You might think I participated in a friendly international football match over the weekend, but that’s certainly not the case. Apart from hitting Hampstead Heath for a brisk walk, I’ve been pretty stationary. On Friday, however, I was forced into dancing some salsa (stiff Scandi hips most certainly lie for the record) and we also had some delicious Mexican food at Santo.
It seems Notting Hill is a hot spot for Mexican restaurants. One can find Taqueria, Crazie Homies and Santo here and I’m sure there are plenty of others that I’ve yet to discover. Santo is situated far down on Portobello Road, so technically this is more Ladbroke Grove territory.
I met up with an Ecuadorian friend (Mr. Ecuador) who’d chosen this place because 1) they serve very good food 2) they usually have Friday dance nights. Latin people love to dance, which is quite stressful for me as I didn’t grow up learning salsa or merengue. I grew up to the tunes of Carola, which is quite different from Shakira.
I could however, show my Margarita-drinking talents. The Margarita they make at Santo isn’t as good as the mighty one over at Crazie Homies, but I still recommend it. I also recommend the food, which is fresh and flavoursome.
We started with crunchy totopos with guacamole and continued with a symphony of tacos, burritos and nachos. The pollo verde quesadilla was one of those dishes you want to linger on, tasting and dissecting every ingredient. The coriander flavour really came through and felt fresh and light, although it was with married with melted cheese. I also enjoyed the pork carnitas, which were slow cooked in orange juice and herbs and served with tiny flour tortillas. The chicken burrito was massive and I was happy this wasn’t my choice, it would’ve killed the night.
Mr. Peru and Mr. Ecuador 2 were all in great spirits and seemed to enjoy the restaurant too. With my Scandinavian palate it’s hard to judge whether Santo is “good enough”, and by that I suppose I mean authentic, but if Señor Latinos approved, I’d say it’s a good verdict.
A big perk with Santo is that when you’ve finished eating you can move away from the table and head for the bar. The DJ knows his Latin American music and if it’s a packed night, I can imagine the crowds going wild when the reggaeton tunes blast from the speakers. But I doubt he would play Carola…