I lived in America for several years, so grew up learning to love Mexican food. This place is really good! The decor and staff uniforms may look a little bit over the top, but it all adds to a fun atmosphere, and makes the place feel vibrant.
The other Mexican restaurants in the area all look quite modern, and from outside, this makes them seem a bit cold and impersonal.
I had the chimichanga as a main course, and was a bit surprised that this comprised of 3 smaller wraps, rather than one large one, but they were still very tasty, served with delicious salad, rice, and some sort of pepper and bean stew.
They have a good selection of South American beers, so I tried a couple of these to wash the meal down.
I'd definitely recommend this place to anyone who likes Mexican!
Went for dinner here with my sister. The place was very busy however we were seated straight away.
The food was not good at all, I ordered the ribs and my sister ordered two sides and she was not really hungry. She ordered fried squid and nachos both where horrible very bad quality.
For the drinks we ordered a pitcher I can't remember what we got but at the time I remember thinking this does not taste like it's ment to.
The waiters don't really have a clue what they are doing different waiters would come up and ask to take our order I think we were asked 3 times and each time we had to repeat we have already placed an order.
When the bill came it was incorrect and they added a service charge??? :s
Will not be going back!!
Okay, so it's a tough shot to go from four stars to one, especially as I've been to Desperados several times in the six months since I wrote my review. But I've just returned from the latest experience, and have no intention of going back, and want to share why.
The majority of my meal was much as I've experienced at Desperados: decent food, decent service, a fun atmosphere. Several times over the course of the meal, I had to ask for things twice... water, the bill, etc. Nothing major, but enough that I was a bit annoyed when the bill came. I requested to pay 75p under the total, assuming that the service charge was, like at every other restaurant I've ever been to in London, optional. Apparently it's not at Desperados, as the manager pointed to the fine print on the back of the menu stating that there's an automatic, non-optional 10% service charge on all orders.
'Scuse me? If you need to make me pay the service charge, that means you know there's something wrong with the service.
The whole attitude that the manager had toward the issue was what I really found appalling: to me, if a customer wants to "under pay" (I use that phrase lightly, as you can't make me pay full price if I don't want to...), my first question is why? What was unsatisfactory? What can I do to help?
So here, instead of hating with no constructive component, I'm going to hope that Desperados follows their yelp page, and give three pieces of advice, in the order I'd suggest you re-train your managers to follow. Before I start though, the biggest piece of advice: NEVER make the customer pay the service charge. If there's a problem, find a solution, but if they customer has decided to under-pay, MAKING them pay is the final nail in the coffin of your business.
But to business. When the customer says they don't want to pay the service charge, and after you've asked and heard what went wrong:
1. Offer something. A drink, a dessert, something. Keep them in the restaurant. Comp them something up to £10 if you have to... because it's better to spend £10 and ensure they come back again than earn 75p and lose any future business.
2. If they don't want to be comped, write them a voucher for next time. A free drink, a free dessert. Same story as #1.
3. If they refuse, and say they'll never be back, drop it. Ask them exactly what change they want, and don't ask another question. Let them get out, because they're not going to be good for your business anymore.
The secret is to do it in this order. Mind you, I don't run a restaurant, and I've only worked direct customer service for a year. But, in the age of Yelp, you never know what restaurant critic is walking in the door, you know? Better to be safe than sorry.
The only reason I'm giving it more than one star is because the meat, when cooked as we ordered, was very tasty and tender,
Sloppy service did not improve the general feeling that this place neglects its clients, only thinking about who's coming next.
You really do have to be a "desperado" if you end up eating here in Angel. Now this street is littered and I mean littered with fabulous eating spots, so why oh why am I eating here?!
Well, I love terrible Mexican food, it can be Turk-mex, Doritos with Philadelphia on them, Cuban food masquerading as a Mexican dish... You name it I love it. I don't however love it here! I mean I wasn't expecting to be blown away but seriously, food this disappointing and with a £25 price tag per head, not what I would expect. We were unlucky, the place was not really that busy but the sat us by the door, that was weird to start with. The service was super friendly but that doesn't make up for the fact that what I'm eating is shit.
