Jun 22 2005

London Mexican restaurant reviews: Cafe Sol in Greenwich

by in United Kingdom, Western Europe

As I mentioned in my previous post about Greenwich, we decided to partake of some Mexican food after an exciting day of observing clocks at the Royal Observatory. I’ve decided that as a service to the internet community, I will always post a “review” of any Mexican restaurant I visit in London. So, today’s location is Cafe Sol in Greenwich.

First thing I noticed about Cafe Sol: Dude, where’s the chips and salsa? Yes, that’s right – NO FREE CHIPS AND SALSA. This is a MAJOR faux pas in my book. No self-respecting Mexican restaurant in the US would fail to provide its diners with complimentary chips and salsa!

As for the menu, it included a variety of “Mexican” and “Texan” food, with the Texan food consisting of steak, ribs, and BBQ hamburgers. The Mexican dishes were fajitas, tacos, burritos, enchiladas and mini-chimichangas. The appetizers were nachos, chips and salsa (still pissed off you have to pay for that!), a weird dip thing that listed hummus as an ingredient (I love hummus, but in a Mexican restaurant? I think not!), and some non-Mexican appetizers such as stuffed mushrooms, chicken wings, and “Texas” corn on the cob.

I was considering the mini-chimichangas, but noticed that they came with mushrooms and was a bit freaked out, as I couldn’t imagine mushrooms in a chimichanga. I was debating over asking for the mini-chimichangas without mushrooms, but I wasn’t sure if the food was, how shall we say this, pre-made and then heated up in an oven. Besides, I hate mushrooms, and seeing them as an ingredient totally turned me off from the chimichangas. Next, I considered the burrito, but this listed sweetcorn as an ingredient! Ewwww. I’m not a big fan of sweetcorn (especially when it is in a burrito), but apparently it is Britain’s 2nd favourite culinary vegetable, which explains why they add it to EVERYTHING!

I finally settled for the lunch special, which allowed you to choose an appetizer and certain main courses for �5.95, (a rather good price for London). I opted to have the “muchos nachos” for my appetizer and the shredded beef tacos for my main course.

Surprisingly, the “muchos nachos” were actually quite decent. They used some great cheese, included guacamole and sour cream, and provided plenty of jalapenos. The one drawback, though, was the type of chips they used. They weren’t doritos, but were damn close, as they had some weird cheese flavor. UGH! Why can’t these places just use regular tortilla chips??? Taline mentioned that they deserved an “A for effort”, but this review is going to be brutally honest and focus only on the food. I’ll admit that their nachos were some of the best I’ve had in London, but sadly, their use of these faux-Doritos knocks the nachos grade down to a B-.

As for the tacos…well…see for yourself:

LOOK AT THOSE TACO SHELLS! THEY ARE FROM A FREAKIN’ TACO KIT YOU CAN BUY AT THE GROCERY STORE! THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE DISGRACE! Seriously, it is not very hard to make your own taco shells. Even a horrible chef such as myself could do that. And notice how the taco dish is served…they don’t even make the tacos for you, they just throw some pre-made taco shells on a plate, add a bowl of meat, a handful of lettuce and cheese, and a small dollop of sour cream! Wow, thanks!

The portion sizes were horrible. As you can see, the meat came in this small bowl, and there was hardly enough sour cream for two tacos! The meat itself was not too bad, but there simply was not enough for three tacos. (Of course, they provided enough lettuce to fill six tacos, go figure!) Also, where are the beans and rice? This is a staple for every taco meal! Due to the above factors (and especially the pre-made taco shells), Cafe Sol’s tacos receive a big fat F.

Ohhh my God, I can’t wait to have some real Mexican food!

This Californian was also not impressed with the Mexican food.

Ummm what a cute mural:

Interior shot:

I love the cactus and tablecloths with flying eyeballs.

So, if you’re looking for some excellent Mexican food, you won’t find it at Cafe Sol in Greenwich. I’m still searching, though! Taline says there is a place called “Nachos” that I must try. Looking forward to it…

[Edit: Just remembered that Gayle left a comment on my previous rant about Mexican food:
“You should try Cafe Sol on Clapham High St. Well worth the trek down to South London. The only decent Mexican in London! Beware though, it should not be confused with its sister restaurant in Greenwich, as although they are related the Greenwich one is definitely from the dodgy side of the family!”

Hahaha…yes, Greenwich was definitely dodgy! Damn, wish I had remembered this bit of advice. I’ll have to give the Clapham High St. restaurant a try.]

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16 Responses to London Mexican restaurant reviews: Cafe Sol in Greenwich

  1. From Cincysundevil:

    Well, at least the atmosphere was a bit more on point than the place with onion rings and Cool Ranch Doritos!

