Topolabamba

Mexican food is always one of my first choices of cuisines to go for & when I heard a new one was opening, I obviously was looking forward to trying it. I hadn’t heard of the name Topolabamba before so assumed it wasn’t a chain & was even more surprised to find out it was owned by the company who also own Glasgow favourites such as Di Maggios, Pinto & Cafe Andaluz. Before I go on with this post, I will state that we were invited along to the pre-launch night after I posted information about the restaurant opening in an earlier post.

Mexican DecorMexican Decor

On first impressions, I was taken with the decor which contained a lot of wooden wall panels dotted with authentic looking Mexican bric-a-brac. Now I love skulls & was taken with all of the sugar skulls they had dotted around the restaurant. My most favourite part of the decor was, surprisingly, in the toilets which are covered with Mexican skull themed wallpaper. Unfortunately it was custom made for the restaurant so won’t be able to get my hands on some!!

WallpaperWallpaper

Topolabamba is another restaurant centred around sharing food with lots of small plates. The menu is split into 3 sections – bar bites, street food & bigger plates. The drinks are a mix of margaritas & mexican beers along with some imported soft drinks.

Mexican Decor

When seated, we were asked if we wanted any bar bites whilst waiting for others to arrive. Since we had literally just sat down, we suggested that the waitress bring anything. From the menu we had crazy corn & nachos with both guacamole & salsa. I don’t really know what was so “crazy” about the corn since it was 3 bits of corn on the cob with some crumbled cheese over it. Nothing really jumped out. The guacamole was fantastic, with big chunks of fresh avocado & a nice kick to it. The salsas that they have range from mild to quite spicy on the scale, however we could not find much difference between the house & the spiciest salsa which was a bit disappointing.

Crazy CornNachos & Salsa

The street food section contains typical Mexican dishes such as taquitos, tacos & fajitas whereas the bigger plates have more variation with stuffed peppers, coca cola short stack ribs, burritos & baked fish. I was really pleased to see cactus on the menu in a few dishes as I’d only come across it in the Wahaca restaurants in London. As we were at a sampling night, we were encouraged to order a few dishes between us to start then order more once we had finished.

From the street food section, we sampled dishes including crab ceviche tostadas (the crab was fresh but lost in the lemon that had been added), barbacoa beef tacos (nice strong flavour from the meat but accompanied nicely with a blend of spices) & our favourite dish from that section – fish tacos which were in a light batter & accompanied by a smoky & spicy aioli.

Crab Ceviche Fish Tacos

Ever since I’d seen the menu I’d been really intrigued to try the coca cola short stack rib. However, I was quite disappointed by the dish which consisted on one large beef rib with a little sauce on the side. The meat was tender & fell off the bone but the lack of sauce meant there was no edge to it & it was at the end of the day, just a bit of beef. Other dishes we sampled went down a lot better:

  • Stuffed pepper – it contained crumbly cheese, spicy cactus, potatoes & chipolte peppers which gave it a good spice rating but you could taste the individual elements
  • Salt & Pepper Ancho Chilli Squid – this was my favourite dish filled with fresh baby squid (including some tentacles) & accompanied by such a delicious ancho chilli aioli that added so much flavour
  • Chargrilled flat iron steak with peanut mole – The steak was pink in the middle & had been seasoned with some spices. The peanut mole was so full of flavour with the spicy chocolate richness & texture & slightly salty taste of the peanuts
  • Queso Fundido – a melted cheese dish containing chorizo & roasted peppers which was a bit sickly in my opinion, with the cheese overpowering the meat & pepper.

Stuffed PeppersBarbacoa TacosSalt & Pepper Ancho Chilli Squid

I sampled a few of the margaritas they had including the house & mango versions. I have to say, that for being affiliated with Jose Curevo, the margaritas were slightly lacking in any oomph or taste. The mango version was a bit better than the house but I think that was due to it being a more fruity flavour. The Mexican beers went down well with A, with a porter, IPA & pale ale being on offer. I also liked them but only for the amazing labels!!! For dessert I sampled some of the churros which didn’t contain cinnamon sugar as you would normally expect & had been slightly overcooked since they had lost their doughy texture. I did eat some as the dark chocolate sauce that came with them was so moreish. I accompanied it with a pear & chocolate margarita which was quite sweet but a nice flavour from the traditional lime margarita.

MargaritaPear & Chocolate MargaritaMexican IPA

Churros

Overall, I quite enjoyed Topolabamba but there are clearly some areas that need to be worked on before I could class it as in the same category as Bibi’s.

Sombreros

New Restaurant: Topolabamba

I recently received a press release about the opening of a new Mexican restaurant – Topolabamba. As you may have guessed from previous blogs, I am a big fan of Mexican food so this was music to my ears. With Juan Chihuahua & Las Iguanas popping up in Glasgow over the past year, there has been a definite shift towards Latin American food, which in my opinion is a welcomed relief from the American based dishes.

