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It’s been a long time since I shared any reviews of Mexican dishes here – which is ironic, considering the vast majority of the food we cook at home is influenced by vegan-friendly cookbook Thug Kitchen (AKA THE BIBLE), which is bursting with fiesta flavours. In fact, the last feature was so long ago that I still ate chicken and had long hair! Yikes!
I figured it was high time we remedied that so, when citzenMag got in touch and asked me to check out city centre restaurant Topolabamba and report back to you guys, my mission to find kickass vegetarian eats with a Mexican influence in Glasgow was officially back on.
Gary and I visited Topolabamba on a Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, and despite this, it didn’t even occur to me to call ahead and book a table (maybe my brain was already in holiday mode?!). When we got there the restaurant was busy, but thanks to a very efficient buzzer system, we weren’t waiting too long (I’d say 5 minutes tops!) for a table to open up.
Topolabamba are known for their authentic Mexican street food and cocktails, and opened up on on St Vincent Street (one of the busiest streets for Glasgow foodies) in July 2014. The restaurant pride themselves on making everything fresh, and offer small plates as well as more filling options. Sharing with friends is encouraged, and the environment is very relaxed. Other than the odd burrito bar and fast food outlet, Topolabamba are one of the only places in the city centre offering Mexican cuisine, and they have quickly become a favourite with many visitors and locals looking for their fix of tortas and tequila.
One of the most striking things about Topolabamba is the bright and fun interior of the restaurant. With cacti, candles and colour pops filling the space, it feels like the kind of place you could party or get comfy in, depending on your mood. As the restaurant and bar are open until 11pm (and midnight on weekends), there’s plenty of time to do both!
The menu is pretty extensive, with lunchtime express deals making it a handy spot for any office workers to pop in on their break. There are plenty of vegetarian and gluten free dishes, so we decided to pick out a few small plates of street food each. The range of dishes and vivid decor reminded me a little of Wahaca, which I visited twice on my last visit to London (what can I say, this gal loves her guacamole!) but with a more independent, local feel. I love the fact that Topolabamba also have their own taco happy hour, which is at 4pm Monday-Friday – much more appealing to me than the usual kind of bar happy hour…
Before long, we had all of our small plates ready to try! The crispy corn tacos were filled with freshly roasted vegetables and topped with cool cream. These were a hit with both of us, and weren’t too spicy but had a nice flavour to them. We also tried the guacamole tostadas, which were filled with a mixture of corn and black beans – this was something very similar to what we would make at home, except these were topped with a sharp, crumbly white cheese (feta, maybe?!) which I will definitely try adding to my next kitchen attempt!
The chilli taquito was a little bit too hot for me (I know, I’m a wimp!) but I liked how crunchy the texture of the tortilla was and Gary really enjoyed eating most of that plate.
It turned out that the humble cactus wasn’t just part of the decor, it was an ingredient too! I therefore couldn’t resist ordering the cactus quesadilla, which probably turned out to be my favourite dish. I’m not a huge fan of green peppers, but luckily the cactus didn’t taste at all like them, in fact it was more like a sweeter, juicier version of a green bean! It went really well in a quesadilla and I would definitely recommend it!
We kept our sides pretty simple, and ordered salt and chilli fries with some pico di gallo and guacamole (of course!) for dipping. Seeing as the guacamole comes with plenty of tortilla chips anyway, I’d skip the fries next time.
We ended our meal on a sweet note, and even though my eyes said “churros”, my belly was telling me there wasn’t a chance (definitely skipping those fries next time!) so I kept things light with the mango sorbet. This was really refreshing and made me wonder why I don’t order sorbet more often! Gary had the chocolate chilli ice cream, which was rich and dark with a slightly spiced flavour.
Even though it was a busy Bank Holiday, we really enjoyed our visit to Topolabamba and felt relaxed and well fed by the end of our Mexican feast! I’d like to come back and see how it measures up as part of a night out when I’m wearing something suitably bright and frilly, and you better believe I’ll be there for taco happy hour soon…
Have you ever visited Topolabamba? And can you resist the lure of churros?
This post was created in collaboration with citizenMag, but all my opinions are as always, honest