Al PastorThe Al Pastor tacos

What can you tell us about El Pastor?

It's the latest restaurant from the Hart Brothers, best known for being behind the extremely popular Barrafina restaurants and also Quo Vadis and its upstairs club.

But this is something of a departure for them?

Other than Jeremy Lee's British cooking at Quo Vadis, they've been concentrating on Spanish cuisine, whereas this restaurant sees them going Mexican, with a particular focus on tacos.

tostadosSesame tuna tostadas

And where have they opened?

Again, something of a departure as they've moved south of the river for the first time, landing right beside Borough Market, just around the corner from Padella. They've set up shop in one of the old railway arches, so the view from the front hides a deceptively larger place inside.

Who's it suitable for?

It's certainly going to be a prime spot for anyone shopping at Borough Market - and ideal drop-in spot. And if you fancy spending an evening with margaritas and tacos this is by far the best spot in the area. It definitely has more of a casual/party vibe than, say, Barrafina.

So - where should we sit?

If you're just popping in for a quick taco fix - and it's a no-booking restaurant - then the stools and perches at the front part of the restaurant are your best bet, while bigger groups might prefer to move to the back room by the kitchen.

shortribThe short rib before being tacoed

And what should we order?

Tacos, obviously. And the Al Pastor taco with its 24 hour marinated pork shoulder is the main event. They're £2.50 each and, on reflection, we'd recommend ordering at least a couple of these each. 

The Chicharron de queso - rolled cheese crisps at £3.50 - sound like they could be a major draw but, alas, weren't ready when we popped in. 

As for larger dishes, head towards one of the big make-your-own taco plates. So that's either the pork carnitas (£6 per person), or in our case, the short rib with pineapple habanero salsa (£15). This will happily keep you going and don't be shy about asking for more tortillas. And don't forget, like us, to add the bone marrow (£3) which we're only now noticing as we look at the menu while writing this up. Curses.

ques2The folded Pastor quesadilla

Outside of the tacos, you should head straight for the sesame tuna tostada (2 for £8). It's an ideal snack to have while you're contemplating your tacos order. And we have a deep-seated love for quesadillas and found the ones at El Pastor to be mighty fine. The one with Pastor pork is arguably the main event here, which you fold yourself, but we really liked the simple cheese version just as much.

Do save some room for desserts. The E.F. Bounty Bar for £5 (which might be re-named if Hawksmoor's "Rolos/tributes" experience is anything to go by) is exactly what it sounds like, a poshed-up, chocolate covered bar of sticky coconut. A must-order. 

coconutEF "Bounty Bar"

How about drinks?

The main focus here is on cocktails, tequila and that drink of the moment - mezcal. And while you could happily work your way through the evening with margaritas, we would specifically recommend the Pina Del Oro (tequila, sage syrup, pineapple juice, fresh lemon - £8).

There's a short wine list too, all available by the carafe, including the Hart Bros excellent Albarino too, always worth a recommendation.

Overall?

This is a buzzing taco joint with great cocktails and plenty of mezcal, in a popular foodie spot. We can't see how it would fail to be a hit. Good luck on getting a table anytime soon.

El Pastor is at 7A Stoney St, London SE1 9AA. Find out more about El Pastor

Hot Dinners were invited to El Pastor. Prices were correct at the time of writing. 

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