In the heart of Warren Street lies a colourful new marketplace in town, that implores you to come in and delve into its magical oasis of colour and texture. From paying homage to the stylish art icon Frida Kahlo the ‘unapologetic symbol’ of Mexican culture, to bottled cactuses and re fried pinto beans with chipotle, this city haunt cunningly merges the gap between Mexican culture, fashion, food and drink. Located next door to the infamous and undeniably popular Mestizo restaurant, the smell of enchiladas and tacos waft delightfully under the nose, as you dance around the retro Mexican sweets in juxtaposition to the pastel blue and pink pineapples, caressing Frida’s forehead. Toy animals are lined up on colourful steps, next to bottles of spicy habnero sauce, a contrast between playfulness and spice. And what better way to compliment the merger between culture and whimsical heritage than with the marketplaces choice of name ‘Mestizo’ translating as the phrase ‘fusion’, a term that was utilized principally to designate the descendants of indigenous Mexicans with Spaniards? Here at Mestizo, you will find a true taste of Mexico in the big city with authentic Mexican ingredients like Masa flour, salsa’s like verde,guajillo, and tequillas, which you can enjoy all night long in Mestizo’s restaurant, especially the frozen strawberry versions that taste like an aphrodisiac on the tip of your tongue. But it’s not just the delicious salsa’s or authentic fusion dishes that you should try in the marketplace; like any good ‘market’ you couldn’t have an authentic taste of Mexico without ‘typical Mexican fashion.
Enter Fridomania, whose global impact on fashion, style and culture, is no stranger to Mestizo’s marketplace. Perhaps it might be adequate to suggest that Frida Kahlo’s influence shines through the store, infiltrating everything from the portraits on the walls, to the traditional Mexican shopping bags, lovingly emblazoned with her self image. And while accessories like shopping bags and home decor are at the forefront of the Mestizo ‘shopping experience’ it is also the clothing like tehuana dresses and floppy straw hats that paints a picture of Mexican style influences the most. In fact don’t just take it from me; while the locals and Mexican aficionados are all for celebrating the taste of a true authentic Mexican experience, even celebrities like Salma Hayek has been seen in the marketplace wanting a slice of the action. In fact Salma Hayek chose to wear a traditional ‘tehuana’ dress from Mestizo’s Mexican Market, for her V&A Museum appearance on the 13th June, at the preview of the exhibition ‘Frida Kahlo : Making Her Self Up’. Now hows that for celebrity endorsement?
Which is why when press night rolled around , who else but the self-confessed foodaholic would be seen stuffing her face and drinking copious cocktails than me? With six stalls dedicated to demonstrating the best of what Mestizo had to offer, there was everything from chilli, tequilla and Mezcal tasting – which non vegetarians could taste alongside with worms (yup I am glad I am a vegetarian)- to ‘day of the dead’ mask crafts, traditional Mexican dancers and of course frozen margaritas full of pure sugary deliciousness that was begging to be slipped down our scratchy throats. Like any Mexican experience, it seemed only fitting that Mestizo would turn their ‘press night’ into one giant fiesta and we certainly weren’t complaining, in fact we did not want to leave. Which is why we were gratified to find out how welcoming and lovely the staff were both in the Mestizo Marketplace, who were eager to show their wares and patriotism to Mexico, and in inside the restaurant, taking into account allergies and dietary requirements with great care and devotion.
And speaking of allergies and dietary requirements, on a separate note, the restaurant next to the marketplace also has separate menu’s catered to those who are vegan, nut free, lactose intolerant and allergic to wheat and gluten, meaning that no matter what your allergies are, there will be plenty of food and drink to tickle your tastebuds. Take the vegan menu for example, while Mexican cuisine is renowned for its ‘cheese loving ways’ the vegan menu offers such culinary delights like Tamales (steamed corn husks filled with corn maize and black beans) and flautas (rolled corn tortillas filled with deep fried potato and topped with shredded lettuce and a green tomatillo salsa) that would make even a meat eater ravenous with hunger. My personal favourite? A humble Mexican delight known as Panucho featuring a crispy corn tortilla topped with refried beans, sliced and grilled poblano pepper and sweetcorn, although I am yet to try Mestizo’s version, but if the tamales and empnadas from press night are anything to go by, then you are in for a right royal treat.
So if you are looking for a place to shop for authentic Mexican ingredients (which you can also shop for on their website) as well as in the marketplace, Frida Kahlo inspired giftware, as well as retro Mexican sweets, crisps and other snacks then look no further than Mestizo’s Mexican Marketplace that is guaranteed to put your cats through college, sate your hunger and thirst and indulge your love for vintage antiques all in one loveable, cheeky shop. So be there or be square.
Have You Ever Been To A Mexican Marketplace Before?