This Mexican Restaurant Has A Secret Tequila Bar Hidden In Its Basement • Cavita

Adriana Cavita is no stranger to London’s kitchens, nor the London food scene in general. Just in the past year she’s done a pop-up dining experience at Hacha, one of London’s favourite agaverias, cooked up food at Soho House to raise funds for Action Against Hunger, and filmed a documentary series about Mexican cuisine. Oh, and she’s only gone and opened one of London’s most exciting new Mexican restaurants, launching Cavita right in the middle of Marylebone.

The highly-anticipated debut restaurant from Adriana Cavita landed on Wigmore Street back in May, taking considerable inspiration from the chef’s recent travels and upbringing. It’s an experiential restaurant, one that encapsulates the sights, sounds, and smells of Mexico, while telling the story of Cavita’s heritage and how she learned to cook. The cosy dining room draws from Cavita’s life and travels. Cacti and plants fill a room with wooden and tile elements suffused with a warm earthy colour palette, and exposed brickwork throughout.

Don’t for one second think, however, that it looks like any other ‘exposed brickwork eatery’ in London. There’s a charm and beauty to Cavita, no doubt stemming from the love that went into its creation, that infuses tiles and wood and brick with life and warmth. Want an extra special experience? Make sure to book the “top table”, which is served by chef Adriana Cavita herself and offers the best view of the kitchen.

The menu at Cavita

Cavita’s menu starts off with a “raw” selection of appetisers, which changes depending on the fish in season. Dishes celebrate the wealth and diversity of British seafood, by coupling it with Mexican flavour profiles of chilli, lime, and smoke. At any one time you may be able to choose from brightly-flavoured dishes such as the Carlingford Rock Oysters, with homemade clamato and beer granite, or the Aguachile Rojo, with king fish, grasshopper salt, watermelon, and rainbow radish. Alongside the raw bar, diners can also start their meal with a range of appetisers such as the Mussels Esquites, which pairs the shellfish with nixtamalized heirloom corn, and a grilled take on a Caesar salad.

Given Adriana Cavita’s dedication to presenting the food and culture of Mexico, it should come as no surprise that the menu also features a “from the street” section. This ranges across the breadth of the country’s street food offerings, from Baja Fish Tacos to Smoked Beef Shin Quesabirria. Other lesser-known (to Londoners) options “from the street” include the Tetelas, masa stuffed with a variety of fillings, and the Tlayuda. A Tlayuda is, at its simplest, a sort of Oaxacan pizza. A toasted, or lightly fried, tortilla gets topped with a variety of ingredients: at Cavita that means smoked beef, chile butter, black bean, avocado puree, curd, and morita sauce.

And then there are the sharing platters. There’s charred grilled octopus, with guajillo and pasilla adobo, and nopales, wood grilled chicken with vibrant green mole and coal-roasted veggies, or a whole sea bream cooked inside banana leaves. I’m not the only one salivating, right?

Now keep in mind folks, this is a rotating menu, so this is just a taster, so to speak, of Cavita’s menu. And we haven’t even touched on their brunch or lunch offerings!

Mayahuel at Cavita

a top down shot of a cocktail from Mayahuel, the secret tequila bar in the basement of Cavita
Credit: @mayahuel, via Instagram

Ah, yes, Cavita’s little secret. Downstairs, hidden away from prying eyes, you’ll find Mayahuel, a proper agave den. From the cocktail bar and mezcaleria, they serve up high-quality mezcal, tequila, and plenty of other agave-based spirits. And plenty of cocktails, of course. They’re so passionate about agave at Mayahuel, in fact, that they even offer up agave flights, and food and spirit pairings that match agave to food such as olive, dark chocolate, grapefruit, tomato, and grasshopper salt to emphasise their flavour profiles.

That doesn’t mean it’s just a place to learn about mezcal, however, as there’s a perfectly short, but sweet, menu of bar snacks for those just looking for somewhere to relax with a drink in one hand and another hand deep in a bowl of Oaxacan style peanuts. They’ve got some craft Mexican beers for those after a more relaxed drink, and if you need more than just a snack, there’s the Smoked Beef Shin Quesabirria. What more could you ask for?

Added to all that, the vibes are simply immaculate. Seriously, if a bar could smoulder, it would look like Mayahuel. It’s all exposed concrete, low lighting, and wooden accents that clearly express a unity with the upstairs venue, but a spirit of its own. Your first visit will probably end with you sipping a cocktail at Mayahuel. And your next visit will probably start there.

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