The Mexican grub at Glasgow's new Mezcal is equal parts trick and treat, says Gaby Soutar

 

I once set my hair on fire while guising.

 

For some reason, the 10-year-old me thought it’d add extra drama to my costume if I was carrying a candle (loose, not even enclosed in a neepy lantern), while dressed in my customary bin bag/talcum powder/tomato sauce ensemble.

 

Luckily, only my fringe frazzled, and I left the stink of burning keratin in someone’s stairwell.

 

It’s only five days until Halloween, and I am predicting streets full of the usual sexy cats and witches, but also Jokers, Midsommar revellers and Pennywises, Boris and Fortnite characters.

 

Meh. I think I’d rather be in Mexico on Dia de los Muertos, next Saturday, with its marigolds, sugar skulls and other offerings to the dearly departed.

 

This place, owned by the Rotunda Group, whose portfolio also includes Halloumi (Greek), Rioja (Spanish), La Rotunda (Italian) and Pickled Ginger (Japanese), has a wall covered in the prerequisite paraphernalia for that celebration.

 

Pre-opening, the windows were wrapped in teaser images of a Victorian couple in lucha libre masks, and now you’ll find a small-ish space full of neon signs, bright tiles and manically loud music.

 

The menu, designed by chef and food consultant Adriana Cavita, is reminiscent of Edinburgh’s branches of El Cartel, with a short-ish list that focuses on tacos.

 

There is lots of booze too, and the eponymous stuff. I had a shot of this in what is Mexico’s most popular cocktail, The Paloma (£8).

 

Served in a large tumbler, I would have liked a salted rim, which had been hinted at in the ingredients list, but I enjoyed the peach-coloured and smoky mixture of grapefruit soda, lime and mezcal.

 

The mezcal mule (£8) was pleasant too, with ginger beer and a little bit of lime in the mix.

 

It’s slightly confusing to know how much food to order. One waitress advised a single taco option each, but that would make this review very short. We ignored her, and went for a bunch of stuff, which annoyingly all arrived at the same time, so we had to move the plates around the tiny table like a game of Candy Crush while relegating the hot sauces and condiments to the floor.

 

The guacamole with chips (£4) wasn’t bad – fluffy avocado moosh, with a bit of salsa and a side of corn chips that seemed a bit stale and bothersome on the molars. Not to go all Edinburgh v Glasgow, but this wasn’t a patch on El Cartel’s guacamole national.

 

The tacos come in pairs, each with a pot of sour cream and a wedge of lime on the side. We shared the cochinita pibil – pork leg (£5.90), with soft hammocks filled with rich pulped meat, a spicy hot mattress of refried beans, pineapple chunks and coriander. Good, though I think they could do with taco stands, since these soon collapsed like flooded ceilings.

 

The dorados – fried chicken taco (£7) consisted of poultry chunks in a very fine crumb, iceberg lettuce, guacamole, pico de gallo salsa and a bit of coriander. It was the vanilla option, I suppose.

 

We also tried their most expensive dish – the tostadas de atun (£13) – raw cubes of fish in a hot macha salsa on toasted tortillas, along with more coriander, lime, guacamole and watercress. The jury is out with this one. It was enjoyable, but only to a point, since it was fizzingly salty.

 

Of three sides, our favourite was the Oaxacan-style beans (£2.90), which, apparently, had been cooked with avocado leaves and the herb epazote. We also had a little dish of pico mezcal (£3.50), with pineapple, nail clipping-sized bits of red onion, coriander, habanero chilli and lime.

 

They don’t do pudding here. Not even one little churro. I thought about a frozen margarita, but then realised Tantrum Doughnuts on Gordon Street might still be open, and we could get acquainted with the churro’s big fat US cousin. We hot footed it along, but they’d efficiently closed at the stroke of 7pm.

 

I shall have to go door to door, begging for sweets while wearing my bin bag.

 

Anyway, Glasgow did need a new Mexican place, and Mezcal isn’t bad, but it’s not going to set anyone’s hair alight. n

 

 

 

104 Hope Street, Glasgow (www.mezcalglasgow.co.uk)

Mezcal, Glasgow, restaurant review
Food70%
Ambience70%
70%Overall Score
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About The Author

Gaby Soutar

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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