Bodega Cantina Launch, Leicester

Bodega Cantina Leicester


Last week, us bloggers were invited to join Bodega Cantina for their launch night, and it was an event I'd been looking forward to for what seemed like an age. So the day came, and I stepped out  dressed for the occasion in my pineapple skirt. After a quick cocktail at nearby haunt, 33 Cank Street, the group assembled and we made our way to the venue, which is located in a prime spot in the popular St Martin's Square. The outside sure made an impact, with it's bright decor, and certainly gave a taste of what was inside.

The interior is brightly decorated with an array of South America fiesta inspired paraphernalia, think sugar skulls, Mexican wrestlers and graffiti walls hand produced by their in-house artist. There is such a fun, festival inspired vibe to the place and there is such a buzz (although that may have been the cocktails...).  Upstairs boasts an impressive function room again brightly decorated with graffiti-style art, and I think we were all thinking that it would be brilliant for a future meetup. [EDIT: We've already booked our repeat visit!]


Bodega Cantina Leicester Margarita


The Leicester branch is the third Bodega Cantina to open as part of the Bitters n' Twisted chain of bars. The first opened in Birmingham five years ago, followed by a branch in Worcester in 2014. Bitters n' Twisted founder, Matt Scriven said of Bodega: “We are proudly independent and this is our 10th year in business and Bodega Leicester is our 10th venue. Bodega has been such a hit with our customers that we know the demand is there for authentic, fresh, easy-going South American food in fun and quirky surroundings... People come to us because they don’t want the uniformity and charmless atmosphere of a chain. They want something authentic and niche where they can step into the vibrancy, colour and carnival atmosphere associated with South America”

Now Mexican/South American food is something that really excites me. I got really into cooking a lot of it at home a couple of years back. I love the simplicity of the dishes; lightly spiced meats and vegetables, uncomplicated sauces with the twist of lime and accompanied by the vibrant fresh salsas. However I've been disappointed eating this kind of food out and about. I've been left underwhelmed by the food at chain restaurants like Chiquito (although they do a gorgeous Strawberry Mojito) and Chimichanga, so I was more than ready for my faith to be restored.


Bodega Cantina Leicester Chicken Quesedilla
Bodega Cantina Leicester Nachos


We were able to try an array of different dishes, a real whistle-stop tour of Bodega Cantina and it's South American cuisine. The first dish was by far the most memorable for me. Chipotle Chicken Quesedillas, toasted tortillas filled with a generous filling of an almost BBQ-tasting chicken, with oozing cheddar and mozzerellas cheeses and pico de gallo.

Next were the House Nachos, and seeing as I've mastered the perfect at-home nachos, I had high hopes for this dish. I was not disappointed. Flour tortillas are fried to create crispy nachos, a world away from the traditional store bought corn chips. These were topped with melted cheese (although I would have liked a little more cheese), sour cream and salsa (this time it is salsa fresca, a wonderfully simple mix of tomato and red onion). The guacamole was beautiful, with a really fresh flavour.


Bodega Cantina Leicester Tacos
Bodega Cantina Leicester Jalapos


Then there were the Bodega Veggie Tacos. Soft four tacos filled with a mix of sweet potato and black beans, topped with pico de gallo and sour cream, as well as a slice of avocado. I don't usually order tacos and I found these particularly hard to eat. The flavour was lovely, but I think guacamole would have been easier to eat rather than the avocado balanced on top.

I missed on on the Jalapos: crispy cream cheese filled jalenpenos somehow. I photographed them but realised later on that I didn't actually try one. Looking at the menu as I write this, I'm now particularly miffed seeing that they come with lime mayo. It sounds like a delicious combination!


Bodega Cantina Leicester Albondingas Cubanos
Bodega Cantina Leicester Brazillian Xim Xim


The Albondingas Cubanas wasn't my favourite dish, just because it's not something I would ever think to order, but it was well executed. The homemade beef meatballs had a gentle warmth to them and were well seasoned, and it was paired with a beautiful mole sauce. I think it needed an accompaniment, so I would order it with the Dirty Rice.

I was excited to try the Xim Xim, a classic Brazillian curry. This one contained succulent chicken and juicy king prawns in a creamy peanut butter sauce. This one fell slightly short for me as I think the creamy sauce would have benefited from a squeeze of lime to add a bit more dimension. However the dirty rice which accompanies the dish was lovely and with vibrant mixed peppers, red onion and sweetcorn, flavoured with paprika and a sprinkling of coriander (there is no such thing as too much coriander, it's one of my favourite flavours!).


Bodega Cantina Leicester Margarita


Overall, the food was cooked to a very high standard and I really enjoyed trying the different dishes. There's a great menu to suit everyone, from vegan to gluten free. Everyone is catered for. There is also their twist on the classic burger for the less adventurous foodie. I've particularly got my eye on the Mexican Cola Wings, the Mango Salad and the White Chocolate & Mojito Cheesecake. Everything sounds amazing! 

We found the staff to be friendly and passionate, the bar staff in particular looked like they were having a great time making the cocktails (Margaritas naturally)! It was also really lovely that the owner, made the time to come over to chat to us, and we felt very included seeing as it was a night for both bloggers and traditional press. It was such a brilliant evening, I had so much fun!

I love that Bodega is more more than just Mexican. Of course there are the favourites, but there are also Brazillian, Peruvian and Venezuelan-inspired dishes, and the eatery really captures that vibrant Latin American spirit. There was a real buzz surrounding the opening and I think Bodega Cantina really fills the gap in Leicester's food scene. My photos definitely don't do the venue or the food justice, but I did vlog the evening, which you can watch here. Disclaimer: yes, a few too many cocktails were consumed...





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*We were kindly invited to the press evening of Bodega Cantina by Lime Green Communications. Food and drinks were complimentary but that does not affect my opinions. 

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Hi, I'm Kirstie and I'm the girl with an addiction to perfume

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