Los Locos is a place where nobody is ugly after 2 AM
Before the conquistadors showed up in Mexico, the favoured drink was pulque, a fermented beverage made from agave. This drink, the precursor to tequila, has a sour taste and its texture is actually quite reminiscent of phlegm. Needless to say, most Europeans weren't too pleased with it.
Thanks to a brief period of German rule under the Emperor Maximilian in the 19th century, beer gained a strong foothold. The emperor, who often travelled with a retinue of brewmasters, helped to establish several breweries that still exist today. In addition, the brief period of pre-War Prohibition in the US sent thousands south of the border. Thanks to these influences, a number of excellent beers are still produced in the country.
Corona is by far the most popular exported beer but like Fosters in Australia, it's not drunk that much in Mexico. Popular beers there include Tecate, an excellent lager named after the city in Baja where it was first brewed, and Dos Equis. Dos Equis comes in two varieties: Especial, a pale lager that's nicely light and goes well with food, and Amber, a Vienna style lager excellent by itself.
Los Locos, a restaurant/club in Covent Garden, is an interesting case. More famous for its nightlife than for its food, the place is still a popular place to go for a quick, lively dinner before a long night of clubbing. During the early hours of the evening, half a dozen tables cover the dance floor. Even with this addition, the restaurant is tiny: be prepared for a loud, sometimes raucous meal. People looking for a quiet, formal dinner shouldn't even step through the door.
That said, it's a lot of fun. The drinks are reasonable, with a potent house margarita running somewhere around 6 pounds. Unless you want to pace yourself, don't get it over crushed ice: frozen margaritas didn't exist in Mexico until Americans took over Tijuana. Most of the other cocktails on the drink list are uninspiring. There are a lot of saccharine concoctions that are more syrup than anything. Avoid the Salsa Club Iced Tea at all costs, for it tastes like Red Bull with a boozy aftertaste. As always, standbys like the Long Island still work.
Of course, with the preamble about beer, why would you want to drink anything else? Beer is available by the bucket for a small discount. The bar takes up an entire wall of the restaurant and has prompt service as well as nightly specials on drinks.
As far as food goes, don't get too excited. The best things about Los Locos are the portions: don't expect to come away from the table without getting full. The salsa is incredibly mild and tastes like it just left a can. More satisfying are the chicken nachos. Calling these nachos Mexican would be a mistake, but calling them tasty would be an understatement.
There's no reason to get anything other than the fajitas. These are the stars of the menu; the chicken are pretty good, but the tiger prawns are amazing. Served on a blazing-hot cast iron skillet, the fajitas stay hot forever. At Los Locos, that's a good thing. One of the most agreeable things about Mexican food is that it goes perfectly with alcohol, especially since it's often spicy. Combined with a lively atmosphere like Los Locos, the circle is complete: eating the food makes you thirsty, drinking makes you want to talk, talking makes your friends want to shut you up with another fajita. Perfect.
Later on, the food is taken away and the place converts into a nightclub. It's a pretty standard club, all told, but the drink specials continue and can make up for whatever the place lacks otherwise. The average meal for two people, without a crazy bar tab, will cost about UKP40-50.
- Nicholas Carter