La Bodega Negra

Michael Franke / Time Out
Michael Franke / Time Out
Michael Franke / Time Out
Michael Franke / Time Out
Michael Franke / Time Out
Scott Wishart / Time Out
Leicester Square

The neon sign outside reads ‘sex shop’; the mannequin in the entrance wears a PVC gimp suit. But the real excitement begins when you descend the stairs into the bowels of this nightclub-like restaurant. It’s so dark and loud you’ll need a moment to adjust (the light bulbs have been blacked out). By comparison, the homely Mexican cooking can feel run-of-the-mill, though effort is put into presentation. On our visit, soft flour tacos with a tender beef filling arrived beautifully arranged on a specially designed wooden board; a crunchy cheese and roasted tomato quesadilla was served ‘open’; pinto beans with a spicy chorizo kick came in a dinky glazed bowl. The real highlight was the dish least concerned with its own looks: a rich lamb shank in intensely dark juices. Seafood cazuela (a one-pot dish like a wet paella), containing clams, squid, prawns and mussels, was creamy, tangy and perfectly fine, though not especially memorable. Factor-in the small portions and two-hour table limits (though you can decamp to the bar), and you might wonder what the fuss is all about. But that would be missing the point. You come here to see and be seen, and for a thrilling atmosphere and exceptionally friendly service. A must-try.


Venue name: La Bodega Negra
Address: 16 Moor Street
Opening hours: Café-bar Open noon-1am Mon-Sat; noon-11.30pm Sun. Meals served noon-midnight Mon-Sat; noon-11pm Sun. Main courses £8-£12. Restaurant-bar Open 6pm-1am Mon-Sat; 6-11.30pm Sun. Meals served 6pm-midnight Mon-Sat; 6-10.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square tube
Price: Main courses £11.50-£27.50.Meal for two with drinks and service: around £65

Average User Rating

2.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:12
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:9
  • 1 star:17
3 people listening
Stefano P
2 of 2 found helpful

My friends always go there and rave about it so I thought I would try it out for myself. The atmostphere and food were amazing I have to say, I highly recommend the quesadilla and octopus and chorizo skewers, the margheritas are spot on as well. I had such a great night out and the staff were attentive and fun! I will defo be back!

sarah H

Dined here last Friday night we got a last minute table from the waiting list, and I am so glad we did! Such a fun place! As soon as you step inside you are welcomed by the staff and made to feel really at home. We decided on a couple of drinks before our meal and were shown through the extensive cocktail list by the lovely bar tender. Once sat we chose a load of share-y bits to start I definitely recommend the prawn ceviche and soft shell crab tacos- yum! And for main the slow roasted lamb - the meat literally fell off the bone! We skipped dessert and had more cocktails in the bar. Very fun night. Will definitely be back with friends.

Charly L


Staff Writer

I had heard such good things about this place, and to be honest was rather disappointed! I genuinely thought it was in the back of a sex shop! The Mexican food was authentic, but I found the menu surprisingly limited and the staff rather off-hand and inattentive. It's been on my list for years, but I won't rush back.


The food was good and i don't mind waiting for a table when i can have a drink beforehand, which we were able to. The problem i had was that they felt it compulsory to charge me a service charge for two bottles of beer... this service was the barman turning 180 degrees, bending down to the fridge and opening two bottles of beer and handing them to me on the other side of the bar.

I have no problem paying a service charge for dinner, when someone is actually servicing but that was a joke and i won't go back because of it.

Chris P

1 star is generous after the service I received tonight. I was told to arrive on time or my table would be given away and then when I arrived on time they told me my table wasn't ready and I would have to wait. They then lost my card and as I was with a friend I had no money to get home at which point they said they couldn't help me! Again they were rude and to top off the food was average at best.


I had a similar experience to Majia, as she descirbed below. I had been planning a visit here with six friends. When we called to make a reservation for six of us, we were asked if we were an all female group. As we were, they refused to take a booking from us. Absolutely appalled at such blatant discrimination. I'm only relieved I didn't try book a table for me and my husband, or I would never have discovered their sexist policy. Needless to say, we took our business elsewhere.


