La Bodega Negra (restaurant)

Restaurants, Mexican Soho
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(70user reviews)
156 Love It
Save it
La Bodega Negra (Michael Franke / Time Out)
1/5
Michael Franke / Time Out
La Bodega Negra (Michael Franke / Time Out)
2/5
Michael Franke / Time Out
La Bodega Negra (Michael Franke / Time Out)
3/5
Michael Franke / Time Out
La Bodega Negra (Michael Franke / Time Out)
4/5
Michael Franke / Time Out
La Bodega Negra (Scott Wishart / Time Out)
5/5
Scott Wishart / Time Out

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.

 

By: Tania Ballantine

Posted:

Venue name: La Bodega Negra (restaurant)
Contact:
Address: 9 Old Compton Street
London
W1D 5JF
Opening hours: Open Mon-Sat 6pm-1am; Sun 6pm-MIdnight
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square tube
Price: Main courses £11.50-£27.50. Meal for two with drinks and service: around £65
Do you own this business?
To improve this listing email: feedback@timeout.com

Average User Rating

2.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:13
  • 4 star:18
  • 3 star:8
  • 2 star:12
  • 1 star:19
LiveReviews|70
2 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!

Angelaymlau

Honestly nothing special - totally forgettable and really blink and you miss it despite the location.

MillieMollyMoo
Tastemaker

I was really looking forward to going to La Bodega Negra and I was a bit disappointed if I am honest. The menu was limited and also very pricey (to be expected) but I didn't feel like the food reflected the price. I am not a fan of coriander,which ended up a bit of a problem being that it was in the most dishes. I did tell the waiter and he asked me how much I didn't like it,I explained I didn't mind it mixed in the food but I don't like it if the taste is dominated by it. He gave me my salad that came with my main and it was bursting with the stuff. I didn't complain because I just wanted a nice dinner with my man. I had already dent back a cocktail that came with a huge slice of chilli in it- that wasn't mentioned on the menu. I like chilli but not in my drinks,so i did have to send that back. I did enjoy the sex shop entrance and the surroundings. Aside from that cocktail,the others I had were very nice. The food was nice, I am a fan of Mexican food. I posh Wahaca,if you will. I can't say i would visit again,at those prices I can go and try the menu of another posh Mexican,it was all a bit limited and coriander filled for my liking

Annabel-Zoe
Tastemaker

Whenever I’m in the States, I’m always keen to visit as many speakeasies as possible. So finding a bar in London with a blind pig feel always excites me and La Bodega Negra does exactly that! Beneath a sex shop front is a hacienda style cellar restaurant/ bar with a huge variety of tequilas to accompany their Mexican menu! I’ve been for dinner with friends in the restaurant and we tried a selection of their soft shell tacos to start, including braised beef, lamb and soft shell crab, which were all well dressed in salsas and cremas. The ribs main I tried was tasty, but less impressive than the tacos as it was quite simply assembled and lacked a bit of greenery. My friend’s pork belly dish looked like a better order, served with salsa arbol and beans. I really love the hidden, secret vibe of this place and recently took a friend for drinks straight after work on a Friday. Service was great and we sank a jug of their house margarita, which I would definitely recommend over their flavoured ones, which were rather sweet! Great place and will return! It is a bit pricey, but no more than you would expect in a Soho restaurant. 

Kieran S

Was really excited to visit La Bodega Negra as one of the best things about living in London is the food! I visit quite a lot of good restaurants due to the nature of my job, but never taken the time to leave a review. But had to share my experience from last night.


I was there for a friends 30th, there was 5 of us. We asked for 5 margaritas to which the hip barman emphasized that it would be cheaper to get a jug. So we thought why not. When we poured the drinks out, it only filled 3 and a half cups. The 3 that were filled were barely filled to the top. So we went back and explained we had asked for 5 drinks and he suggested to do this instead. He then explained, that we ''had poured it wrong''. I was in disbelief at this. All we wanted was 5 drinks. We arent rich people, but not short of a quid so saving £15-£20 wasnt really a concern, we just wanted 5 drinks. The jug was £44 and 5 drinks was £60. He then said, ok I will make you another 2 drinks. And charged us another £20, so the total was now £64. He didnt really get the fact, that all we originally asked for was 5 drinks!!!! Ive never had just an issue getting drinks anywhere! He said it was measured out at 5 drinks, but I said but it didnt give us 5 drinks. He became quite annoyed and said he ''was trying to be helpful'' and then said ''I wish I hadnt now''. 

