I feel like I may be turning into the type of foodie that I hate.
I’ve spent hours binging the Taco Show on Vice. I’ve sat, mouth gawped and drooling watching Taco Chronicles and marveled wide-eyed and misty in admiration for Rosalia Chay on Chef’s Table. So, with all this *extensive* knowledge on Mexican food, what have I done? I’ve ponced around on my YouTube channel making soft-shell cornflour tacos and given the impression that I am some kind of Mexican food expert by hosting a live demonstration cooking tostadas. I am *this* close to being the living, breathing epitome of a social media hipster foodie and I guess all that’s left to complete the transition would be to open a small Mexican restaurant in the middle of an up and coming area?
The thing is, I don’t think anything I ever do will be as good as La Chingada. Almost like a physical metaphor for its reputation as London’s best-known secret, La Chingada is so humbly situated in Surrey Quays that if they didn’t have the, almost comically nonchalant, comic sans font sign above the door I would have walked past, mistaking it for a kebab shop.
Inside, the decor is garishly colourful and I was lucky to have got there early enough to secure one of the florescent coloured stools which matches the walls, pictures and menus. La Chingada is not about thrills, at least not in terms of ambience but no one here is here under any pretence that we’ve come for anything other than tacos.
And by golly, Jesus H Christ, does La Chingada do tacos well. I started off with the taco el pastor, which is pork cooked kebab like on a skewer, shaved and placed into a taco. For me, this was the taco I was looking forward to the most but was slightly disappointed as I found the pork to be ever so slightly dry. This, however, was quickly rectified by a well balanced spicy salsa rojo which added the necessary heat and lubrication needed.
Next up was the carnitas taco. Slow cooked, confit pork including all the lovely fatty bits that I’ve grown up loving but I know can be somewhat of an acquired taste to some. However, the combination of the slightly heavy pork, with chopped onion and coriander to lighten and a silky smooth salsa verde was, for me, the star of the evening. So good I promptly ordered four more to gorge when I got in.
The biggest surprise of the evening for me was the el pastor quesadilla. Clearly not the most aesthetically pleasing item on the menu. However, the toasted tortilla housed inside cheesy, gooey el pastor pork. With a super spicy salsa to dip it into, I could have easily forced myself to have more but with these alongside two very enjoyable steak tacos.. well… let’s just say there was no room at the inn.
As I rode the train back up to North London, I surveyed the train map and noticed that Surrey Quays was one stop away from a location of an ex-love interest. I had ended that fling as I felt the journey from Bounds Green to South London, whilst in the same city, felt more akin to a long-distance relationship than an easy casual hook up. Contentedly sat with my Mexican beer in one hand and my world-class tacos housed in a plastic bag in the other, I spent the rest of the journey thinking that, possibly, maybe South London isn’t so far after all.
La Chingada, Surrey Quays
Food – 4 out of 5
Ambience – 2.5 out of 5
Value for Money – 4 out of 5
What I had:
Tacos El Pastor (2) – £4.50
Carnitas Tacos (2) – £4.50
Steak Tacos (2) – £4.50
Pastor Quesadilla – £4
Modelo Beer – £4.50
Total – £22