El Mariachi, Avebury Avenue, Tonbridge, 2 November 2018

We were greeted with a lovely welcome at El Mariachi, Tonbridge’s very own Mexican restaurant, when I visited with a friend a couple of Fridays ago. This restaurant was in the first wave of those dipping their toe in the Tonbridge dining scene and they’ve stood the test of time; this is no mean feat considering their location too, tucked away down Avebury Avenue.

Photo courtesy of El Mariachi restaurant

Photo courtesy of El Mariachi restaurant

I have visited a few times over the last seven years but I definitely haven’t been for a while so it was a lovely surprise to be invited. My friend and I supped on cocktails - obviously had to try the classic Mexican cocktail the margarita - whilst we perused the menu. The restaurant walls are decorated with a mural of the Mexican desert, complete with colourful ponchos and sombreros adorning the walls, beautiful star shaped lights hanging from the ceiling which really reminded me of the film Coco, and Mexican music playing in the background - and not just of The Gypsy Kings variety. It was quite quiet that Friday but the manager told us that they are booked up Friday and Saturday nights - they must be doing something right!

The menu consists of all the classics you’d expect, fajitas, burritos, quesadillas and the like plus steaks, fish and burgers. For starters there was a good deal whereby you could choose three for £15 so we chose some pulled pork balls, prawn and avocado tostado and mussels in a chilli sauce. Perhaps not typically Mexican but hey, they were on a menu in a Mexican restaurant so they were up for the taking!

The prawn and avocado tostado has the potential to be great but came out looking rather untidy as did the mussels, the former being drowned in sauce. The pulled pork balls were better but the pork had been marinated in a BBQ sauce which was too sweet for my palate - but my friend loved it!

The starters may have been a little disappointing but we were onto the main event - of course we had gone for fajitas! I love the fact that fajitas come out with such ceremony - first the tortillas in their warmers, then the accompaniments of guacamole, salsa, cheese and sour cream and then the meat or veg, sizzling as it comes to the table - all brought to us by fantastic wait staff. The meat was great, very tasty and we really enjoyed creating our wraps - it’s a very hands on experience! The accompaniments are all homemade at El Mariachi which is fantastic and a critical USP.

After two courses and a few cocteles, we were full and had a great chat with the manager who was telling us all about the restaurant and their plans.

We had a great evening, really enjoying the fajitas and the ambience. El Mariachi is really versatile:

  • a great place to take children as there is a kids’ menu and fajitas are designed for children right? - no cutlery required!

  • a great place for a group night out - don the sombreros and down the tequila! (Always drink responsibly of course!);

  • a great place for lunch.

Gracias El Mariachi - voy a volver!

El Mariachi generously paid for our meal but it would have come to about £41. They also greeted us with a complimentary drink but our other four cocktails came to £25.80.