11 October 2017

A Taco Feast at El Pastór, London Bridge

You wait an age for a great taco joint to arrive in SE1 and then two come along at once. After my recent visit to Santo Remedio on Tooley Street, on Saturday I finally got to try out El Pastór, a taquería located in a railway arch on Borough Market's Stoney Street.

El Pastór is often busy but they have a very amenable queuing system, whereby you can leave your name and they will text you once you are second in line. There are, of course, a plethora of pubs and bars in and around Borough Market for counting down the minutes until taco time over a pint. When my brother, his wife and our friend arrived just after 12:30 on Saturday lunchtime, however, there was no line and we were ushered straight in to a table at the back of the slender restaurant.

The décor is industrial-chic: exposed-brick walls, metal shelving and pendant lighting, accented with turquoise tables and even some foliage. The tables run along the length of the restaurant and you can also perch at the mezcal bar near the entrance. Our table offered a view of the kitchen and the spit-grilled meat that goes into the tacos al al pastór, which give the restaurant its name.

While we perused the menu, we ordered some cocktails. My frozen margarita (£7.50) was very good; alas, I wasn't quite feeling up to the Negroni al Pastor (£8), which sounded awesome. There are also beers, wines and an extensive and impressive mezcal list.

And so to the food... We ordered a couple of portions of guacamole (£6.50) between the four of us, one with a side of totopos (tortilla chips) and one with chicharrón (light, crispy fried pork belly). I prefer my guac a bit chunkier but it tasted great and I enjoyed both accoutrements.

The tacos are served two to a portion and advised by my brother that one taco twosome might not be enough, we all ordered two pairs. First out of the gate was the tacos al pastór (£6.50), which three of us went for. The juicy marinated pork shoulder combined perfectly with the sharp sweetness of the caramelised pineapple, and it was nice to have a bit of bonus guac on the tacos.

All four of us also ordered the deconstructed carnitas tacos (£7 per person for a minimum of two people to share). Dishes of confit pork, vinegar-pickled pork rind, crumbled chicharrón, salsa, coriander and onion were placed on the table, along with a warming dish of soft corn tortillas. We then got to build our own tacos. Perhaps we were being conservative with our taco loading, but we ended up running out of tortillas before we finished with the fillings, and the wait staff brought us some more. We probably each had three or four tacos. These tasted great and it was fun to construct them ourselves, but I still think the tacos al pastór were my favourites.

With a couple of sides (including some delicious grilled corn-on-the-cob (£4.50) and frijoles charros (£5.50)), and a couple of drinks per person, the bill came to £38 each, including service. This isn't cheap for tacos, but the food was really good and there was more than enough to fill four hungry diners. I certainly didn't have room for the 'Bounty Bar' on the dessert menu, unfortunately. One for next time...

El Pastór. 6–7a Stoney Street, London, SE1 9AA (Tube: London Bridge). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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