates as ‘free fighting’ – is a Mexican style of wrestling where the participants perform acrobatic moves and high jumps while dressed in flamboyant outfits and masks. Fighters generally fall into two groups: Rudos (the bad guys) who break the rules and use underhand tactics and Técnicos (the good guys), who follow the rules and wow the crowd with more complex moves.

This year marks 100 years since the birth of one of Mexico’s greatest Luchadores, El Santo. His son and one of Mexico’s top Luchadores El Hijo del Santo and his grandson, Santo Jr, will be taking to the ring. Other Luchadores flying in for the big fights include Nacho Libre star Silver King, the Liberace of Lucha Libre Cassandro, the highflying luchador Laredo Kid, WWE mini wrestler Mascarita Dorada and the original Octagoncito.

Meanwhile, during the two-day extravaganza, there will be authentic Mexican food and cocktails so you can really immerse yourself in Central American culture.

  • The Greatest Spectacle of Lucha Libre takes place on 23 – 24 June 2017 at York Hall, 5 Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green, E2 9PJ. Nearest station: Bethnal Green. Doors open 7pm. Tickets: From £20. For more information or tickets, visit Lucha Libre World website.

For a guide to what’s on in London in June, click here.

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Wrestlers assemble! Three days of Mexican food, fighting and culture as Lucha Libre comes to York Hall

© Olivier Ouadah

Electrifying: Mexico’s acrobatic masked superheroes will put on a show at Lucha Libre at York Hall
© Olivier Ouadah

This July, Mexico’s best fighters will be converging on London for three days of fighting, revelry and fun. The Greatest Spectacle Of Lucha Libre will feature Mexican masked superheroes, Bolivia’s Fighting Cholitas and the UK’s own Lucha Britannia battling it out in a retro-style Mexican Arena at York Hall in East London. As well as the action in the ring, there will also be Mexican street food, Agave cocktails and special edition Lucha Libre beer, carnival dancers and cabaret acts.

Hijo del Santo

El Hijo Del Santo will be taking to the ring

For those who don’t know, Lucha Libre – which translates as ‘free fighting’ – is a Mexican style of wrestling where the participants perform acrobatic moves and high jumps while dressed in flamboyant outfits and masks. Fighters generally fall into two groups: Rudos (the bad guys) who break the rules and use underhand tactics and Técnicos (the good guys), who follow the rules and wow the crowd with more complex moves.

Every day will feature different shows, including family-friendly matinees, a huge Grand Finale and a wild Friday night cabaret for adults-only. Headling the show will be Mexico’s greatest luchador, El Hijo del Santo (The Son of The Saint), along with some of his country’s top luchadores.

Meanwhile, before the three-day extravaganza kicks off, two films about Lucha Libre will be premiered at Oval Space on 8 July. A screening of El Hombre Detrás De La Mascara will be followed by a Q&A session with El Hijo del Santo and producer Gabriela Obregón, with the second film, Mamachas Del Ring followed by a Q&A with Carmen Rosa and director Betty M. Park plus a conversation with ‘The Queen of the Ring’ Cassandro El Exótico. There will also be two after parties on 9 and 10 July at the Resistance Gallery.

  • Lucha Libre takes place on 9 – 11 July 2015 at York Hall, Bethnal Green, E2 9PJ. Nearest station: Bethnal Green. Tickets: £20-£45 (discounts available for children). For more information or tickets, visit Lucha Libre World website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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DF/Mexico review: Self-service, tacos and free drinks refills… eating Mexican NY-style

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Mexican street food: Fish tacos at DF/Mexico

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Once you’ve seen the menu, you can order on the self-service touch screens

DF/Mexico is the newest venture from the people behind Wahaca. I’ve long been a fan of the Wahaca chain and Mexican food in general and am thrilled there’s finally decent Mexican food in London after years of nothingness. A close friend, who like me has also travelled around Mexico and is quite discerning when it comes to its cuisine, recommend I try it… before the name completely slipped my mind. Then on a Friday afternoon in Shoreditch, I accidentally stumbled upon DF/Mexico and instantly remembered it as my friend’s recommendation. The DF in the name is what Mexicans refer to Mexico City as, aka Distrito Federal. The premise is a modern Mexican diner serving street food. There’s no reservations and an unusual self-service system, so if you’re looking to be treated, then maybe this isn’t the place for you. However, if you’re looking for filling and tasty food and don’t have much time on your hands, this is a good place to stop.

