Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant

I should be careful when writing blog posts. One never knows who might read it. I recently wrote an unflattering post about Wahaca, a chain of Mexican restaurants in London, only to find a comment left by the inspiration behind the concept. I did reply to her, rather humbly given that I’d been a bit rude in the post.

In that reply I made a few suggestions about how I thought Wahaca, or any Mexican restaurant, should be. There should be Mexican music, for a start. Some Mexican staff would also be nice. But most of all there should be Mexican food. I pointed out that it would be great to see “enchiladas, tacos al pastor, nopales, chicharon de queso, tlayuda, barbacoa and carnitas on the menu”. 

Actually, how can someone call a Mexican restaurant a Mexican restaurant when none of those key meals is on offer? While the restaurants get a fair bit of praise, I’m not the only one who has noticed the downsides. I went through the menu with Paola – once we’d knocked off the Tex Mex dishes, there wasn’t an awful lot left to comment on. That was a big part in why I referred to the place as a ‘corporate sell-out’.

I also mentioned that my wife visited another Mexican restaurant in London, very near Charing Cross Station. It’s called Lupita. She took me there yesterday. It was everything a Mexican restaurant should be. And everything Wahaca isn’t.  We sat down in the corner underneath a photo of Torre Latinoamericana. We gave our order to a Mexican waiter, in Spanish. A former resident of DF, no less. And we forgave him the fact that he supports Club America. And we watched the chefs cooking in their open plan kitchen in the middle of the restaurant.

We listened to a mix of Mexican music. There was a little mariachi, a little Luis Miguel. We’ll also forgive the brief interlude courtesy of the Gypsy Kings. Then the food arrived. Paola had nopales. I had a generously proportioned chicharron de queso with a mound of guacamole. Both were perfect. We looked at dishes being served to other happy diners, many of whom were clearly regulars. They were the real deal.

Lupitas get’s an unreserved thumbs up from me. It was an excellent restaurant serving real Mexican food in a very Mexican environment. We’ll be back. Thomasina of Wahaca mentioned in her comment that she eats at her restaurants regularly. My suggestion today is that she not eat at one of her restaurants but eats at Lupita’s instead. She may have to wait for a table, because it gets busy in there, but it’s worth it. And it’s proof that there is a market for real, authentic Mexican grub in London.

For just a few minutes in that restaurant, I was taken back to the happy days I lived in Mexico City. The music was right, the smells delicious, the noises were recognisably unrecognisable, the pictures on the walls were perfect. I thought, as I sat staring out the window at the snow falling through the sky, that I was almost home.

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8 Comments

    • In a previous post about Wahaca, when the word ‘authentic’ was raised, I suggested I might ‘cough up a grolly’ and spit it on to the floor. It true DF style…! 🙂

  • We have a Lupita’s Restaurante here in Pátzcuaro, and it’s above average, although catering somewhat to gringo tastes. Like me. Last time I had (I hope that you are ready for this.) the Fish and Chips. http://tinyurl.com/7qafkwu

    I know the chips were really French Fries, and the little heap of veg to the lower left was a warm pineapple salsa. I did discover the little cruet of dark vinegar as I was finishing up. I was content with the homemade tartar sauce.

    So, we so often long for what we can’t have. This came close, at least in appearance.

    Saludos,
    Don Cuevas

    • When I was in Mexico, I didn’t long for that many things. Jaffa cakes and marmite. But especially a good plate of proper fish and chips. Your serving looks closer to that than anything I found in my time there!

  • My husband and I were just discussing various restaurants here in California, and no matter what the cuisine, Italian, Greek, etc., the cooks in the kitchen all seem to be Mexicans. We don’t think they’ve been to the culinary academy, but they sure manage to put out fantastic food no matter what. I had the best ravioli and my husband linguini with clams in an Italian restaurant yesterday, and we could here all the cooks in the kitchen……Mexicans!

    • Italian food is the one international food that Mexicans do right in DF. And Mexicans don’t do culinary academies. They do mama’s cooking. And Mexico is the better for it…

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