We spoke to the manager who then bought us over 2 free drinks, but to be honest the first experience of the place left a sour taste in my mouth. Our bill came to about £420, and for what it was I think it as a bit over the top. The waiter didn't explain the menu to us and just assumed we knew it was sharing. (which we did, but its quite nice when you're taken through the menu of a new place) The guacamole was fizzy which means it was old, and the tacos and tostatas were very plain. The crab one was quite tasty. The lamb main for 2 was delicious and the stand out dish of the night. If the rest of the food was up to the quality of that, an arrogant barman probably would of been forgotten quite quickly.

I will not be returning to this place and wouldn't recommend it to people. There are far better food experiences in London to be had.

Vanessa L

Went there for drinks with friends. Ordered 4 drinks then wanted to ask another one, cause my friend was still choosing.

Hispanic bartender decided to ignore me or just didn't pay much attention. After waiting for 10 to 12 minutes, bartender asks several people (2 parties of 3) and me what we wanted to drink. All other 2 parties got served and my drink was still there waiting turning into water for about 6 minutes, since then both of the groups decided to ask for more drinks and were having difficulties on paying with card. 


Meanwhile a bald bartender came and asked what I wanted cause saw me there waiting for ages...

When he was about to give me the drink all of a sudden our bartender just wakes up from staring into nothing (and this is not a joke), he forgot about us. Apparently said I made her a drink (which was sitting for about 10 minutes now).  He came and talked to me and I told him I've waited too long I wasn't even sure he was doing my drink and that the drink has been sitting there for about 8 to 10 minutes and is now turned to water... And I was being served by the other bartender.


This guy told him something and in a really "agressive" way he looked at me and just threw the new drink in the trash and floor and turned his back. Meanwhile hispanic bartender just stood there and watched and I was wandering, are we even gonna get served in this bar? Since the hispanic guy sorta turned his back and then stood there for a couple of seconds thinking...  (meanwhile my friend just trying to calme down).

Then when my friend said just give me the drink he said  10.50 or something. My friend said the menu says 9.50. He took some seconds to think and said "1 pound for service charge"


Is this a joke? When I paid on card it was optional....



After all of this "show" as I was stone cold sober  and being treated like s***. I just decided to look for the manager, which in this case I think it was the supervisor. I talked to him explained the situation, he apologised a lot and said there was no excuse. Then offered free shots and asked if we had a table.


Although the supervisor was super nice, he couldn't save my night. 



The attitude of that bartender was beyond rude. If he came and talked to me so I could explain him the situation and why I ordered him a drink while my drink was just sitting there for 10 minutes, then maybe he would understand. He just decided to shove it in the trash.


Customer Service is a big part on any establishment, and although the supervisor was super nice and did everything to  amend the situation I will never forget those bartenders, specially the bald one.

So won't go back there, ever.

L-J
tastemaker

What a cheeky place this is, if you enjoy making your date blush or just a little bit naughty this is the place for you,

fabulously located in the heart of Soho La Bodega Negra embrasses it's roots and has a wonderfully promiscuous facia of neon signs, offering live nudes and a peep show, what more could you want for an authentic soho experience?!


The atmosphere is electric as you descend below street level, past the lines of topless magazines in the reception, engulfed in red neon light. You enter a candle lit restaurant and bar designed within exposed brick work arches, sumptuous cushions and decor. We were greeted by warm and friendly Italian staff who showed us to our table, it was early in the evening on a Thursday we had not booked but they keep a few tables for walk ins, the place was already teaming with a fun and relaxed atmosphere, a well dressed trendy collective of boys and girls warming up for an evening of adventure and debauchery in the heart of the west end. 


