Sunshine in San Diego

I awake to the warm glow of the morning sun striped across my face. As my consciousness steadily brightens from a sedate state, a wave of adrenaline rushes through my veins bursting in my core, rendering me coherent. A shock to the senses can only be aroused by the allure of one thing, the sweet promise of Mexican food.

With a leap from bed, followed by some incoherent mumbling of protests from unimpressed companions, we eventually head for Highway 101 and race down the coast. fullsizeoutput_8588fullsizeoutput_858dWe pulled up a stool at Bull Taco, a casual beach bar serving “inauthentic” (average) tacos with an outstanding view of the San Diego surf. fullsizeoutput_858cThe perfect accoutrement to the salty sea breeze are fluffy, crispy nuggets of fried tater tots, dipped in Sriracha ketchup. fullsizeoutput_858eHaving had our fill of salt and surf, we headed farther south to La Jolla and walked along the shore. fullsizeoutput_8592We spotted a seaside wedding, with a seriously stunning backdrop. fullsizeoutput_8593fullsizeoutput_8595And found some of my favourite sea creatures, sunbathing in the cove. fullsizeoutput_8597After establishing I could not sneak a seal into my sweater, we decided we were in need of something sweet to cleanse our salted palates. We wandered over to Bobboi’s Natural Gelato for just the treat.  fullsizeoutput_8598They offer really interested flavours made with natural and organic ingredients, making the selection process all the more difficult. I went for Mediterraneo, a delicious blend of almond, hazelnut and pistachio, and Chocolate Milk, having already tasted five other potentials. fullsizeoutput_859aThere’s nothing like a day of sunshine in San Diego to leave you feeling like: fullsizeoutput_859dLet me know your favourite places to eat, treat or explore.

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La Bodega Negra

I had some time to kill before a meeting in Soho yesterday, and as usual, was craving Mexican food.
Good Mexican is truly hard to find in London, and unless I scavenge the ingredients to whip up a dish myself, I tend to give it a miss altogether.
Last year, New York’s La Esquina opened a London location under the name of La Bodega Negra. Bloggers and critics buzzed about the restaurant, calling it London’s answer to Mexican food.
Yet, I wasn’t ready to be let down by some sloppy, average dish lacking the true Mexican flavours.
Until yesterday.
I was really craving the tangy, spicy chili packed salsas and smokey, tender meats wrapped in perfect taco packages.
I had forgotten the much talked about restaurant downstairs requires reservations and doesn’t open until 6pm. The incredibly rude manager reminded us by snapping about the reservation policy and fine dining ambience as if we had asked something outrageous.
Ignoring her attitude, we settled for lunch in the Café.

La Bodega Negra

Spanish music posters line the wall and the room has a retro diner feel to it with checkered floors, wooden chairs and exposed lights.
The vibe was great due to a great Hip-Hop mix playing.
Jay-z & Kanye, Kase O, and Common ft. John Legend were just some of the endless chilled tracks being played.

On the menu, there’s a great selection of typical tacos, quesadillas and ceviches. I ordered Pork Belly Carnitas with Salsa Verde Tacos and Camaron (shrimp) Tacos with Chipotle Cream and Pickled Onion with a side of Green Rice and Cowboy Beans.

La Bodega NegraWhilst we waited, we were given an assortment of salsas to top our tacos. Salsa Verde, Salsa Roja and Salsa del Comal each gave different flavours and all packed a punch. On each table are two innocent looking bottles holding salsa created from the habanero pepper. These bad boys are pretty high up on the Scoville scale, but still tolerable with good flavour.
After tasting all three of the salsas, I tried the green habanero hot sauce. Unripe habaneros are green and this sauce packed a serious kick.
But the other, ripe habenero XXXTRA hot sauce packed a mean punch.
I dare you to take a teaspoon of this and send me a photo of your facial expression.
Or better yet, offer a taste to your dining companion.

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La Bodega Negra

Our tacos arrived piled high with vibrant toppings.
The Camaron tacos were divine.
Shrimp cooked to perfection with tender meat and a nice snap coated in a chipotle cream for a smokey hint of spice. They were topped with smooth guacamole and acidic pickled onion which really brought all the flavours together.
Add a little lime and sprinkle of sea salt, the perfect combination.

La Bodega Negra

Next to try were the Pork Belly Carnitas with salsa verde.
The pork belly was incredibly tender and had a nice crunch from a sprinkle of crackling. The tacos were piled high with salsa verde and were made even better with the combination of salsas on the table.
To accompany the tacos, we had a side of green rice and cowboy beans.
The green rice is flavoured with cilantro (coriander) and lime and goes well with any Mexican dish.
Cowboy beans are an American creation which uses smokey BBQ sauce to bring out the flavour of the refried beans. These also had bits of bacon as an extra naughty addition.

La Bodega Negra

Our lovely waiter Nelvino was incredibly helpful and very knowledgeable about the menu, even though he hasn’t dared try the habanero salsa.
I absolutely love their shirts and think that they should sell them in the restaurant, don’t you? 

La Bodega NegraIf you’re in Soho looking for a way to spice up your day and are in need of a great lunch spot, I’ve found the place.
If you’re looking for good Mexican food with a sexy atmosphere for dinner and drinks, make sure you call ahead for reservations here.
This, by the way, is located in the bottom of a sex shop.
It is Soho after all.