Back in 2012, when pop-ups were springing up faster than Olympics refuseniks, pop-up Rita’s caused something of a stir with its winning mix of quirky bar food and inventive, alcohol-heavy cocktails. It’s now found a permanent home in a long, thin two-floor space on Mare Street between a launderette and one of Hackney’s ubiquitous fried chicken shops, and has wisely retained the trademarks of its first outing; friendly, un-attitudey staff serving an odd but appealing international cuisine mix that takes in spiced noodles with pig’s head ham, fried cheese, meatloaf with onions, and crispy roast duck. There’s a partyish feel to sharing such unusual combos, and some impressive cooking: notably in Rita’s signature fried chicken; in a dense, deep fish stew; and in a starter of ox tongue with a black bean puree.
A couple of party poopers – soggy pepper squid and hot soy ginger hot wings, both slathered in gloopy sauce that bore few traces of heat, ginger or pepper – tried to spoil the fun on our visit, but were shouted down by elements zinging on the plate and a quirky feel carried through to drinks like a Frozen Rita – a tequila Slush Puppy with hibisucus and lime – served in a paper cup, and prosecco served in an old-skool tumbler. Rita’s has clearly found its proper place; the night after our visit a friend Instagrammed a pic of her dulce de leche beignets with foie gras, which sum up Rita’s: it shouldn’t work, but it does.
175 Mare St
|Opening hours:||Meals served 6-11pm Tues; noon-2.45pm, 6-10.45pm Mon-Fri; 11am-3.45pm, 6-10.45pm Sat; 11am-4.45pm Sun.|
|Transport:||Tube: London Fields rail ; Bus: 55, 48, 277, 26, 106, D6|
|Price:||Meal for two with drinks and service: around £70.|
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Average User Rating
3.3 / 5
- 5 star:4
- 4 star:2
- 3 star:0
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:3
Mugged & Hungry on Mare Street. When professing to offer an "American style dining experience" It's worth remembering that Americans enjoy. 1. Value for money 2. Generous portions 3. Down to earth friendly service & 4. Tasty food. Only ONE of the above were evident during my visit.
Fun and friendly with a Southern take on good old British breakfast and more exotic fare for lunch and dinner.
Best restaurant in London! Have been a few times and always have a great meal. Specials are always different and compliment the main menu. Good atmosphere too.
My favourite neighbourhood restaurant.
Love the inventive drinks menu, with a myriad of margarita's to try. The Watermelon and Hibiscus rita's are my favourite's so far.
Attentive but never annoying staff.
I come here just for the chilli mac and cheese, it's that good and heals any wounds of a heavy night before. Though I have learnt to make a version at home,it's never quite as good as the real thing!
My carnivore friends can't get enough of the patty melt and their soy chicken wings too.
Half the staff were rude. Had a few cocktails here. Drinks were nice but took 20-30 minutes for them to be made. Interacted with four members of staff, two of which gave me a hard time over trivial matters:
1. When putting a small empty folded up plastic cup from my pocket into a rubbish bin to the side of their bar I was told "you can't bring drinks from other establishments into our bar", I explained politely the cup was rubbish from a barbecue I attended hours ago prior to entering their establishment and since then I had been keeping the empty cup in my pocket until I came across a bin, the member of staff then shook her head theatrically at me.
2. When I was about to leave via an open side door an aggressive chef shouted at me two times "You can't use that door!". I stopped and said politely I would like to leave may I please use this door and he said "no" in a sharp uptight tone of voice, realising it must be an unmarked staff door I turned around without a fuss and walked through the restaurant to leave by the front door.
A polite member of staff would have said something like this instead: "excuse me sir, that door is for staff only, would you mind using the front door?".
Went to Rita's for lunch. The food was tasty, but portions are tiny and SO overpriced. Don't go if you are hungry!