Topolabamba is situated on St Vincent Street (near Bread Meats Bread) & will open its doors next Wednesday (16 July). The restaurant boats a varied gluten free & vegetarian friendly menu as well as street food favourites such as Chargrilled Steak Tacos & some more regional dishes such as Coca Cola Mexican Short Stack Ribs (definitely one I want to try to see if it works!). They also boast a healthy tequila and mezcal selection with over 30 available as well as Mexican craft beers and, of course, my favourite cocktail, margaritas!

Since the restaurant is opening next week, they are offering places to one of their VIP Opening nights. In true social media style, they are asking members of the public to take a selfie outside the building & use the hashtag #toposelfie when posting the image. The winners will be announced tomorrow so you better be quick!

They are also offering the change to wine an all-inclusive holiday for 2 to Mexico. To enter, just follow this link & enter your details to be in with a chance!

I’m definitely excited about a new Mexican place opening but more excited about another place to go to find the best margarita in Glasgow!!

Valentine’s at Juan Chihuahua

Mexican is definitely one of my favourite, if not favourite cuisines so when I had heard about Juan Chihuahua opening on Sauchiehall St, it went straight to the top of list of places to try. As this was our first Valentine’s as a married couple, I wanted to actually do something rather than stay in with a takeaway so we decided to head to Juan Chihuahua.

The restaurant is based in what used to be the O Couture club & is quite a large restaurant compared to others on the street. We were actually 25 mins early as we had been out for drinks but didn’t want to rush another before dinner. We were seated straight away & that was largely due to the number of free tables – only a third of tables were occupied. The restaurant looks different from the previous outfit with a bar to the right hand side as soon as you walk in, the walls adorned with mexican paraphernalia & a number of booths & tables dotted around the floor.

RoseTortillas & Salsa

As it was Valentine’s day, there were a couple of nice touches including a live Spanish singer & a rose in a bottle of tequila on the table! We ordered some margaritas (it would be rude not too) & I opted for the “skinny” margarita which in actual fact contains the same ingredients as a Tommy’s margarita which is one of the more traditional ways of mixing a margarita. The menu is quite vast, with your choice of all traditional Mexican fair including fajitas, burritos & tacos with some additional burgers & meat/fish based dishes. Our drinks arrived & I noticed mine had coffee beans on the top but when I queried it, the waitress said it was what I ordered. However, there was a language barrier as she was Spanish & in actual fact I was given a “skinny” espresso margarita which was quickly changed once I had pointed out the error. When I did get my margarita, I have to admit it was a bit disappointing as it was really sweet! There was a lot of agave syrup added to it which masked any lime flavour the drink should have.

Margarita

Our starters arrived quite quickly – I had opted for the queso fundido which was a soft taco containing marinated chicken, cheese, hot sauce & mixed peppers/onions. It was well flavoured but I couldn’t help feeling there was something missing from it as it was missing that wow factor. Al opted for quesadillas de pollo, which as it sounds, a chicken quesadilla. I tried a bit of this & in all honesty, it didn’t taste too much different from my own starter, just put together in a different way. The one good point about the quesadilla is the portion of salsa that came with it which had a nice kick to it & was really moreish! On both starters, there was a side salad with a house coleslaw on it & although it tasted a bit like the sort of potato salad you get in the supermarket, it was really addictive & I found myself scoffing the lot.

Quesadilla de PolloQueso Fundido

Our mains took a bit longer to arrive than our starters & I was glad of this as it reassured me that the food was being prepared fresh rather than sitting waiting to go out. I had opted for something I don’t normally go for, a pulled beer enchilada which was HUGE! The beef was accompanied with red jalapenos & red onions as well as the usual refried beans, cheese & sour cream on top. I have a love hate relationship with red jalapenos as I find them too sweet but they worked really well in this dish as they didn’t overpower the taste of the beef, which was melt in the mouth tender. There was also a pot of spiced rice which did have a powdery taste to it as though the spices hadn’t been fully cooked but after a squirt of fresh lime, it transformed the taste. I couldn’t finish all of my enchilada as it was just so big. Al had mixed fajitas (beef, chicken & shrimp) which came in an overflowing skillet with a cute tray with 4 portions of sides. As often with restaurants these days, the fajitas only came with 4 tiny tortillas which quickly vanished but it was made up by the fact that the tortillas were fresh & not shop bought.

FajitasBeef Enchiladas

If you are a mexican food lover, I would definitely recommend Juan Chihuahua as the food was fresh & not to mention the portions were large. Maybe some tweaks on their cocktails to refine the flavour but given that all of the juice in them is freshly squeezed, you can forgive a bit of sweetness here & there!