Sombreros. Day of the Dead skulls. A live mariachi band. All typical exponents of Mexican culture you won’t find at this split-level hacienda of good times (light-up neon donkeys, on the other hand, are another matter).
Not surprisingly, mezcal and tequila are El Publico’s Bella Twins with the bar’s 60-something bottle selection covering everything from single village Del Magueys to rare bottles of extra añejo tequila. As tradition demands, sipping spirits are served with a piquant house-made sangrita, El Publico’s version being a sweet ‘n’ spicy combo of pomegranate, citrus, tomato juice and head chef Sam Ward’s fiery hot sauce. It’s as delicious as it sounds and an attraction in itself.
Not quite ready to drop a C-note on a pour of Partida Elegante? There’s just as much enjoyment to be had on the cocktail side of the ledger. House grapefruit soda with Espolon blanco proves the ages-old paloma still has merit while the delicious Jefe Grande combines smoky Ilegal Mezcal with the zip of lemon juice, grapefruit bitters and Lillet Blanc.
Not that tequila only plays well with citrus: a whisper of Fernet Branca lends a distinctly choc-mint character to Uncle Ron’s reposado- and Zacapa-powered Mexican Milkshake.
While El Publico’s full menu is available seven nights for dinner and for weekend lunches, a small selection is available for afternoon and late-night snacking. We dig the pequeño blue cocottes filled with crisp-fried school prawns and the tesajo tacos, house-made tortillas cradling thin slices of grilled beef, chilli and peanut.