Los Sotano (CLOSED)
Time Out says
A slick Mexican hideout in LKF that impresses with its voluminous list of tequila and mescal, but which otherwise struggles to stand out from the pack
Why Los Sotano? That’s the question Lan Kwai Fong’s new arrival needs to answer given Brickhouse is almost literally right across the street. Much like Brickhouse, Los Sotano is a hidden Mexican bar (the entrance is a giant Avion barrel with a skull on Wing Wah Lane) with an impressive range of tequila and mezcal and which serves a small range of Mexican food.
So far so similar but at least the vibe is different in Los Sotano. Whereas Brickhouse is grungy to the point of hip, Los Sotano is all sleek artifice – most in evidence on the wall of gold skulls next to the bar, which look like a Damien Hurst cast off, and the bartenders’ regimented plaid shirts and snapback caps.
We pull up a stool at the bar and flick through the drinks menu. Though there are more than 70 varieties of tequila and 40 different types of mezcal, we decide to give the cocktails a try. The descriptions of each are cute and amusing, taking pot shots at everyone from Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to drug lord Carlos Slim and the French (their 19th century intervention in Mexican politics clearly not forgotten).
We ask for a Mescal Mule ($140), a combination of Montelobos mezcal, homemade ginger syrup, fresh lime and ginger ale. The drink looks good, especially the skewered slices of ginger but it’s disappointingly saccharine, the cloying sweetness overpowering the mezcal’s natural smokiness.
Los Sotano serves food until 2am, so in between drinks we order up one pork and one fried chicken taco. At $50 each, these palm-sized nibbles don’t come cheap – they’re the same price as most tacos over at 11 Westside, which are probably the city’s best. Our fried chicken taco never arrives and, though we could chase the order, we decide to let it slide. The pork taco is pleasantly hot from the kitchen and well seasoned but it doesn’t wow like the aforementioned offerings over in Kennedy Town.
Of course, the acid test of any Mexican bar is its margarita. The Los Sotano Margarita ($120) features Avion silver tequila, lime, agave and a nondescript orange liqueur. Served shaken with ice and a half salt rim, it’s a refreshing but punchy concoction. The citrus notes are sharp at the back end without being dominant.
So why Los Sotano? For the extensive tequila and mezcal collection, which betters even that of nearby Mezcalito. For everything else – atmosphere, food and drink – there’s Brickhouse.