If, like me, the promise of ‘bottomless soda refills’, frozen margaritas on tap and burritos the size of your face has you reaching for your Oyster card and checking the elastic of your waistband, DF Mexico might be the place for you.
Launched by the team behind Wahaca, this is nothing like Wahaca. Instead of trying to synthesise street food in a restaurant, which can inevitably miss the mark, this place is a very happy marriage of American diner fare and traditional Mexican food.
Named after Districto Federal, or Mexico City as it’s known to outsiders, the idea was born on a road trip that Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby, founders of the Wahaca empire, took around Mexico and the US. And it really works.
There are tortas – gorgeous great burger-style stacks filled with pork pibil, chile beef or ancho mushrooms and jammed with cucumber pickle, pumpkin seed mayonnaise and avocado.
There’s soft-whip ice cream in flavours like dulce de leche with peanut butter brittle smashed on top that may or not make you salivate even as you type the words 24 hours later. There’s even passionfruit flavour with popping candy on top.
Highlights include the fish tacos – a nightmare to negotiate from plate to face, but a dream to eat: fat ingots of crumbed cod (sustainably sourced) with a zippy red slaw and sweet chipotle mayonnaise zigzagged on top. If I’m not still wearing that dish somewhere on my person I’d be surprised.
Another surprise might be that one of the best things we ate was the ‘cup of corn’ – labelled with a modesty that belies its utter perfection: a little pot of delicately-seasoned chowder with translucent little cubes of sweetcorn and a scoop of something that tastes like quesa fresco, but is actually a mixture of Lancashire cheese and mayonnaise.
I loved the huge glass coolers of icy margarita and hibiscus-flavoured agua fresca swirling mesmerisingly above the tables. I loved the textures and flavours of food that tasted like it had been left to luxuriate on a stove for hours. I loved the super-sized, money’s-worth feeling of the diner experience.
Tucked into the Old Truman Brewery, there’s a nod to its surroundings too, with the bar stocking local brew and ales from Brixton and Gipsy Hill, as well as Mexican brands like Pacifico.
Another place looking to buck the dizzying merry-go-round of week-only pop-ups, DF Mexico has an 18-month residency here. It’s fun, the people are lovely and the food is great, but not pricey. Definitely worth a visit.
DF Mexico, Old Truman Brewery, Hanbury Street, E1 6QR