Wow, that was harsh and I meant it, that felt good!
Don't come here for the food or the strange cocktails, come here with friends and get so drunk that you don't notice the assault on your taste buds and your wallet.
I am going to be laughed out of Yelp by the Americans for going to this place. My friend and I were discussing where to eat and ducked under Desperados' canopy out of the rain. Laziness prevailed and we just went in there.
Bwahahahahaha, Mexican indeed. Nah this is Tex Mex, 'London ain't got no good Mexican food' all the way.
We ordered nachos and they were bad, so cheap on the sour cream and when we asked for a bit more, she charged us £1.50 for a small container. Bloody hell. I mean nachos are not hard to make, but these were overly salty with barely any guac and half melted cheese.
My garlic tuna steak was so overcooked that at first I thought I had gotten the swordfish by mistake. Tuna is not meant to be cooked this way, it's not chicken. My friend's veggie burrito hardly looked spectacular. We also ordered a pitcher of cosmopolitans, they were drinkable I suppose, but not very cosmo-ish. Could have been anything in there really.
This Mexican restaurant is one of the most fun loving places I know; it makes me wish I were Mexican!
I came here last while on a date with a rather boring property developer... However to my relief, the staff saved the night, and my spirits rose by their charming and (slightly flirtatious ), personalities.
I ordered just a starter as my main called Gumbas Pil Pil, which was a delicious King Prawn soup sautéed in tomatoes, garlic and hot Spanish pepper.
When I ordered it the Mexican waiter said 'Oh in my country whenever I order we have a Party! So we must have a party now!' I was so happy to have been rescued, and meet another party kindred spirit that I spoke more to him, than my date all evening. Yes I would definitely go back here!
It definitely has that cantina feel to it, probably product of all the decorations, loud music , colours and lack of light. The paraphernalia adds that laid back, let's have tequila shot ind of mood.
It's place to have decent tasting good tex-mex food, to catch up with an old friend and chill out. I really enjoyed my steak fajita salad, quite a good portion for £11, so that is not truly a mexican dish but neither is the restaurant. Even with all the appropriate deco.
I really don't have much to say, just have a look at their cocktail list, they have 45 different ones!
Really, I knew better. "Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?" (youtube.com/watch?v=Jimf…)
You know what though? It served its purpose. I wanted Mexican food and I knew what I was getting into. I knew it was a Mexican Bennigans, a TGIViernes. Don't go here expecting anything other than 2-star food with a side of I-wish-I-hadn't-eaten-ALL-of-that-but-it-was-exactly-what-I-wanted-at-that-given-moment.
The staff was great, very eager and ready to serve, even with a crowded restaurant.
Just one other note: if you're going to have pornography in the toilets you should probably at least make it anatomically, biologically, spiritually and erotically accurate. Mexico!
I'd have to go with Caren H and be on the 'Mexican food snob' side of Desperados' fence.
If I hadn't been to so many great places in San Diego, or even Wahaca closer to home, I might have had a better opinion of this place. However, I ended up feeling like it tries very hard to be authentic and create a Latina vibe, but doesn't quite pull it off. It's like someone has bought a normal restaurant and hired decorators with the instructions, 'Make the lights dim, paint everything pretty colours and we'll buy lots of hats and alcohol.' I could do that.
The menu is good enough to read, with plenty of choice for all - good veggie options as well as a lot of meat choices. The usual burritos, fajitas et al, but in reality it's not done in any special way and there's nothing out of the ordinary. The cocktails were very tasty, but the bill was larger than it might have been and I left feeling I could and have done better elsewhere.
This place is a good choice for a fun night out with girls. The decorations are rather tacky with Mexican sombreros, and other random paraphernalia, Latino music, and lots tequila.
The waiters are quite flirtatious as well, but friendly enough. The food was affordable and good. I had a classic chilli con carne, which was very spicy but very good.
I also love the fact that they sell those sweet Mexican beers with tequila called Desperados, which always remind me of a time when I was younger and this was one of our drinks of choice.
I'm from the US and was craving Mexican when I moved to London and one of the first places recommended in my area was Desperados. It looked the part, smelled decent and had a typical menu but once we started getting our food I realized that this was a very liberal interpretation of what Mexican food really is.
