Tacos are having a moment. It’s easy to understand the attraction, tasty morsels wrapped in a little corn pancake – what’s not to like?
Bodega is a tiny taqueria on Elm Row, just at the top of Leith Walk. We walked inside and I wondered whether we’d be seated upstairs or down. Turns out there is no downstairs, the 15 covers I counted was it. Chris, our host, explained that if they create one long table, they can seat 22. Still tiny, but I’m a believer that many great things come in small packages.
The galley shaped restaurant serves a short menu of predominantly tacos with a few starters and desserts.
We kicked the party off with…Mexican soda. Bodega is BYOB (£2.50 corkage) but after a heavy week we decided to go teetotal for the evening. I ordered the cola and Alex had the pineapple, they were just as good as the Indian Thums Up and Limca that we order at Tuk Tuk.
The House Guacamole with Corn Tortilla Chips was good, but the Korean Fried Chicken Wings stole the show from the starters. Beneath the tangy sauce the wings were still crispy, obviously absolutely fresh from the fryer. That’s the good thing about a restaurant with so few covers, you can cook everything completely fresh to order. This showed on all the fried elements we ordered, everything was at its optimum.
The mains are all tacos which range from £6.50 through to £8.50 for the specials, each portion is two street-sized tacos. This compares to £6.50 for two at El Cartel, and £4.50 for three at Wahaca which are a bit smaller and not quite the same quality (although still very tasty). Bodega recommend four per person so that works out at around £15 for your main course.
The Tiger Prawn Tempura Taco were served with two large crispy prawns, an asian slaw and sesame and chilli dressing. The tacos themselves are a bit lighter and crispier than the ones in El Cartel, which I think I prefer.
The Buffalo Chicken Taco felt more fusion than Mexican, but I have to say, it was a tasty fusion.
The Jamaican Jerk Pork Taco offered the only misstep of the evening. The pork in our opinion needed more spice and less salt, this is an area where El Cartel excel. Their slow cooked meat is excellent.
We ordered the only side on the menu, Scallion Fries with South Carolina Mustard Sauce. No idea what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. A twist on the humble onion ring, yes please, don’t mind if I do!
I can’t resist Churros Con Chocolate when I see them on the menu. These were, once again, fresh from the fryer and not at all greasy. Good churros.
Finally, something completely unexpected. A fine dining standard dessert was not what I was expecting to appear next, but the Avocado Panna Cotta with Smoked Honeycomb and Chocolate and Ginger Ice Cream had intrigued me. It’s not a dessert you can buy in, so I was keen to try it. I’m so glad I did. The flavour combination was inspired, and the smoked honeycomb….well I almost asked for a bag of it to take away!
Location: 62 Elm Row
Price: £5-£6 for starters, £6.50 – £8.50 for tacos
Good for: Tasty tacos and amazing chicken wings!