Thursday, October 26, 2017

Los Lobos: Modern Mexican Cuisine in London

Los Lobos, which fittingly means 'the wolves' in Spanish, features everything foodies have come to expect from the rock n' roll loving restaurateurs: vibrant décor, hip music, stellar cocktails and authentic food that looks as good as it tastes. "It's about the whole package", says Justin Wolfe. "We pay a lot of attention to the atmosphere because that's the first thing people see when you walk in. People start having conversations right off the bat. And if your service, food and cocktails deliver, you have that winning combination." And it's a formula that has gained the Wolfe brothers more than just a taste of success. It's the third restaurant Gregg and Justin Wolfe have opened in the last five years, with the Wolfe of Wortley recently named to Air Canada’s 2017 list of the top 30 best new restaurants in the country. London natives, Justin toured the world as the singer for a heavy-metal band, Thine Eyes Bleed, before becoming a chef, and Gregg spent time in Toronto managing bands and booking acts for a Queen Street bar, before opening their first restaurant in 2009, these indie operators are now building a food empire one epic restaurant at time.

Offering a unique menu of modern Mexican-inspired cuisine and craftsman cocktails, Los Lobos tacos are rooted in tradition but topped with creative combinations of salsa, aioli, pickled vegetables and hot sauces, such as the savoury pork belly taco finished with lime sour cream, radish and jalapeño; crunchy battered cod taco with chipotle aioli, cabbage, pickled red onion and cilantro; and pork carnita taco with pineapple pico, cilantro, sour cream and chicharron. Priced at just $5 each, we sampled five of the ten tacos featured on the menu, beginning with killer Cucumber-Cilantro Margaritas and an array of platos pequeno, or small plates, including traditional Guacamole served with chef Kyle Rose's homemade tortilla chips, luscious and cheesy Queso Fundido with chorizo, grilled corn Esquites with chile spice, mayonnaise and lime, and Bay Scallop Ceviche with pickled red onion, radish, cilantro, lime and habanero. Everything the Wolfe's create is highly visual. Their meals are colourful, delicious and beautifully plated. The decor is vibrant, unique and instagram-worthy. Its no wonder that in an era of smart phones and social media hashtags the buzz surrounding the 'Wolfe Pack' restaurant empire keeps building. They credit much of their success to word of mouth marketing. Arriving for lunch at Los Lobos while visiting friends in London this past weekend, we had a fabulous time and can't wait to return over and over again.

Arriving at Los Lobos for the Wolfe brothers modern Mexican menu of tacos and killer margaritas

The funky interior with a gothic Dia de Muertos — Day of the Dead — theme was designed by Stu Andrenelli, an old friend of the brothers and an Argentinian who runs an arts co-op in Toronto

Everything the Wolfe's create is highly visual, unique and instagram-worthy

Decorative hanging Edison bulb lighting at Los Lobos

Los Lobos menu of Modern Mexican dishes

Cucumber and Cilantro Margarita

Traditional guacamole served with tortilla chips

Queso Fundido with Chorizo

Esquites: Grilled Corn with chile spice, mayonnaise and lime

Bay Scallop Ceviche with pickled red onion, radish, cilantro, lime and habanero

Pork Carnita Taco with pineapple pico, cilantro, sour cream and chicarron

Battered Cod Taco with chipotle aioli, cabbage, pickled red onion and cilantro

Cauliflower Taco with queso, onion, tomato and scallions

Bay Scallop Taco with green salsa, pickled cabbage, corn and cilantro 

Pork Belly Taco with lime sour cream, radish and jalapeño

Holiday Spirits
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Gregg Wolfe

3 oz Tanqueray Gin
3 oz Sloe Gin
2 oz Grand Marnier
2 oz Aperol 
12 dashes Angostura bitters
1 orange, peeled fror garnish

Stir on ice, strain and pour into 4 Old Fashioned glasses with a large ice cube in each glass. Cut 4 pieces of orange peel, light a match and fold the peels in half, spraying the orange oil over the flame — the oil will ignite and fall over the cocktail.

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