The margarita pitchers we got were weak, to say the least, and tasted like a syrupy mix. Mexican food IS served with beans and rice, and yes, our enchiladas came with beans and rice, but instead of refried beans and Spanish (or cilantro) rice we got baked beans and rice pilaf that seemed about on par as an Uncle Ben's microwave pouch.
For the price you pay, you're much better off going elsewhere. Even if you're just up for meeting friends for drinks on Upper St and someone has a craving for Mex & margs, you're best to take a raincheck and meet at a pub or take a bus into Covent Garden and go to LaPerla.
I texted my Mexican friend when we left and the first thing she said was "Well, were there any Mexicans working there??"
"No, they seemed European"
"Well that's what you get then!"
Indeed, that's what we got. As a lover of Mexican food, I can't recommend this place and sleep at night.
I normally try to avoid places categorized as 'Asian fusion' or 'Tex-Mex' as I have found that restaurants like these often can't decide who they are or what the hell they are serving.
However, I took a liking to Desperados despite all of its Tex-Mex qualities. Although the menu is inconsistent in quality, most of it is good. The last time I was there, my girlfriend and I order a heap of food. It was quite embarrassing to be honestly as we ordered 4 times more than the two guys sitting right next to us. But then again, she and I usually do!
We started off with a large plate of nachos with all of the fixings. I hadn't expected it to be so big, but I welcomed it, anyway. The nachos were one of my favorites of the night as they put everything on it, without skimping in the slightest. We also ordered the BBQ combo, which came with a rack of ribs, coleslaw, porkchops, and chicken wings. Everything was delicious, flavorful, and moist. We cleared this plate. On top of all of this, we had ordered chicken and steak fajitas. This plate was a miss - the steak was flavorful, but the chicken was far too dry. More importantly, they didn't give us enough guac, sourcream, or tomatoes, which instantly turned me off.
Although, the food is normally the most important part of my experience at a restaurant (and usually the factor on which I rate them here on Yelp), I was more focused on the ambiance than anything else. Desperados is fun. It's a fun place for a date and a fun place for friends to get together. The music - much like the crowd- is loud, and it keeps the good vibes flowing. The rather dimly lit restaurant also offers a sense of intimacy even above the music in the background, and this all created the perfect experience.
In summary, I would not go out of my way for another taste of Desperados food, but I predict I will be back for another fun, full, and tipsy night out.
Oh! That reminds me - don't order their house wine. It's disgusting!
Unimpressed, all around with Desperado's. We ended up here because Chilango's up the street was closed for renovations. So we wandered up Upper Street and while I was happy to throw in the towel on our burritos excursion, my dining companion was not. We passed Desperado's, gave it a once over, shrugged and sat down at a table on their small front patio. I noticed that everyone who arrived after us did the exact same thing - seems to me no one who sat down actually deliberately intended to come here. And I can see why...
Service = well-meaning but hapless and spotty - including when my chimichangas arrived three minutes after I ordered them (alone and without my fellow diner's entrée) and the server who took the order argued with me then herself over whether they were actually mine. Very, very awkward.
Drinks = the mid-range margaritas were overpriced and not very good. Pitcher will set you back a painful £18
Food = well. I don't why I didn't flat out refuse to eat here when I saw on the menu "garlic cheese bread" described as a grilled tortilla with melted cheese. Um, just call it what it is, a quesadilla! Wtf?! My veggie chimis (£9.95) were good on the outside (fried nicely in a tortilla) but too wet, too spicy and too sweet on the inside. What I assume was guacamole was a suspicious looking splat on the plate that was the color and texture of hummus. The rice was definitely taken from a pot that had been sitting around for at least a few hours. My friend's fajitas (a whopping £13) arrived sizzling with nice-looking grilled peppers, but the meat was spiced similar to Indian food and the chicken gristle-y (I didn't bother trying the steak pieces).
Price = way, way, WAY overpriced for what you get (and we were charged a service charge of almost £5 ... really?). We spent almost £50 on two abysmal entrees and a pitcher of icky margs. Unbelievable.
