Last Night A Taco Saved My Life | Breddos Tacos London EC1
OK, so that heading is a little dramatic but Breddos Tacos rescued what could have been a very disappointing evening. I had even got to work early so that I could escape my day job in Canary Wharf before the official clocking off time to get over to Old Street for an event at 7pm.
The trouble was there had been a little confusion with the day and date (right day, wrong date) which ended up with Saff and I stood in Old Street in a disappointed sulk. Then Saff had a brain wave, she remembered that Breddos Tacos was just round the corner. Now the venue is tiny, no more that 30 seats (probably even less, but the bustling atmosphere confused my counting) and they don’t take reservations. But fret not, rather than make you wait outside, they take your mobile number and call you 10 minutes before your table is ready.
We love a virtual queue, (a similar system works perfectly well at Padella) it’s so much more civilised that standing around for an hour on a cold drizzly Tuesday night. Plus we’d just passed Clerkenwell Grind so we popped in for a couple of coffee based cocktails (and a chat about their neon with the staff) whilst we waited to be summoned by Breddos Tacos.
In less than an hour we received our call and minutes later we were perched at the window table trying to decide what to order. It’s always a little tricky knowing what and how much to get, especially when a menu doesn’t follow the usual starter/main/dessert format. We didn’t want to choose too much and waste food/money, yet we didn’t want to under order and leave hungry.
If in doubt – ask. Our fantastic waiter tried to gauge just how hungry we were on a scale from peckish to hangry. The beauty of eating at Breddos Tacos (as at other small plate restaurants) if you are still hungry, simply order a few more. Between us we ordered four tacos – from £3.50 each (there was a choice of seven), one tostada – from £6 (a choice of three) and a Queso Fundido (£6) from the ‘snack’ section. We got the amount bang on, more by luck than judgement, we even had room for dessert.
The menu changes regularly, so our selections may not be available when you visit – but at least you know that they use the freshest seasonal ingredients (from producers such as Philip Warren & Son and Wild Harbour in Cornwall. Back in 2011 Breddos Tacos started life as a makeshift taco shack in a car park in Hackney and decor in their first permanent location still has a subtle roadside taqueria feel. Loved the soundtrack to our evening too, Prince‘s Parade album (one of my favourites) followed by some gentle old school hip-hop (played from a selection of vinyl on display at the back of the restaurant.)
The Tacos are served on house nixtamalised 12cm corn tortillas (a process where the corn is soaked and cooked in limewater, washed, and then hulled) whilst the tostadas are served on a 12cm crispy corn tortilla. Apart from the Nixtamalization the description on the menu doesn’t really differentiate between tacos and tostadas. In layman’s terms, the taco is soft so you can fold it over to envelope its topping, while the tostadas have a hard crunchy base with its topping piled high – we found the easiest (and least messy) way to share these were with a knife and fork.
The dishes are cooked to order and arrive when ready. First up was the Masa Fried Chicken taco, perfectly balanced with a heritage tomato pico de gallo and a drizzle of habanero salsa. Thankfully it was only a drizzle, we were given a little pot of this habanero salsa with some corn chips and blimey it’s very hot. It did warn us on the menu (in capital letters), this will teach us to read all the menu and not just skip to the ‘interesting’ bits.
Next up was the Kung Po Pork Belly taco (£3.50) with sichuan pepper and finely chopped bird’s-eye chilli. Again this taco had some heat but not a fierce as the habanero, maybe the spring onion had the desired cooling effect. The Pollo Asado taco (£3.50) arrived at the same time, as opposed to the breaded deep-fried chicken of our first taco this was roasted (and then possibly finished over their wood grill), shredded and mixed with yet more pico de gallo and habanero. Luckily I had a can of ice-cold Pogo to hand (a fruity pale ale brewed by the Wild Beer Co.)
Then our only tostada arrived, we were off to Venice at the end of the week, based partly on our love of Russell Norman‘s award winning Venetian restaurants (read our recs here) and so we were drawn to the Pulpo (£7.50). Yes, we know it’s spelt differently but it’s still octopus and in my opinion there is very little better than octopus cooked over a wood fired grill. Especially when it’s mixed with black vinegar, sichuan pepper, bone marrow and chervil (a delicate herb related to parsley) – delicious!
Our final taco to arrive was our favourite, the Beef Short Rib Birria (£3.50) – a traditional Birria is a spicy stew made with goat but the short rib adds a little more depth and meaty punch. Heat is still there supplied by the morita chili (basically a smoked jalapeño) but is kept to a minimum – well compared to the habanero sauce anyway, whilst finely chopped onions and lemon add texture and acidity.
At this point we saw one of the specials delivered to the next table, The Old Spot Pork Chop (£12), cooked on the wood grill and served with spring onions and salsa verde, it looked and smelt amazing. But we were full, especially as I had ordered the Queso Fundido chorizo verde (£6), which I wrongly assumed was sliced chorizo with a sprinkling of melted cheese. What actually arrived was a heavy iron dish of bubbling molten cheese with crumbled chorizo. So good yet so bad, remember I have high cholesterol…
What we did have room for was desert. There were only two on the list, a Dulce de leche ice cream (£6), drizzled with chocolate fudge sauce and roasted peanuts and a Mango and lemon sorbet (£3.50), even this simple dessert was given a little va-va-boom with a dusting of sichuan pepper.
The last time we had a tostada was actually in Mexico – a sea urchin ceviche tostada to be precise from La Guerrerense – an award-winning seafood stand which dates back to the 1960s. This $2 beauty was even named Best Original Dish at the L.A. Street Food Fest. We can honestly say that the food we ate at Breddos Tacos was just as good and just as authentic as the dishes served up at La Guerrerense plus the seats at were a lot more comfortable than the kerb of a busy Mexican road.
82 Goswell Road, EC1V 7DB
Telephone: 020 3535 8301
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 12-3pm for lunch and 5-10.30pm for dinner and Sunday 11am-5pm
Nearest station: Barbican (6 mins walk) Old Street (11 mins walk)
In addition to the taqueria, there is also the Breddos Taco Truck, based on Newton Street
(just behind The Hoxton in Holborn), Monday-Friday, 12-3pm.