I decided to visit La Bodega Negra with my boyfriend for his birthday, as we both love Mexican food and had heard lots of good things about the restaurant. Well, unless the good reviews came from blind, and deaf diners with no taste buds to speak of, we must have gone to the wrong restaurant. First diners in for the night, we were neglected for a good 20 minutes before anyone even brought over a menu. When a waiter finally did, we were told that there was an hour and a half turn around time on our table, which had now become an hour and 10 minutes. Hmm.. Secondly, the cocktails.. these I must say could have been the only redeeming feature of the night, if they weren't so ridiculously small. Three (small) mouthfuls and the very expensive, tasty margaritas were done for. Finally, we come to the food. Now, having experienced authentic Mexican cooking for many years I can say that some effort is made here in to sticking with tradition, but that's about as good as it gets. The portions, once again, are ridiculously small for the price. The tacos are the smallest that I have ever seen in my life, the fillings handed out in meagre portion sizes. Not only that, but when they arrived the edges were stale and dry, yet when picked up they disintegrated in to nothing indicating that the tacos were not fresh. Odd, considering we were the first diners of the night. The seasoning and spicing is way off the mark: I absolutely adore spicy food, but when mine and my partner's eyes and noses began streaming so badly that we had to get the bill and leave, I was extremely disappointed. To conclude, La Bodega Negra is a trendy Soho cavern that deserves no praise at all other than for its inventive signage and concept. The food is badly flavoured and small, the staff snotty and rude. The only reason that any diners should go there is if they are interested in boasting that they ate in an overpriced sex shop. Who on earth taught the chefs at La Bodega Negra to cook? And why are they allowed to wreak such havoc in the kitchen?! Instead of visiting this place head to El Camion around the corner for excellent cocktails and really tasty, authentic Mexican food (even though the portions are a little small). If you would be willing to go slightly further afield, the BEST Mexican food in London can be found at El Burrito, just off Goodge Street. Sure the restaurant looks like student halls with benches plonked in the middle of it, but since when did eating out become about anything other than the quality and freshness of food on your plate, served by a knowledgeable and smiling server?


They told me when I sat down for dinner that we were only allowed to stay at our table for an hour...


We never even made it to the restaurant due to their ridiculous reservation policy. Myself and a group of friends like to meet up for dinner once a month or so. I had heard read a great review on this place and suggested it as our next venue. I emailed to reserve a table for 8 on a Tuesday night only to be faced with a number of questions which included what the ratio of men to women was... I replied to say we were 7 females and 1 male. A couple of hours later I recieved a snotty reply saying they did not accept large groups of same sex parties as they do not allow hen dos incase they behave erratically and disturb other diners! Err ITS A TUEDAY - We are all late 20s professionals. What did they expect that we'd drink shots and dance on tables? I replied with my obvious disappointment and explained that we were a group of friends looking for a quiet catch up and they were having none of it. They are obviously making too much money if they can turn down custom like this. The food and drink isnt cheap and our will would have easily edged nearer the £200 mark. I get they want to be exclusive and maybe on a weekend a large party of women or men it might be rowdy, but it was a Tuesday ! Absolutely ridiculous.. I for one will never visit this place and hope others avoid it like the plague too Totally pathetic.


From the moment of booking the arrogance of this place should have made us cancel. If you’re willing to pay extortionate prices for what is essentially overrated under flavoured (with the exception of the tuna tostadas’ -1 for £7!!) Mexican then head here. Staff were rude and in effective and then had the cheek to add 15% service. On a plus point the cocktails were excellent


Great night. Loved everything about it - food, drink, music. Super cool vibe. Stayed late at the bar after dinner.


I had dinner there last week. The food was so good, authentic Mexican not this tex mex rubbish. The staff were lovely and very attentive. I had a great evening and will definitley be going back.


This restaurant is awesome. And London needs more places like this. Yes the music is loud but it's great music and a laugh. The margaritas are delicious. Yes the food is more expensive than wahaca but it's way better - pork belly tacos, ceviche, corn salad, open quesadilla (more like a thin pizza) is amazing and I am happy to pay more than wahaca as La Bodega is way better than a brightly lit canteen - I don't know how you can compare the two. La Bodega is the restaurant that starts your night off - each time I've eaten here, we've gone out after. If you are looking for a quiet night, no music, cheap food then don't come here. It's simple. But, if it's something else your after, then definitely give it a try...