Move on, do not sit down, keep walking! If you're craving Mexican, you have TWO other options now - a brand new Chipotle about to open across the street, or my beloved Chilango's.
OK, it makes no claims of authenticity. Which is handy, because there is no attempt either - check out the pornographic Día de los Muertos paintings in the loos if you're unsure. Ideal for birthdays and big (cheap) gatherings.
The nachos are better than expected, the fajitas are acceptable and the BBQ is best avoided. Service is hit and miss but the queues still snake out of the door.
How do I describe the food here? Have you ever eaten those Tex- Mex dinner packs that they sell in the supermarkets? (can't remember the brand name sorry). The ones that also sell Guacamole in a squeezy tub on a shelf along side the boxed dinners, tins of refried beans etc.....(how can this be?!!).
Well, that's how I'd describe the food here....I wonder if they do use the packs....
How do I describe the decor? Cheesy!! VERY cheesy! It would be a very cheesy advertisement for a very cheesy chain restaurant!
So if you like to spend your money on mediocre food in a VERY cheesy Tex-Mex themed restaurant - go for it!
Hrm. What to say. I had hoped that a slightly skeezy-looking Tex Mex dive bar might actually be good food. I really should've read the other Yelp reviews first (I did so while we were waiting for our order...my own fault, really).
++ Jalapeno poppers. They're almost always good anywhere.
- - Salad cream. SALAD CREAM!?!? And bizarre rice with freeze dried vegetables that probably came from Uncle Ben.
++ They gave us a tiny frozen cocktail "on the house" before we left. I think mostly it was because we looked grumpy, slightly confused, and a bit hungry still when we asked for the bill.
My quest for decent Mexican/TexMex in the UK continues...
Had a great time when I went here with my boyfriend. Great place for a casual meal with lovely cocktails on a Friday night.
The food is great and you a lot for your money! The staff are friendly and even though it's usually really busy at the weekends they always make sure you are ok and if you want to order anything else etc.
I recommend the steak or the fahita dishes which come on a sizzling hot plate piled high with chicken and peppers.
Not exactly authentic as many have complained of but it seems to be aiming for Tex Mex not proper Mexican and seems to get it fairly well right. Large portions all sticky bbq sauces and fries. It was alright for what it was and that was a place to go after spending all afternoon in the garden of The Earl of Essex. 2.5 out of 5 for a good value cheap feed after a drunken Sunday in the sun. The paintings on the wall in the toilet are worth a look, as long as you're over 18 of course.
There are some mixed reviews for Desparados and, having eaten there, I can see why. A chicken fajita in a Mexican restaurant should knock the spots off an "Old El Paso" dinner kit, but instead was rather bland (the other dish we ordered, the cajun chicken fillet, was delicious, though!).
On the whole, it's a decent-enough place; the staff are friendly and efficient without being in your face the whole time, and it's very reasonably priced. (And as Rich M points out, the mural in the gents loo is little... fruity)
Our bill came to £50 for two people having a main course, a couple of cocktails and a glass of wine (and that includes a service charge which is automatically added), which isn't bad considering the location. Is it stellar? No. Is it worth trying? Absolutely.
Maybe I am a bit of a Mexican and Tex-Mex food snob, but this place is on the lower end of the scale. Kind of feels like a bad day in Cancun at Carlos and Charlies or Sr. Frogs. Very run of the mill food and the atmosphere is on the cheezy side. The hunt for good Mexican will continue....
This place is funny. The art in the toliets is pretty funny/outrageous (I'll let you see for yourselves..) The food is good! I had the mexican chilli cheeseburger which came with a baked potato...felt like 2 meals (not complaining!!) and then i had the cheesecake of the day..Vanilla..omg...beautiful..highly recommend that for dessert..
I thought this place was decent! I originally came in for a drink and to kill some time as my friends were running well late, but then I figured no harm in trying the enchiladas (my go-to mexican fave). I admit it's not quite authentic, but it was tasty. The staff were nice to me, despite it being a rammed night and me eating alone. I'd return if I was in the area, though I probs wouldn't seek it out particularly :)
Average mexican food. You won't be disappointed, but its nothing to write home about either. I would avoid it on friday or saturday night as its packed. Make sure to check out the cartoon artwork in the toilets.
