There is a revolution happening at Jesmond. Things they are a changing. I have to say I am in favour of it too. New restaurants galore and they all offer something new. Here, we travel to the delights of Mexico and Latin America in El Paso, the cultured new frenzy that vows Using only the highest quality ingredients, our talented chefs produce food that stimulates all the senses, perfectly reflecting the vitality of Mexico and Latin America with delicious aromas, vibrant colours and mouth-watering flavours. Having never been, I was intrigued to sample out the flavours and see for myself what all the fuss was about. The question was could El Paso live up to the hype? It was a Saturday night and the place was rocking. The surroundings are lovely. As you walk in, you automatically feel the Latin American vibes and essence. Flowers sprung at the entrance, then walk on a little further and you’ll be shone on by the most beautiful chandeliers that light up the encompassing forestry and brick walls. You will soon be dancing along on your seat to the acoustic live music upstairs too which is the bar area. Mightily impressive. Taken to our table for the night by Caterina, we ordered drinks. I’d like to point out that El Paso has an 18 page menu, (it’s more like a catalogue) of drink options available. They know what they want and how to do it. We decided to go for two crazy cocktails in the El Cartel – Blood Orange Gin, Grand Marnier, Chambord, Fresh Strawberries, Fresh Basil Leaves and Cranberry Juice and The Day of The Dead – 1800 Coconut Tequila, Lime, Cloudy Apple Juice and Black Cherry. They were brilliant and came presented in awesome glasses particularly The Day of The Dead which came in a skeleton skull-shaped bottle. Innovative, fun and captivating, I adored it; definitely a must try. It started well and got even better when we got our starter. We ordered separate standard and gluten free Tortillas with Salsa and Guacamole. Although they came in hefty baskets, they didn’t last long. The dips were tremendous. It was pleasing to see gluten free tortillas on the menu; my colleague actually preferred them to the standard. For our mains, we decided to go a tad mad. So here we go… We went for Cuban Mojo Chicken Fajitas, Honeyed Pork Ribs with Sour Cream Pesto and three Gluten Free Tostadas each which are smaller Tacos. They were: Confit Chicken, Cauliflower and Onion Pickles and Coriander Sour Cream Pesto; Spicy Orange Pulled Pork, Labne Sour and Crispy Onions and Black Pudding and King Scallops with Coriander Salsa Verde. When Caterina brought each dish, our table was beginning to get smaller and smaller until it was at breaking point but by it was colourful. Caterina, who was a lovely host, did well to fit everything on the table. Without realising and with so many options available, we ordered far too much. Although you will struggle with so much choice, just be wary of what you are ordering and try not to get carried away by the menu like we did, especially as the dishes are all large portions. My colleague loved the fajitas, so much so it inspired him to cook them at home the following weekend, not as successful I might add. The Honeyed Pork Ribs (Gluten Free) were my pick of the night. Wow. Drop off the bone, fall at your fingertips love with Mexican oomph! The Sour Cream Pesto was unbelievable and was a new accompaniment to ribs that I enjoyed thoroughly. The Tostadas were all unique. The Confit Chicken was amazingly light and healthy. The Pulled Pork was a spiced triumph that had kick. The pick of the three though was the Black Pudding and Scallops. Who would even try this? Whoever did, I am grateful. A taste fusion. Go on try them. I wasn’t in Mexico or Latin America but I didn’t need to be – El Paso was introducing me to new cuisine that was unleashing new tastes to my palate.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t any room for dessert – definitely next time. What more could you ask for? Super customer service, a romantic, luxurious, distinctive setting, cocktails in a skull, a plethora of tapas and fajitas (with many options vegan and gluten free), and awesome live music… Pass me the sombrero, I’m Mexican waving goodbye for now but I’ll be back! Fiesta siesta tequila repeat! A Latin American evening I will never forget.