This place clearly rates themselves, god knows why! I experienced horrendous customer service and when I asked for the complaints process and the name of the manager they ASSURED me they would send it through. It is over a month later and despite chasing twice I have heard nothing. I am going to ring them, but feel this is my only course of action now. Dont waste your money - GO TO WAHACA!!!!

Tracey Lee

For tantalizing taste, scenester staff and above average prices, La Bodega Negra is where it's at. The good ole grapevine placed La Bodega Negra on my hit list, so my partner and I hit it up in style for date night and we were utterly impressed. After a moments hesitation, we pushed open the door to the neon light lavished entrance, only to discover that the it was fully booked for the evening. Our panic stricken faces must have conveyed enough disappointment to the receptionist to suggest the cafe as an alternative. Though no doubt the suggestion is offered every time to similarly unorganised clientele who have failed to book in advance. Conveniently located around the corner, we found ourselves strolling into the faintly lit La Bodega Negra cafe. The first thing we noticed were the aptly chosen tunes which made us feel like we were visiting our fashionable East London friends. The receptionist was so cool that she oozed cool all over us, so much so, that we felt cool as a result. We were guided to the bar and offered a table, which we rejected as the bar seemed (and proved to be) laid back, private and in amongst it all at the same time. So, if you haven't got my drift already, we were falling in love without having looked at the food or drinks menu. Then came the moment of truth. The drinks menu. My partner (a fairly relaxed kiwi bloke) was relatively easily pleased to find Pacifico on the menu. That said, it's not an easy beer to come by, a true Mexican pilsner -style beer. The temptation of what the emo.indie.punk.rock. bar staff could do in terms of cocktails was too much and I enjoyed a few Mexican Midnights, which are a delicious combo of vodka, vanilla and cinnamon. Delicimo! The food itself was straight forward, tasty, but delicate. A typical mexican menu with nothing outrageous or worth recommending over and above anything else. Portions are not large and prices are not attached in the same manner. Overall, we enjoyed what felt like a bit of an underground evening, and it's worth a try, if not only for the cool factor that it epitomises.


Honestly....if people want to waste their money on utterly average food (you can get better Mexican food at Wahaca for a 1/3 of the price), staff who think they are too cool for school, a basement setting which is decked out but somehow looks 1980's, and such loud music that you can't hear what your friends are saying......go right ahead. Most depressing and insulting thing......was that for a cheap tasting, Shi**y experience in a place that is so try hard and honestly just CR*P... you have the pleasure of paying £134 for 2 people without cocktails at the bar which were also pretty ordinary.


Had read a few reviews of the place but went with an open mind as I'm a true foodie who loves exploring new places and food and soaking up great atmosphere. To sum up this place..... CRAP!!!! Trying very hard to be cool when it clearly isn't. VERY average food.... a few small starters (average) and one main dish...which honestly was insulting! a small dish of undercooked rice soup with 4 mussels, a few tiny pieces of squid, 5 clams and 1 prawn. Tasteless and a joke. Add to that, the fact that you honestly can't even hear what your guests are saying and have to scream at each other is sh*t! The whammy came at the end... that pathetic meal plus 1 bottle of average wine cost £134 pounds!!!!! Pus an extra cocktail each was another £20.... If other people think that the place is cool and want to throw money at terrible food and a place where you can't speak to your friends and you have to listen to a dire DJ.... be my guest. Not for me! 1 * out of 10!!


Food was lovely especially the ceviche, frozen margaritas were good - but a little small for £10. Decor in the basement is cool - fairly original but unfortunately it does not make up for the ridiculous price of food and drink. After two margaritas I asked the waiter if the white wines on the menu were dry he replied that the two cheapest taste disgusting but didn't suggest or recommend any others... So I had a coffee and finished up! Great music but they seem to think they are more original than they actually are!


its my third visit now, and, everytime, we are looking after very well ever. Food is amazing, you have to try their tacos and ceviche, best in town by far. Cocktails are delightful and the place itself is must-to-see.


