We were gutted when Del 74 shut up shop (ok, so they only moved to Dalston, but Hackney was bereft) and have been on the lookout for a fabulous Mexican replacement to get our taco and tequila fix ever since.
Thankfully newbies Caldera can be found on Mare Street and not only are they serving up all the classics but as their namesake suggests (‘cauldron’ in Spanish) it’s quite the melting pot with a few surprises too!
We’d walked past Caldera a couple of times and if we’re honest, thought the glass-fronted spot looked like it was part of a chain. However, inside things are much more impressive. Shelves are lined with cans of tomatillos (for those in the know, these bad boys are super hard to track down in London but are an essential part of Mexican cuisine) which was definitely a good sign and cosy booths were mega inviting.
We were delighted to discover happy hour runs from 6pm – 8pm each evening (we only realised it existed when our waiter bought over TWO passionfruit and chilli margaritas – but what a welcome surprise it was).
Although we sat next to a cute couple on a first date, this is definitely a great option for big groups as the portions are HUGE. We’d suggest rounding up the gang and that way you’ll be able to try more dishes from the menu (there’s a lot you’ll want to try!). Kick things off with the supreme nachos which are loaded with guacamole, charred salsa and pico de gallo with either beef chilli or veggies. Our favourite dish from the whole night, however, was the prawn tacos. Served in portions of 3 on soft corn tortillas, you WILL fight over the last one.
For your mains you could go for any of the classics – enchilada, quesadilla, burrito, etc – of you could step outside your Mexican comfort zone and try one of the more modern dishes. A fusion of Mexican and Japanese, the octopus was so beautifully presented, marinated in black chichilo-goma (black sesame) ashes. It’s finished with splodges of hibiscus kosho and truffle aioli and is a total beaut of a dish. And whilst joints of poussin al pastor were tasty (they come alongside a spicy habanero & jackfruit sauce), you’ll want a side to go with. The Mexican corn pinto beans would get our vote.
If you can somehow find room for dessert it’s all about the churros with dulce de leche…. and maybe another margarita?
Despite the giant portions, prices are super affordable. Those nachos – a tenner. You could legit sit at the bar and just have those and a few cocktails and you would not go home hungry. However, you’d miss out on tons of great stuff so don’t do that. And on top of all that, there are plenty of deals to be had. On Taco Tuesday’s they’ll only set you back 3 quid all day.