We drank margaritas and shared tacos, served in a fantastic long wooden tray ideal for all your tacos needs. 

Fairly priced for Soho and great fun highly recommend. 

Robyn89

From the outside we thought at first have we got the right address? As we were greeted by a friendly staff member we were assured we were in the right place. The decor was fantastic and was very authentic. The porn-star martinis were amazing and the soft shell crab tacos are a must! I would definitely recommend La Bodega Negra to everyone who is looking for a quirky, fun restaurant in the heart of Soho!

Kate B

I LOVE this place... The Atmosphere is always buzzing and Staff are always lovely lunchtime or evening. Its great for a quick evening bite in a place that is never dull. Best to sit at the bar and watch the food come out if you dont know what to have. Nice wine selection to boot. If you Love Mexican definitely try this,. and especially for the lunchtime deals. Whilst it is still a chain this one is just always consistently good.

Dimi
moderator

I really enjoyed this place (slightly biased due to my obsession with Mexican food.). Food was great, service was very warm and courteous. It is quite trendy (great location also).


if you feel for a cocktail/cervesa and a bite, definitely a great choice. 

Bonnie W
Tastemaker

I stopped in here for a cocktail recently after walking past many times and thinking it looked good but sadly I as very disappointed with La Bodega Negra. We were sat at the bar and could watch what was being put in the cocktails. Very little alcohol was actually put into them - well under one ounce - and at £9 per cocktail that's hugely overpriced. I ordered the Koko Negra which was supposed to be a sort of coconut and lemon margarita. The cocktail was so salty I couldn't drink it and when I asked the bar tender if that's what it was supposed to taste like he confirmed it was. There were only two toilets for the whole restaurant which had queues the whole time we were there and the music was too loud to talk over. There are much better places to go for Mexican food and a margarita in soho - namely Benito's Hat, which is also much cheaper.

Alex H
Tastemaker

We went here on a week night after a few recommendations. Amazingly compared to so many other places there was no queue! We were seated immediately at the bar. 

The waitress was really helpful, she offered nachos while we waited suggesting there would be a long wait. However our food arrived very quickly. We ordered Pork taco which were delicious and very fresh and a steak fajitas to share.

I thought the food was excellent and well priced. Definitely recommend.

Paul C
Staff Writer

Nice little spot in Soho, recently went for an early dinner and it was spot on! The tuna tostada was so good... sometimes Mexican food can feel a bit heavy with the cheese/cream/guac etc. but this was nice, delicate and fresh. Will definitely be going back at some point!

Samantha H
Tastemaker

There is currently a 50% off food offer on from Sunday-Wednesday if you are seated by 7pm and mention the word 'Frida' when booking.  The food is mixed, some things we loved (Quesadilla Rustica & Beef Fillet Tiradito especially), some items were good but not great (Lamb, beef and mushroom tacos) and some were just plain odd (Watermelon and Queso Fresca - did not work at all!!!).  The service was attentive, quick and we never felt rushed off the table. Were out comfortably within the 2 hour sitting I was told that we had. Cocktails were strong but delicious, a little on the small side but really that is a standard for London now! The 50% offer really made it quite a reasonable dinner! 

k-chis

We ate in the upstairs daytime restaurant a few weeks ago which has a different vibe to the evening downstairs area but is definitely still worth a visit. The food was tasty and is served pretty quickly. We asked for a recommendation from the waitress and she was really helpful. Being able to order the selection of tacos is really good! We tried a few of the cocktails from the menu which were all delicious and then went rogue and started ordering espresso martinis - best espresso martini I have had in ages!! 

Alizée
tastemaker

So surprinsing to enter to a mexican restaurant and bar by a sex shop! The place is always full, it's better to book in order to be sure to have a table. At the bar, cocktails are really nice, especially the one with watermelon. The music is loud and great. Into the restaurant part, you will eat mexican specialties such as tacos or quesadillas. Plates are small. The better is to order a lot of different dishes and share with friends.

