Like the final of Bake Off, my desert island food list and learning the words to the entire ‘La La Land’ soundtrack, this is something I take very seriously.
When they’re bad, I’m not happy and my less-than-perfect poker face will do the honours and let you know. Cheap meat cooked badly and stuffed begrudgingly into heavy, lumpy tortillas does not a good Mexican time make but when they’re good? Oh man, they totally transport me back to downtown LA, to dives where I’ve feasted like a fricking queen, to beach-side shacks where the juices have dribbled down my hands and onto the sand beneath my feet, to meals I’ll never forget and have tried to replicate & recreate in every other part of the world I’ve visited since.
FYI, we all realise I’m talking about soft corn tortillas that fit perfectly in your hand here and not the splintery shells that wage a personal war on your poor innocent gums, yes? Ok good, just checking.
This adoration of the taco makes its’ current resurgence in London something I’m damn happy about and when a work colleague – who you better believe I’ll be shaking the hand, patting the back and kissing the cheek of tomorrow morning – told me about a little spot on Goldhawk Road that served up awesome reincarnations of these moreish beauties, I’d been waiting for the right time to go west (and let’s just pause for a second to remind ourselves of how many great songs those kings of the ’80’s had) and get stuck in. Well, thanks to a Saturday date night with J, Sean Lock and a few thousand stand up comedy fans in Hammersmith, that time arrived this weekend.
Killer Tomato is loud. It’s colourful. It’s verging on brash and it’s super friendly. Most importantly, it’s small and it’s reservation free. Get there at the right time – note to all you fellow blue rinse brigaders, just before 6pm on a Saturday is near to perfect – and you’ll be sat drinking pilsner from a cold can before you can say ‘carne asada’…
…of which there is none on the menu. There’s also no carnitas or barbecoa, neither of which I have anything against but both of which I’ve eaten twenty three million times before so options that are creative yet still impeccably executed are always gonna make me happier more than a hen party at a Mamma Mia matinee.
Vietnamese pork, peppered squid & feather-blade steak are all on the taco menu (2 for £6.50 or any 3 for £10) while burritos offer fried chicken thigh, roasted sweet potato & feta or pork belly for an entirely reasonable £8. Plus, y’know that thing that some places masquerading as Mexican places of culinary pilgrimage do? Packing the burrito with so much rice as a filler that eventually you have to ask for a miners lamp & a pick-axe just to find anything else? Not in this joint and not on the Tomato’s watch.
Tortilla chips were crispy and guac was smooth (though I wouldn’t have objected to a touch more salt in it) and of course you’re gonna have both while
downing sipping that first Crazy Mountain but y’know what else you have to get? The brisket croquettes with sriracha mayo. Seriously, if you don’t I’m kinda gonna question whether you should be allowed out to eat at all. Fat, crispy & golden with just the right amount of deep-fried give, these chubby nuggets of fall-apart beef are perfect. Share them if you can, dunk them in your cup of spiced mayo and try not to order another portion immediately because hold onto your heart, here come the cheeseburger tacos.
Fusion food doesn’t have to be dainty and darling in appearance. Sometimes it just needs to be freakin’ good. I have to be honest here though and it pains me to say that despite appearances, these tacos aren’t actually that good…
Light tortillas filled with cheese slathered mince, crisp lettuce, crunchy onions & pickle spears…round 2 of these bad boys was being ordered while round 1 was still smeared down our chins. They. Are. Everything. And. I. Love. Them.
Setting the bar that high at the start makes it hard for anything else to follow suit but credit where it’s due, the beer-battered cod put up a good fight. Fat & flaky fish was wrapped in a light, fresh coating and nicely offset with cabbage & radish plus, I’m always gonna have time for a blue corn tortilla or six…
…while the Korean sticky fried chicken packed an almighty wallop of sticky, sesame-seeded heat. Finger-licking & delicious as it is, if Pizza Express’s American Hot is the culmination of your adventures in spicy food so far, probably best to skip this one.
I kinda love this place. Ah, who am I kidding? I freakin’ adore it. J & I were both guilty of texting people before we’d even left to let them know we’d be coming back and they’d be our excuse for a speedy return and a
toe dip swan dive into the Saturday afternoon all-you-can-eat taco brunch. When you live in the capital, it’s dangerously predictable to end up devoted only to your neck of the woods – I might be a north London gal at heart but a little piece of my stomach will always be on Goldhawk Road from now on.