    Posted on June 26, 2005 at 3:48 pm #
  2. From Grant Winters:

    Hello Ladies. So you need a good Mexican fix??? Frustrated with the food in London? I know how you feel. I think can help you… Come visit me at my kitchen (EL PANZON) at the Hobgoblin, 95 Effra Rd., Brixton, London SW2
    Evenings 0207 924 9888. I´ll try and post one to you via Email. Yours faithfully
    Grant Winters

    Posted on December 22, 2005 at 4:32 am #
  3. From roifield:

    hope you dont mind but I’ve used your photo of Cafe Sol here, with a link a back http://www.mygreenwich.org/greenwich/bars&Music-review-cafe_sol.htm

    Posted on September 3, 2006 at 11:49 am #
  4. From Anonymous:

    Sorry–your problem is that your comparing everything to how food tastes in America. I’ve been to both cafe sol’s in london and the one in greenwich is definitely better (and no I don’t work there or have friends there, etc). Its attitudes like yours that definitely give a new name to the phrase “ugly american”

    Posted on June 21, 2007 at 11:39 am #
  5. From Lindsay:

    If comparing the authentic Mexican food I grew up with to the bastardized crap that poses as “Mexican food” at Cafe Sol makes me an “Ugly American”, then I will accept that title with pride. FYI, I make fun of the crappy Mexican food on the East Coast of the USA as well…does that make me an “Ugly Californian”?

    Posted on June 23, 2007 at 1:48 pm #
  6. From US ExPat:

    You are a brave soul. Good Mexican/Tex-Mex food London is as rare as rocking horse turd.

    Posted on June 28, 2007 at 1:15 pm #
  7. From Ever:

    Thanx for this review … I love mexican food and will look for this place when I get back to London.
    Mexican food is very difficult to find in Brazil.

    Posted on January 25, 2008 at 11:58 am #
  8. From michele:

    travel for what if u seem just to compare things with USA?

    Posted on October 26, 2009 at 3:42 pm #
  9. From Lindsay:

    Because everything in the USA is numero uno, dude.

    Posted on October 26, 2009 at 9:26 pm #
  10. From Phillip Donegal:

    Where NOT to eat in Greenwich
    My family & I was out on a Bank holiday trip (Monday 31st May) and ended up in Cafe Sol.
    Staff were nice & accommodating until our food came and we found small ants in one dish. DO NOT EAT THERE!?!
    Manager did not take responsibility as you would have hoped and we had to fight to take most items off our bill especially the service charge.

    Posted on May 31, 2010 at 6:15 pm #
  11. From Jaclyn:

    No, she has a right to compare it with food in America, because Mexican food there is much more authentic considering our location to Mexico, and London’s. Get over it. I lived in Australia and now London , and yes sadly, Mexican food seems to be lacking on the global level. Now I will say this, the curries in England are fantastic, why? Because its what you do good, but you just can’t make good Mexican food, its not England’s fault, its the lack of mexican immigrants who bring their culture and subsequently have the proper ingredients readily available to make outstanding mexican cuisine.

    Posted on May 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm #
  12. From John:

    I’ve taken my family there and agreed, the taste isn’t what we have in Houston or San Antonio. I teased my sister when I saw the look on her face at Del Sol that they imported the wrong Indians and that’s why the fajitas tasted of curry. All in good fun.

    The furnishings were authentic enough to warm one’s heart on a cold summer’s day there though (cold compared to 30+C in Houston, ha)…

    But on the flip side, I’ve been hunting for decent meat pies, Yorkie chocolate bars and proper McVities chocolate digestives for three years since my return from London and it’s all rubbish here. And don’t get me started on Guinness, ha. I thought I was an aficionado prior to my stay in England but it’s forever ruined me. A nice thick, room-temperature pint of Guinness is one of the first semi-liquids I’m ordering upon my return.

    And maybe a margarita at Del Sol…?

    Posted on February 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm #
  13. From John:

    Ah i realised I mistyped the restaurant name TWICE. I’ve been spending too much time with the natives in central Texas – the name would have been ‘Cafe Del Sol’.

    But it’s an honor to have tex-mex represented in London (even if visitors like me get the name confused), and for that I’m grateful 🙂

    Posted on February 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm #
  14. From Lindsay:

    John, you should check your local World Market (http://www.worldmarket.com). They always have McVities in stock!

    Posted on February 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm #
  15. From John:

    Ah cheers for that Lindsay, I see one not too far from where I currently reside. Oooo and they have PG Tips as well. Shall give that a go.

    Yay now for some proper Yorkies. A retailer named ‘Randalls’ stocks what appear to be Yorkies in the same packaging at some ‘Flagship’ locations but there’s a not-so-subtle taste difference.

    Funny how these types of things are noticed. I still think the opportunity of buying a ‘Subway’ sandwich in the UK with sweetcorn as a topping is completely alien, haha.

    Posted on February 23, 2012 at 3:07 am #
  16. From Denise:

    I live in Southern California where I can get Mexican food anytime. When I was there 3 years ago my friend & I agreed that the food here was as good as most Mexican restaurants here. I LOVE THIS PLACE & when I am in London I need my Mexican fix. Plan on returning in May. Hope I wont be disappointed.

    Posted on February 26, 2012 at 2:45 pm #
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