Whilst vegan food pop-ups regularly spring up around London, few have proven as popular as Club Mexicana, who have recently opened a permanent restaurant in Soho’s dazzling Kingly Court. The punchy pink graphics, neon signs and preppy pineapples are instantly recognisable as Club Mexicana’s iconic brand image.
The Mexican based vegan eatery gained notoriety at Camden Lock and Dinerama in Shoreditch, before scaling the vegan food scene; taking up a yearlong residency in Dalston, and serving food at London’s first fully vegan pub, The Spread Eagle.
Founder Meriel Armitage talks to us about the business side of things, and journey setting down roots for Club Mexicana in Kingly Court.
Can you tell us about the main inspiration behind your dishes?
My dishes are inspired from my travels around the world, the vibrancy, the flavours, from eating incredible vegan food in Melbourne, California and Central America but mainly of course, Mexico. I’ve always wanted to showcase vegan food in a new light and with Club Mexicana I want to show people that vegan food isn’t all about chickpeas and chia seeds!
What is in your opinion the best way to attract non-vegans to a vegan restaurant?
I wanted to make sure I had a really inclusive restaurant, so we’ve always put a massive amount of work into getting the flavour and texture of the ingredients we use just right. It’s the best feeling when we serve non-vegans some of our ‘meaty’ dishes – you can blow people’s minds when they find out it’s vegan! Also serving a banging drinks offering – our margaritas are some of the best in town.
Were there any challenges from going from pop-up to permanent restaurant?
There were definitely challenges – going from a pop-up to a bricks and mortar space there are more costs involved and the prospect of tapping into a new audience, moving from East London to Central, was daunting. Luckily we have a really loyal customer base and have been fortunate enough to have loads of support when we chose to make the move. It has been amazing opening in Kingly Court, I love the vibe here.
Do you have any tips for vegan (and non-vegan) start-up restaurants, and might you have done anything differently yourself?
My best bit of advice is to not worry – nothing is permanent and food is a constant evolution so you’re allowed to make mistakes, learn and improve. Also it’s so helpful to speak to your fellow traders, and other people in the industry – everyone’s on your side and will help you every step of the way.
How do you think the food scene in London has been impacted by Covid-19?
The food scene has been massively impacted by Covid-19 and the lockdown, it really has been such a difficult time for all of us in the industry given the uncertainty, but there has been so much resilience and out of it has also come some amazing new initiatives such as DIY kits. We’re actually developing our new taco kit delivery boxes, so people can enjoy Club Mexicana wherever they are in London!
The venue is ideal for a lively post-work dinner. Frozen margaritas on tap provide the perfect boozy accompaniment to the infamous tacos, filled with various vegan alternatives to popular flavours, which we ranked accordingly;
- Baja Tofish Taco
- Chick’n & Avocado Taco
- BBQ Short ‘Rib’ Taco
- Al Pastor Taco
- Cheezeburger Taco
For those looking for a larger, sumptuous dish, the taco combinations can be ordered in a larger, soft tortilla burrito, or atop rice in bowl format.
Open 12-10pm, Saturday 12-9pm