Restaurant review: The Loco

Image credit: Joël Reland and Katrine Tilgaard Petersen
Image credit: Joël Reland and Katrine Tilgaard Petersen

If our review of Bedouin last week brought you a taste of Mill Road aristocracy (a well-established, luxurious establishment which always delivers), then The Loco is very much the new kid on the block. As such it boasts an exciting and energetic creativity, but is still on a slightly chaotic search for a coherent identity.

The Loco is a Mexican restaurant which manages to evoke the apparently accepted convention that Mexican food has to be ‘fun’ and ‘festive’, without crossing into the realm of cliché. The room is spacious, well-lit and full of colour; giant blackboards advertise specials in bold fonts, whilst funky plants and slightly embellished Mexican ornaments are everywhere on display. The Loco does not hold back on visuals, right down to its variety of brightly coloured chairs. If only more people would come to sit on them.

The few times we have been there it has been a surreal experience. The food was of genuine gastronomic quality, yet the milieu resembled a child’s birthday party to which no one had shown up, replete with 80s and 90s bangers coming out of the speaker system.

Oh, the food. What The Loco excels at is going beyond formulaic Mexican cuisine. We had a couple of classics, nachos (excellent) and beef tacos (slightly dry), yet these were not the highlights. The calamares starter and tuna steak main, marinated in coriander, both showed great attention to detail. The delicately battered calamares had a crispiness often lacking in other restaurants, and the bold, hearty Tuna steak was well off-set by sides of chili chips and sweet potato fries, and of course dips. Special shout out to the fries!

Alongside the food, it offers a vibrant array of cocktails at reasonable prices; there is much potential here, but it still needs greater direction. Newly founded (‘website under construction’), the Loco is still struggling to make itself known. Its Facebook page advertises cocktail nights, jazz nights, a new lunch menu, as well as framing itself as a perfect place for birthday events. The food still needs a reputation to match it.

We cannot say exactly how The Loco will develop, only that we encourage you to make a visit. With great food, fun drinks, and lots of special events, it would be a shame to see The Loco’s great potential go to waste.

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