SquareMeal Review of
Under new owners, this Tequila bar and taqueria is a vast improvement on its predecessor, La Isla Bonita. Cartel is a desperado hole-up straight out of a 1960s spaghetti western, complete with basic decor cobbled together from builder’s yard woods and sheet metals. Fortunately, the Good outweighs the Bad and the Ugly here: witness a Negroni where Patrón XO Tequila replaces gin; and a Treacle (the late Dick Bradsell’s London classic) that substitutes Patrón Anejo for the original’s rum. Mezcal ideas include El Chapo, a Sour that also uses Calvados, grenadine and peppercorn syrup. Food is freshly made in-house; try the light, crisp, gluten-free tacos with flavoursome fillings such as pan-fried duck breast with fig jam and pomegranate; plantain and butternut squash with a pumpkin-seed salsa; and chilli king prawns with slaw and piquant mayo. Otherwise, order wings or quesadillas, sold at little more than street-food van prices.