‘The trouble with some London taquerias,’ explained our waiter, ‘is that portions can be a bit small. We try to be generous.’ That’s Corazon for you. An honest, unassuming spot at the unsexy end of Poland Street, it offers hospitality in the old-school sense, sending you off into the cold night air with that warm feeling of having been well looked after, with both belly and soul full and with your wallet refreshingly unviolated.
The look is ‘cosy first restaurant’: plain, simple, sincere. Walls are whitewashed and unadorned, the floor a herringbone parquet, tables of the wipe-clean type. The lights were a little bright, sure, but there was a lively, laidback buzz to the place. Relaxed. Happy. In the peach-and-avocado loo, they were playing ‘California Soul’.
And ‘generous’ their tacos are. The ‘baja fish’ option was so replete, you could barely pick it up. Built on a base of all-the-rage ‘blue’ tortilla (more the colour of grey stone-washed denim circa 1990), it was piled high with two kinds of shredded cabbage – bringing sweetness, tang and crunch – plus a deliciously piquant chipotle mayo. On top, the crowning glory: a fat slab of golden beer-battered fish with a meaty, juicy centre. Also excellent was the carne asada: another blue corn tortilla, this time smeared with smooth avocado, then loaded with slivers of pink pickled onion, shredded lettuce and succulent morsels of orange-and-soy-marinated hanger steak.
Away from the tacos, there are a few other don’t-miss, comfort food options. Like the esquites. They make this traditional sweetcorn-and-cheese street food snack by grilling whole cobs of corn, then stripping off the blistered, blackened kernels, adding dry spices, chilli mayo (made with aromatic guajillo chillis), a hit of lime and crumbled cow’s milk cheese. It’s a sweet, smoky, cheesy, moreish mess. For afters, be sure to get the coconut flan: it’s unashamedly syrupy and decadent, just like you’d get in Mexico. It’s even enough to convert the most ardent of coconut-haters (once they’ve recovered from the sugar hit).
There were some low points, though: the too-salty crab on a tostada (the tuna option is better, though in truth, neither is as good as the tacos) and an excessively dry dish of rice and beans. Corazon is by no means perfect. But its benevolent approach to portion sizes, coupled with genial service, is sure to win this humble spot plenty of fans.