Alex B

I'd been wanting to go here for absolutely ages so was really pleased to finally go. I went with my sister so we decided to order from the set lunch menu and share everything. We tried the burrito and tacos both of which were very nice but the table next to us who had ordered from the wider menu definitely looked like they had made a better selection. We went at lunchtime but I think the evening tends to have a better atmosphere. Would definitely go back but would order slightly differently and go in the evening!

Russ C

Whenever I have been there for lunch, the food has always left me wanting more. It's fresh and tasty and unique however the portion sizes can be quite small so be prepared to order lots of variety and share. Service could have been a little sharper considering there were only 3 or 4 tables in that day.

ELI
Staff Writer

I went here recently with a group of friends and we ordered a lot of tacos and margaritas. Quality of food is excellent. It gets really busy and is difficult to just walk in - though we'd booked same day and got an early sitting but had to be out by 9pm. But it proved a great option for an early dinner followed by drinks in the bar area.

MissLDN
Tastemaker

Love this place and I really enjoy taking friend there and see their reaction, once we are about to enter a "sex shop". I'd rather go for a drink (the cocktails are great) and a snack, than a proper meal, but it is a great way to start a night out.

Luckily we arrived early to secure a table in the bar area (you have to book if you want spend more time or have dinner), as the place filled up quickly. But it never felt overcrowded or uncomfortable.

It's worth going - especially if you want to play a lil prank on you friends ;)

Richard N
Tastemaker

The nachos were really addictive; couldn't put them down once we started. Tried one of each of their tacos and was not disappointed. Left me satisfied and wanting to come back again next time. Quality Mexican food. 

Puking Pastille

Really cool space, not very friendly service. We went for my birthday meal last night thinking we'd just try a couple of dishes as we weren't that hungry and it's really pricey, and were immediately made to feel unwelcome by our waiter who is obviously used to customers spending a fortune. He didn't smile at us once, was visibly annoyed that we didn't order more and seemed quite pleased to have his precious table back (even though it was 7pm and the restaurant wasn't full). The food we did try was lovely (though £5.50 for a small pot of guacamole and six chips is crazy), but the service really let it down and means we won't be going back. Great if you're pushing the boat out, but if you just want a light bite, don't bother.

Alanna S
Tastemaker

Love this place. Perfect to go with a group of pals, grab some quality Mexican street food (recommend the taco train) and make your way through the Margaritas. 

Sarah G
Tastemaker

To carry on our evening we tripped out of House of Ho when we were turned off our table and into La Bodega Negra. It's got a great atmosphere and we got seats at the bar. Service was friendly and efficient - cocktail list is slightly limited and v tequila based, but the bar man was v accommodating in switching ingredients.

Tiago Almeida
Tastemaker

This restaurant has quickly moved up to one of my favorite in London.

Great food but I think the atmosphere is the main attraction.


Really really really good, you'll feel Mexican for a couple of hours ;)

R H
Staff Writer

I always enjoy coming here for dinner, the whole experience is really fun from the moment you enter through the sex shop façade and are greeted by a fabulous host, to the incredible décor inside the restaurant which changes every few weeks. The service has always been exceptional, they do that thing of making you feel like a really important guest with them which feels a little disconcerting but amazing at the same time. The food is always fresh and flavourful, I am a fan of the tuna ceviche. Cocktails are a bit daunting as the list is extensive but the servers are happy to take you through them and make recommendations. Its on the pricey side especially as you get all wrapped up with their recommendations and suddenly you just have to have their guac and chips, three different appetisers and of course the churros with chilli chocolate dipping sauce. However, for a treat its definitely worth it.

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.

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!!

Will

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!

Kate

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.

Anna

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'...as 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.

Shak

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

Tanja

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

David

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!

KL

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.

Jj

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!

KC

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.

Paul

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.

Kh

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.

Paul

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 !

sam

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

Richard

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.

Morgy

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.

Ruth

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.

Dan

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?

Ghid

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

Aimee

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.

Show More