My sister and I visited for a late lunch and were pretty ravenous by the time we arrived. We claimed a table before studying the menus – featuring a mix of burritos, tacos, salad and grilled chicken or meat. Once we were ready to order, we headed to one of the self-service touch screens, where you put your order in. I found it pretty simple and straight-forward, despite the lack of interaction with a human. We both ordered some of the bottomless soft drinks at just £2.30, which was very appealing if you’re particularly thirsty. I’m a fan of Hibiscus – a flavour I don’t find very often – so enjoyed a few glasses of it and it was pretty gorgeous I must admit. In addition to the usual soda, the venue is also licensed and serves Mexican classics such as Frozen Margaritas or Sol and Pacifico Clara beers.

Upon returning to our table, we didn’t have to wait long for our food to arrive. I ordered the MSC Fish Tacos, served helpfully upright in a taco tray. Cooked in Panko crumbs, the cod was filling and tasty – not too oily – and served with red coleslaw and Chipotle mayonnaise, which gave it a bit of a kick. Admittedly, I could have ordered more, but the lateness of the day being caught between lunch and dinner meant I was forced to reel in my appetite. Overall, the venue was light and contemporary and we felt quite comfortable stopping by for our quick eat. The food and drink were really good and the prices were very good value. Definitely a pit stop to refuel at next time I’m in Brick Lane.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Thirst-quenchers: Unlimited refills of ‘Aguas Frescas’, in either Horchata, Hibiscus or Lime and chia

  • DF/Mexico, Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, E1 6QR. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street. for more information, visit the DF/Mexico website.

For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.

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¡Salud! Unleash your Latin spirit at Putney’s new Mexican party spot El Patron

© El Patron

A taste of Mexico comes to Putney at El Patron late night bar

Putney has long been a nightlife hub for South West Londoners. Amid the traditional pubs, chain restaurants and cheesy nightspots, there has been lacking of some cooler venues until now. Thankfully, El Patron is set to change all that. Located just a few moments from Putney station on the Upper Richmond Road, this new late-night Mexican bar will be offering over 60 tequilas, a range of cocktails and authentic street food.

© El Patron

¡Salud! A Strawberry Margarita

I went to the launch last week and have definitely found a new spot to party at next time I’m in Putney (which is quite often, given I have relatives nearby). Set over two floors, the upstairs part of the venue is a wide, light and airy space with lots of tables for those wanting an informal meal. The menu comprises popular Mexican street food, such as burritos, tacos and quesadillas. Meanwhile, the intimate basement bar’s interiors continues the Mexican theme with its bright wooden shutters and exposed brick with some dancefloor space to shake a tail-feather.

At the launch, we headed straight down to the basement where we treated to a preview of typical weekend revelries that El Patron is expecting to host. Tequila-based cocktails were the main attraction, with the talented bar staff swiftly whisking up concoctions for the thirsty guests. The drinks menu features a mix of traditional Mexican spirits and Latin twists on originals, such as Mariachi’s Martini (Patron XO Cafe, Espresso, Agave and Mozart Dark Chocolate). I went for my favourite Mexican tipple, ‘Tommy’s Margarita’, an icy mix of Arette Blanco, Agave, Lime, with the mixers toning down the tequila so it didn’t blow your head off. My friend opted for the refreshing and delicious Poncho (Arette Blanco, Coconut Kalani Liquer, Lime, Egg White, Peach and Orange Bitters), as she was looking for something a bit more subtle. Other cocktails which caught the eye, (which I will have to return to sample) were Escobar’’s Secret (Mezcal, Crème de Mure, Vanilla Syrup, Lime, Apple and Ginger Ale) and, certainly not for the faint-hearted – Scorpion (AquaRiva Blanco, Stone’s Ginger Wine, Lime, Chipotle, Falernum Liqueur, Ginger Beer and Bitters). In addition to the individual cocktails, which range from £7 to £9.50, there are also large sharing cocktails for big groups who want to share the love.

Open six days a week, weekdays are likely to be a calmer affair for mid-week drinkers and diners, with the venue opening until late at the wilder weekends with music. The house band will perform on Fridays, while DJs will entertain until the early hours on Saturday nights. The atmosphere was lively and unpretentious, with the great entertainment and spirited staff keeping the party vibe going. I’ll definitely be going back for a weekend night out and to sample some of the street food.

© El Patron

As well as the extensive cocktail and tequila menu, punters can also order Mexican street food upstairs

  • El Patron, 141 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 2TX. Nearest station: East Putney or Putney (national rail). Open: Mon/Tues: 12-11pm, Wed: 12pm-midnight, Thurs: 12pm-12.30am and Fri/Sat 12pm-2.30am. For more information, visit the El Patron website.

For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

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Por fin! Mexican food is finally making waves in London

© Amy Lorna Smith

La Bodega Negra. © Amy Lorna

For years – and still today in some quarters by people who clearly haven’t done their research – London hasn’t been renowned as a foodie destination. However, anyone who lives in the capital, knows this is wrong – we have some of the best restaurants in the world… FACT.

