Lupita actually started 50 years ago and became a leading taqueria in Mexico City before deciding to open up in London in 2010. They now have three sites across London – we visited Lupita East which is an easy walk from Aldgate and Liverpool Street. Here’s my review of their dinner offering.
The inside of Lupita East is deliberately quite bare with plastic chairs and lots of Mexican knick-knacks decorating the walls and sides. It was worryingly empty for 7pm on a Saturday when we arrived but the service was attentive and welcoming.
For drinks we ordered a sharing jug of their “sangria” which you could choose to be “red, white or bubbles”. Intrigued, and safe in my knowledge that pretty much whatever they served with fizz in would be fine with me and Mum, we chose the “bubbles sangria” option which served 5 people (supposedly). When it came and we poured it, it disappointingly actually only served 2 and a half glasses but we were told that was because we didn’t have enough ice in our glasses to make it stretch to 5 glasses! To their credit though, they then brought us over another jug to make up for it, which was a nice touch. The “bubbles sangria” was less sangria and more a jug of mimosa, with (I think) some added vodka – but I love mimosas so no real complaints here!
The menu is split up into smaller plates, tacos, sides, burritos, tortas and their classic plates. We decided to share a portion of 3 chicken taquitos (rolled up and fried chicken breast tortillas) which they served with salsa verde, creme fraiche, cheese and salad (£5.95). They were delicious, every bit as good as the ones I had in Mexico and with a generous amount of chicken breast inside. The portion would have been quite filling as a starter for one person, so I’m glad we shared the portion of 3 and not 6!
The street tacos come in pairs, so we decided to share three plates of them. The Chicken Tinga ones were a really nice flavour with the tomato and chipotle but for my (lack of) spice tolerance, really spicy – so be warned!! My eyes were definitely watering by the end of them but they were so tasty that the heat was definitely worth it. The Carnitas pulled pork ones I had next provided some welcome relief from the fire going on in my mouth by this point and were equally tasty – not dry at all like some pulled pork tacos I’ve had.
Finally, the Campechano grilled steak ones with chorizo and pork chicharron were probably my favourites – I’m glad that we didn’t add the hot salsa option though having seen how spicy their equally two chilli rated Chicken Tinga was! We did add the cheese to all of the tacos though where optional, because y’know, melted cheese makes (almost) everything better…
I could happily eat all of the food we’ve had at this point again. Dessert, unfortunately, was considerably less successful. Mum ordered the churros with chocolate sauce (you can choose caramel sauce instead; £4.95) and I went for the intriguing “Chocoflan” which is bizarrely described as “Flan Impossible” and “a magical thing that occurs in the oven” on their menu (£4.95). What it should have been is Cajeta, chocolate cake and a layer of flan on top – what it actually was, is quite gross.
I thought that Cajeta was Mexico’s answer to Dulche de Leche, rich and thick, but this was really watery. The chocolate cake bit was nice but in my opinion, did not work with the slightly scrambled-egg-ish textured flan on top of it. The churros were similarly disappointing. The churros themselves were nice but the chocolate dipping sauce had a really odd chemically taste to it, I’m not sure if it had come from a packet or whether they’d used the caramel sauce as a base and added chocolate to it, but either way it left a nasty after-taste.
The atmosphere in Lupita East also left us wanting. Although it did pick up a bit, the entire downstairs large bar/restaurant area was closed which struck me as odd on a Saturday evening when its neighbouring restaurants and bars had people spilling out of the doors onto the street. Upstairs where we were, the plastic chairs, harsh lighting and many empty tables in a small space definitely made it feel like more of a daytime cafe than a restaurant and it didn’t feel like a dinner destination. The service, though friendly, was quite hurried and rushed to start with until they realised that we wanted to take our time a bit more. I think we’d eaten both our starters and mains within 50 minutes of arriving.
The meal for two came to £73 including service which I didn’t think was amazing value, but that was more about the whole experience than the food itself. It would have been better had it have felt like more of a “proper” dinner and the desserts hadn’t been so bad.
I’d consider returning to Lupita for a quick pit stop or a lunch if I walked past one of their other branches to have their tacos and small plates as I felt they were authentic but I definitely won’t be returning for dinner – especially not to Lupita East with DF/Mexico (click to read my review) just a 5 min walk away which in my opinion was much better food, atmosphere and value.
Nearest station: Aldgate East or Liverpool Street, both are easily walkable.