Finally, some decent Mexican food in London! As an American ex-pat here for 10 years I have been yearning for a good burrito or enchilada. Places I've eaten at seem to get the sauces, cheese, and usually the guacamole all wrong, producing instead some sort of bastardised Brit-Mex combo. Or they proffer a Mexican tapas dish which is tiny, expensive, and not very Mexican. Desperados was just the opposite, with friendly wait staff and nice sized portions.
The calamari starter was crispy and flavourful and easily shareable between 2 people. Vegetable enchilada was really tasty: vegetables not too mushy, sauce tasted freshly made, and it came with a good sized portion of pinto beans.
From looking at the other reviews it seems this place has cleaned up its act. We went on a Friday night and had a very enjoyable experience. I would agree with other reviewers that the table spacing is a bit crammed, but for decent Mexican food it is worth the squeeze.
Disappointing - both in service and food. I hate to pan a place, but when the vegetarian fajitas showed up full of celery and broccoli (as well as a couple of carrots and whatever other unused leftovers the kitchen could find), my wife and I decided that it was time to move on. To the extent that you were looking for a place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I would encourage you to focus primarily on drinks at Desperados... even the chips ended up having a Doritos-esque quality to them (a far cry from justifying a fairly hefty price tag)...
I really enjoyed my visit to this place. We went for a friends birthday so there was a big group of us. We were well accommodated and the staff made sure we had planty of cocktails. It was a saturday night so it was very busy and the food took a while to come but the atmosphere was so much fun and so energetic that we didn't really mind and continued with our cocktails. The food was good when it came, good portion size, nice and fresh and very tasty. My only problem is that it may be a little overpriced, but after huge shots of tequilas who cares?
The staff were friendly to us, they sang happy birthday to my friend and got her to dance in a sombero. I had a very enjoyable evening here.
My husband and I decided to try this resturant as a last mintute decision. WHAT A MISTAKE! The tables were very cramped together taking away privacy. The staff were the worse I've ever experienced, they stood chatting and joking amongst themsleves while a number of tables were trying to attract their attention. I had to ask for my food which was ready but not brought to the table, my Husband was well over halfway through his food by the time my food arrived.
The most unfortunate thing about this resturant is the fact that the food was tasty and the portion size was good, but the closeness of the tables and the service of the staff destroyed the eating experience.
I'm not really sure what people are expecting in Islington, London, from a cheap adn cheerful restaurant with a name such as 'desperados'. But, it's never going to be Wahaca is it? and it's certainly not going to be Masterchef standard. What it IS going to be is cheap and most of all cheerful. We went a bit merry after a couple of cocktails at keston lodge. With it's samba music, sombrero'd waiters and extensive cocktail list it immediately put me in mind of your typical holiday 'strip' kind of a joint. And i have to say the ribs were smotherd in BBQ sauce and the meat was tender and just fell off the bone. The fajitas were sizzling and the chicken was tender (if i wanted to be pedantic i could say the steak was slightly overdone) and my boyfriend's burrito was delicious. I loved the atmosphere, i LOVED the cocktails and i laughed pretty much throughout the meal. but then i didn't expect it to be anything other than what it was. so if you want cheap and most of all cheerful, or if you just want a sliver of cheesy holiday sun and fun on a rainy night, and you aren't too fussed about michelin stars then this is the place for you.
This place is ace,always use it on my stopovers from Phoenix Az. where they really know how to cook Mexican food. This place is good at that and does a great job .I would thoroughly recommend this place to anyone who likes Mexican food.iI think most of the bad reviews here are by people who think El Paso branded food is reall Mexxy food ,err its note.This is as close as you can get to it without being chased by a frontier sheriff.
Not the greatest Mexican food ive ever had but a nice little place if you dont want to brake the bank.
This place is great, I had my birthday at Desperados a couple of years ago, and a love affair began! The servings are generous, there's a wide range of cocktails and the atmosphere is really good fun. The food is your classic tex-mex, everything is tasty and the staff are always keen to make sure you have a good time. I would definitely recommend it.
Pretty standard food but nice atmosphere and not too expensive.
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