La Choza – Say Hola! to the best Mexican street food in Brighton
I’m not a huge fan of minced food or anything too stodgy so I used to think Mexican food wasn’t for me. But I’ve come to realise chilli con carne, nachos, hard tacos and fajitas are all Tex-Mex inventions, not authentic Mexican street food.
The food served on the roadside in South America is very different. It’s fresher, lighter and bursting with flavour. It’s also pretty healthy too.
There are very few places that serve authentic Mexican street food in Brighton but independently owned La Choza is one spot that does.
A small and vibrantly painted restaurant with an outside seating area – it’s pretty hard to miss it once you find your way through the maze of the North Laine.
The interior is just as wacky as the outside too, with Day of the Dead masks, cactus plants and brightly colour flowers dotted high and low.
La Choza opened in June 2012, setup and still run independently by two single mothers and good friends, Aoife Sweeney and Annie Gelpey. Both lived in Brighton and had spent time travelling in Mexico as well as sharing a love of good food and cooking.
Later on came a pop up at the Hare & Hounds pub for two years, before the partners opened a second larger restaurant in July 2017, the former site of Root Candi on Western Road.
A few weeks ago I went along to the original Gloucester Street restaurant to review a special, one-off regional dinner, designed to take me on a culinary journey around Mexico.
The night began with a killer Passionfruit Margarita that kicked my taste buds into action and prepared me for my first course – a dish from the Yucatán peninsula in the South of Mexico.
Cubes of fresh mango with octopus ceviche came marinated in orange and lime juice, with a drizzle of coriander-habanero (chilli) oil. It was sublime – sharp, fresh with a manageable fiery kick. Not a trace of a rubbery ring.
Next our tastebuds travelled south, to central Mexico to try an influence from the city of Dolores Hidalgo.
This was an impressive dish too; a jalapeño chilli stuffed with smoked tender pork, then cooked in egg whites before finishing it off with cheese, a slice of toast and a rustic tomato sauce.
After this came duck leg in a yellow mole sauce (a sauce that, when made from scratch, will have no less than 20 ingredients).
Served with Mexican rice, baby green beans and baby carrot, this dish came from Oaxaca in Mexico. The meat was so tender it fell off the bone and the sauce was deeply rich and comforting.
If that wasn’t enough of a treat, the duck also came with a punchy Montelobos Mezcal lime margarita with a chilli rim, for an added kick.
Our last savoury course came from Sonora in North Mexico. Sat on top of a soft corn tortilla, I was presented with seared arrachera (skirt of beef, cured in lime, garlic and lager beer) with a garnish of radish slices and chimichurri salsa.
There was superb flavour here but it wasn’t quite as tender than the pork we’d had at the start of the evening.
The final treat was a tres leche cake, topped with strawberries, redcurrants and a generous splash of XO café Patron, plus a shot of Jimador reposado tequila on the side for good measure! It was a seriously delicious dessert and reminded me of a boozy fruit flan, drenched in sweet evaporated milk.
Must Go | Worth A Try | Give It A Miss
Price: £35pp with a shot and a margarita included
You’ll always have a great time if you head to La Choza, especially if you get on the boozy cocktails (along with the owners who love to join in). The food here is also incredibly good value with the regular mains all under £10. Plus, if you have special dietary requirements (like a nut allergy) they are also very good at catering for that too.
Need to know
At the Western Road La Choza it’s 2-4-1 on margaritas every Monday and on Tuesdays, they also run ‘Taco Tuesday’ where tacos are £3 and Dos XX Mexican beer is £2.50. Plus on Wednesdays La Choza has several plant-based specials for the vegan and vegetarian crowd.
36A Gloucester Rd, Brighton BN1 4AQ
*Disclaimer: I was invited to La Choza but with or without an invite, my review remains the same – a fair and honest account.
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