Fantastic plce, great vibe, friendly staff and amazing food. Best tacos in town, proper Mexican food. Great cocktails. We will be back in droves!!!!

Dan G

Go there!!! and manage to get at least one portion of Pork Belly tacos!!! Its to die for!!! Great service and frozen margaritas!! A MUST in London!!


A smart looking place, but with average food and poor service, it's also fairly expensive. I'd award 2.5 stars if I could, but not 3!


I have been probably 5 times to this restaurant and each time I have loved it. I was so surprised to read these comments. I have only ever eaten in the basement restaurant, rather than the cafe but the best dishes were the prawn tacos, pork belly, guacamole, sea bass and scallop ceviche. Great margaritas too. Waiting staff and managers have always been super helpful. The one thing I would say is that the music is pretty loud so if you are more than 6 people it can be pretty difficult to hear but great atmosphere.


Terrible place with arrogant staff and average food! There was a fly in our drink and we pointed this out to the waitress - she didn't even appologise and had no reaction- just brought us another drink and put on the table without words. Moreover, there is a no photo policy in there, and according to them this is because they are protecting their 'unique' interior (even though there are plenty of pictures on google) and 'they have too many high profile guests who don't want to get photographed' if this was the sole reason to go to this overpriced restaurant. Food and drinks are overpriced, expectations were not met at all and would not recommend this place to anyone.


Food is below average. The staff are horrendous and very slow. Avoid at all costs! There are so many better restaurants in London!


I went for a birthday party last Friday (group of 20 people) . We had THE BEST TIME. The place is amazing, nice crowd, the food delicious and the music heaving! Ambience wise it totally reminded me of Momo's back in the days. Unlike some other comments, I found the bar staff to be very pleasant and helpful.

Steven white

Had a date with the boyfriend Food was amazing waitress attentive wine was epic If anything portion sizes were too big had starter and main could not possibly fit dessert So settled for desert wine instead Greeted in a friendly manner with banter Couldn't fault the service Well worth a visit


Food was terrible at best, with no flavour and indistinguishable texture. The Civeche was drowned in lime and was some of the worst i have ever had. Prices sky high as well. One of the worst food experiences I have had in London over the last 4 years. Avoid it like the plague!


Went here with some girlfriends on Thursday night, thinking it would be somewhere a bit cool and a bit quirky. We were SO disappointed! The entrance was great fun and a real surprise to my friends, the decor downstairs I actually really liked and we all thought the music was fantastic (if a little loud to allow conversation while dining). The food was not bad, although when we got the bill I was shocked and felt that it was very much overpriced (£205 for three people and only £40 of that on drinks and no dessert ordered!). The worst part about this restaurant is its staff - totally unfriendly, pretentious, unhelpful and our waitress was so rude. We were told that we didn't have time to order both a main and dessert (due to the two hour table turnaround) even though we had only been there for an hour. She then went and double checked and said she thought our reservation was for half an hour earlier. We were obviously a bit annoyed that we felt like we were being rushed for no reason and after that she took drinks orders for two of us but completely ignored the third lady on the table. Unbelievably bad customer service and something I have never ever experienced before to such an extent. We will not be returning despite its potential to be a good and fun restaurant.


I wish I had read the comments before deciding to go as I also found it to be extremely overpriced, too noisy and dim. Not only are the staff poorly trained but also extremely rude and impatient. The tables are not suitable for large group dining!


Went to the downstairs reservations only restaurant. Had an ok experience but wouldn't go back for a few reasons: 1. Extremely overpriced for the quality - found the food to be quite bland 2. Incredibly noisy and could barely hear each other talking 3. Food came out way too quickly, all at once, and in no particular order, i.e. therefore if you order starters and mains, the main may come out first if it happens to be ready first. The only things I liked about it were more to do with the experience: sex shop entrance, cool interior and vibe, den like setting, chilled music. But there are much better places for Mexican street food.


