When French rotisserie Dodu’s closure was announced a couple of months ago
, founder Hugo de Mondragon already had its replacement mapped out, a Mexican bistro named Mezcalito. Set in the same two-storey space on Changshu Lu, it’s now fully open with a few new design tweaks (a sun mural painted on the wall upstairs, stools patterned in bright prints and a laidback Latin soundtrack). Instead of rotisserie chicken, the team are turning out tacos and other fare like nachos and guacamole to be scarfed down alongside lots of agave-based booze.
The taco list itself is a long one featuring a bit of everything from fillings like al pastor, chicken and beef to roasted duck with tamarind sauce, octopus and chorizo and a deep-fried tempura crab that takes up two tortillas. Cauliflower and mixed mushroom variations also give vegans something to nosh on. Prices start at 26RMB for one; 48RMB for two, with the crab the most expensive of the lot at 78RMB.
While the tacos may well hog a lot of the spotlight, other parts of the menu are worth trying too – especially the seared tuna-topped tostada served with avocado, salsa macha and, if you desire… ants (ordered on request at no extra cost). Those who are willing to give dessert a whirl – no matter how many tacos they've had – can choose between two cakes: chocolate lava and mole or 'corn textures', a super creamy corn cake made with feta cheese and corn puree.
As for the drinks: the main star is mezcal, a spirit de Mondragon knows lots about (he’s also behind Espiritu
on Yongfu Lu). You can sip it neat from a selection of 17 bottles – each with a brief description of flavours and accompanied by orange wedges, worm salt and fried maguey worms, edible caterpillers used in mezcal production that are common in Mexican food and pretty much taste like French fries. It also arrives in cocktails including a coconut and cinnamon libation called Coco Chido, a Mexican old fashioned and a mezcalita (a mezcal-based margarita). Not feeling the smoky mezcal? Tequila drinks and classics like espresso martinis, mojitos and more are available – plus for non-boozers, fresh juices, Pao sodas and horchata.
All up, as sad to see Dodu go as we were, Mezcalito is a solid spot for Mexican. The patio is still there, beckoning a session of people watching, only now with tacos and margaritas – which is always a good thing in our books.