For tourists, I could easily see why they may fulfil this ‘bad food’ myth by making poor restaurant choices. You go to Leicester Square, Oxford Street, etc and… how can I say this without setting myself up for legal trouble… the well-known chain restaurants in the immediate vicinity are not the best we have to offer. These establishments usually lack variety, character or taste. Whenever I talk to people visiting, I am often embarassed on behalf of London when they tell me about a disapointing meal they’ve had somewhere.

One tip I always say to visiting friends and family (of which I have A LOT… I have Irish ancestry!) is if you don’t have access to the internet on your smartphone to find a restaurant recommendation, is simply head down a side street near whichever tourist area you happen to be near. Not that I can guarantee a michelin-starred culinary experience, but restaurants slightly off the beaten track have a better chance of giving tasty food.

Anyway, enough of my tourist eating advice, this post is meant to be about my jubilation that London is FINALLY cottoning on to the fact that people want to eat Mexican food.© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

I backpacked around Mexico in 2005 and became a huge fan of their food – burritos, tacos, fajitas, churros… I love them all. But when I got home to London, it struck me how few Mexican restaurants were here. We have every cuisine going – the UK seems to be much more open to world cuisines than other European cities I have been to – but barely any Mexican restaurants. My need for decent Mexican was further fuelled during a 2008 trip to California/Nevada/Utah. I ate a lot of take away Mexican from places like Taco Bell (no judgements!) and Baja Fresh… of which my expanded waistline at the end of my holiday could attest.

After years of complaining about this, suddenly a host of both takeaway lunch places and restaurants serving Mexican are cropping up – Benito’s Hat, Wahaca, Chilango… the list goes on. Although many are ‘chain restaurants’ (which can be a dirty word for discerning Londoners), I’ve actually been quite impressed by some of them.

A few weeks ago, I had the chance in the dine in the hot new restaurant of the moment – La Bodega Negra in Soho. Prince Harry, Kate Moss and… er… Kelly Brook have all been spotted eating and/or drinking there recently.

I ate in the bar area, which has a reduced menu from the main restaurant. They had me at ‘Pisco Sour’ – a South American cocktail consisting of Pisco, egg white and lime juice, which I had drank when I backpacked in Peru in 2003. Fortunately the food turned out just as good, and somewhat of a departure from most Mexican restaurants – many of the dishes were tapas-like portions so a friend and I shared tostaditas and quesadillas. I was expecting fajitas or burritos to be the dominant options on the menu like other Mexican places I have been, so this was a refreshing change.  The staff were knowledgeable about the cuisine and friendly and the prices are very reasonable. Thumbs up!

Good Mexican restaurants in London

  • La Bodega Negra, 9 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 5JF. Nearest tube Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road
  • La Perla, 28 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7JS. Nearest tube Covent Garden or Charing Cross. One of the original Mexican restaurants in central London. I first went in 1997! Very good margaritas and tequila selection.
  • Benito’s Hat, 56 Goodge St, London W1T 4NB. Nearest tube: Goodge Street. Chain of Mexican bars and kitchens. Other branches in King’s Cross, Leicester Square and Oxford Circus.
  • Chipotle, 114-116 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H OJR. Nearest tube Tottenham Court Road. The popular U.S. chain comes to London. Great place to pick up a takeaway burrito for lunch. Other branches in St Martin’s Lane, Wardour Street, Baker Street and Upper Street.
  • Lupita, 13-15 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6ND. Nearest tube: Charing Cross or Embankment. First UK branch of long-standing Mexico City restaurant. Second branch in Spitalfields.
  • Cantina Laredo, 10 Upper St Martin’s Lane, St Martin’s Courtyard, London, WC2H 9FB. Nearest tube: Covent Garden. Modern Mexican cuisine in a sophisticated atmosphere.
  • Wahaca, 66 Chandos Place, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4HG. Nearest tube Charing Cross or Covent Garden. The original branch is very popular so get there early or be prepared to wait! Other branches in Stratford, White City, Soho, Bluewater, Canary Wharf, Charlotte Street and Southbank.
  • Chilango. 142 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2BP. Nearest tube: Blackfriars or City Thameslink (overland). Small chain serving ‘fresh, fabulously tasty Mexican cuisine’ in the City of London, renowed for their burritos. Other branches in Upper Street, Chancery Lane, London Wall and Brushfield.
  • Cafe Sol, 56 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UL. Nearest tube Clapham Common or Clapham North. After dinner, you can drink and dance until the early hours on Friday and Saturdays nights.

To read more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

A bit of Latino action in London: The Old Compton Street entrance to Bodega Negra