Trade GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS for TACOS TACOS TACOS at La Bodega Negra.
Peep show, anyone? This sheep in wolf’s clothing, on the south-east corner of Soho, has been attracting and confusing customers since 2011; mostly wary diners unsure if they’ve found the right place, and no doubt a few genuine pervs looking for a sly thrill, only to end up sitting down for dinner.
The screaming neon signage out front promises adult video, peep shows and girls, girls, girls…
Stepping through the front door, frankly, offers little in the way of reassurance as the front desk looks rather untoward too…
Check in with the hostess, though, and you’ll be invited to follow the throbbing pink arrow…
…until you arrive, reassuringly, at La Bodega Negra’s brilliant basement restaurant.
This sleazy ground-floor thematics give way to low-lit Mexican vibes in the dining room proper. There’s barely a nipple in sight, alas, just lots of flickering candles and distressed surfaces.
On the menu, you’ll find tacos, tostadas and ceviche and starters of grilled octopus, quesadillas and tuna anticuchos…
There are also larger plates of aged steak, crispy pork belly, slow roasted lamb barbacoa and duck carnitas, making it possible to indulge in quite the feast.
A long cocktail list offers margaritas, agave concoctions and other recipes inspired by Latin America. Behind the bar there are no fewer than 40 tequilas and 15 mezcals, including the luxurious Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva at £30 a measure – not one to knock back with a lick of salt and mouthful of lemon then.
The venue is somewhat known for its commitment to throughput (you have two hours to eat and depart) but the Bodega’s cooking is typically crowd-pleasing if not precisely the main draw. (If you just want to try the food sans theatrics, it’s probably easier to visit the venue’s all-day café upstairs!) But it’s a one-of-a-kind offering – and a show most assuredly worth peeping.
Location: 16 Moor St, Soho, W1D 5NH. Nearest stations are Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square. See it on Google Maps.
Opening hours: seven days a week; Mon-Sat, midday – 1am; Sun, midday – 11.30pm.
Price: expect to get through £45 on dinner; cocktails are from £9.
More information: on their website.