Have to agree with the reviews below that classify this place as overpriced style over substance. The tone was set early on by the reservations manager - who was sniffy and unhelpful when we tried to book - and continued in the restaurant. The whole set-up just reeks of knowing, arch hipness which results in a restaurant experience lacking any sense of warmth or welcome. The dishes we ordered in our group were by no means terrible, but in no way justified the price tag or compensated for the atmosphere.


Cool interior, very average food, ran out of 2 desserts (out of 5) at 6.30 on a monday. Service charge is 15% which seems too much.


Bookings staff are unhelpful and rude and extremely unwelcoming. It's enough for me to want to avoid a place like this. Cute restaurant front tho seems I was right not to book here baise on wht the rest of the reviews say !


Had a great night, fantastic bar, friendly and knowledgable waitress, delicious food (esp. the prawns), and dug the interior. Worth checking out


Utterly terrible, terrible service, and that was before we'd even sat down! 2hrs later we got a seat, at the bar! To top it all off the complimentary snacks we got for being made to wait so long were then charged to our bill. Good food, but rude staff. Seriously, do yourself a favour and avoid this one.


Style over substance. Over priced (especially if you go downstairs for the same menu as up + £2). Mexican can be great. But don't dress it up like fine dining because it only leaves you empty in both stomach and wallet.

Oscar M

A completely biased review from Time Out. They recommended it but mentioned so many flaws. I am a Mexican national and recently visited the restaurant. I ordered Chilaquiles which is a great and very simple dish. I was served a dry mushy tortilla chips dish instead. Disappointing to say the least.


Was really looking forward to trying this place out, unfortunately it was really disappointing. The service was awful, the food was tasty but not enough to make up for the bad service.


Having read your review in Time Out we thought we'd give it a try at lunchtime today. We ordered some tacos, a couple of tostaditas and a quesadilla and I have to say the wife and I were not particularly impressed - the best was the chicken tinga tostadita. The tacos were ungenerously filled, the pork pibil and pastor were somewhat dry and £9 for a very average chorizo and cheese quesadilla is steep to say the least! The passion fruit mojito was very good, as was the tomatillo salsa. Not a patch on Lupita, Mestizo or Wahaca.

el gatito rosa

As a Mexican born New Yorker, I'm giving La Bodega 3 stars. The restaurant front and the promise of a taco bar at the entrance were a good start, but I wasn't too impressed with the main interior. La Esquina definitely surpasses La Bodega in good decor vibes. The waiter was very attentive and friendly, but got a few things wrong :S I ordered some traditional Mexican dishes to see if they measured up, but I was immensely disappointed by the tacos al pastor (actually completely lacking in flavour, how is this possible?); but it is important to note that the huitlacoche quesadillas were GREAT. Tamarind water was pretty delicious and authentic! I was told the bar man is Mexican! Waiter was also curious to know what I thought about the food, and welcomed my criticisms, which was very sweet. I will try it again in a few months to see if they've improved a bit, and I will definitely try some of their drinks. Might be opening month jitters?


Wow! Interesting write up... Is it just me or is a 'black corn truffle' a mushroom?!? I asked for the pork tacos, and both times they brought me cooked pig meat- with no explanation! Outrageous ;-) Amazing food, extraordinary and brave decor, amazing private room, like being in Diego rivera's toy box. And the sex shop entrance gives you a chill before the warm exclusivity of the restaurant! Brilliant stuff


Waitress dropped salsa down my back, then my food didn't come, then the wrong food came, then the waiter argued that it wasn't his fault, then the bill came in a box which was dropped on my arm. Food was ok. My colleagues didn't like theirs - soggy tortilla chips with stingy portion of beef. The good bits were the decor, the fact the manager gave us a free beer. I won't be going again. Wahacca is miles better.

Leyla H
0 of 2 found helpful

The food was fab but it did all take a long time and so did the bottle of wine we ordered - like half an hour long - so our waiter said it would be on the house. And it wasn't - so he said we had to speak to the manager - who said that the waiter shouldn't have offered us that, it was out of his remit and if we wanted to show our complaints about it, we should not pay the service charge! Poor waiter! How awful is that?! Outrageous - and obvs horribly canny as of course we didn't deduct service (though we did make sure it actually went to wait staff first...)