Nestled in the heart of Spitalfields Market, Las Iguanas is a great place to enjoy an evening meal for both city workers and shoppers. With a vast menu offering everything from meat to vegan and gluten free meals, Las Iguanas is a little slice of Latin American heaven that pleases the carnivore and the vegan.
Standing out from the rest of Spitalfeilds market, it is hard to miss Las Iguanas with its striking outside décor. The front wall of the restaurant is made entirely of glass, enabling you to see straight through to the bar, giving the building both a modern and enticing look; a bar bursting with customers is welcoming sight after a long day at work.
I visited Las Iguanas on a lively Friday Night, and every table was full and the downstairs was packed. The bar dominates the ground floor, and can be somewhat disorienting at first, but the loud music and dancing soon puts you in the mind-set to have a fantastic night out. Inside, the décor matches the overall modern and trendy feel of Las Iguanas. Over the bar are some amazing spherical glass light fixtures that provide an up market look, while the patterned tiled floor and lit up walls give a contemporary edge.
The restaurant was completely packed and full of energy and excitement. There is an eclectic mix of modern pop and traditional Latin American music, a fantastic fusion that is visible throughout the restaurant design, and even the food. The décor is a fusion of exposed woodwork, modern furniture, and one wall is completely painted with an image of dancing women, giving the restaurant an incredibly stylish Latin American feel.
Our waistress was very friendly and we didn’t wait long to be seated. The main menu is huge and there is also a large separate menu for vegans, vegetarians and gluten free, which is rare in other high street restaurant chains. As I began by ordering vegan food, the waitress was incredibly conscientious and made sure that I was aware of what meals had dairy in when considering the main courses. It is not often that waiting staff are so aware of dietary requirements.
To begin we choose several starters, Holy Guacamole (for sharing), Quesadilla & Pan Ajillo. The Holy Guacamole was a combination of crispy corn chips and dips; unlike other Mexican restaurants they serve onions and tomato on the side, enabling you to mix the guacamole to your liking. The guacamole was very zesty, refreshing and a great constancy. The presentation was not fantastic, but gave it a nice, rustic appearance.
The Quesadilla -rammed with garlic mushroom, chilli, thyme and cheese- was gorgeous. The presentation was fantastic and the quesadilla had just the right amount of garlic kick, while the mushrooms were cooked to a succulent perfection. It was also accompanied by a home-made tangy tomato salsa.The Pan Ajillo is a ciabatta, buttered with garlic, coriander & chilli, which was very tasty, but not as exciting as the other starters.
The starters were very healthy portions and could easily be enjoyed as a tapas lunch; I would advise only choosing one per person if you plan to have a three course meal or you may become overwhelmed.
For the main course I had the Gringas, while my colleague ordered the three mushroom Fajita. The Gringas comprised of grilled tortilla- upon tortilla- stuffed with refried black beans and cheese. It was topped with roasted coconut squash, pink pickled onions and soured cream. I had the vegan option of this meal which omitted cheese and sour cream, this dish was so full of flavour that neither of these were remotely missed. The coconut squash was scrumptious and roasted to a soft perfection. The refried beans were very tasty, but if you are not used to strong garlic this may not be the dish for you, but in my opinion the garlic complimented the squash beautifully. The pickled onion tasted misplaced and too strong at first, but when combined with the other elements of the dish gave the food a tangy aftertaste that was sublime. This meal also came with a fresh side salad.
The Three Mushroom Fajita encompassed portobello, enoki and button mushrooms, cooked in a mix of coriander, lime, paprika, cumin, onions and peppers. They were served with guacamole, soured cream, jalapeños, tomato salsa & soft wheat tortillas. A vegan option of this dish is also available. The mushrooms were incredibly delicious and the varieties worked well together, the use of coriander and paripka added an excellent extra dimension of flavour to the dish. The fajita meal was quite simplistic compared to the other food on offer, but was well made, had a lot of flavour and was quite a large portion; an excellent introduction for people who are new to Mexican food.
As you can imagine by time we got to dessert we were quite full. The waitress suggested I try an assortment of handmade sorbets. I was glad that I did! The selection of lemon, raspberry and mango was an exquisite and refreshing pallet cleanser, perfect after hang such a big meal. They were beautifully presented, well made and had a soft consistency.
My colleague had Affogato Cubano, a scoop of dulce de leche ice cream drowned in spiced rum espresso with a cinnamon sugar-dusted churro on the side. This dessert was the only let down throughout the whole evening. The chrurro was not sweet enough, it was unfortunately quite tasteless. The scoop of dulce de leche ice cream with spiced rum espresso, however, was lovely and a pleasing end to the meal.
Overall Las Iguanas was great value for money, the meal for two cost £39, and the portions were fantastic. The cocktails were good, and the two for one deal on a Friday night only helps to get you into a party spirit. Overall the meal cost around £53.
With a vast selection of meat, vegan, vegetarian and gluten free meals, Las Iguanas can please everyone. It is not often that a high street restaurant offers such a varied, interesting menu.
They also provide vegan wine and beer.
If you want a good night out, with some tasty food and a fun atmosphere, I would definitely suggest Las Iguanas.
Reviewed by Harlen Leonard, Graduate Intern to Alison Jane Reid.
Ethical and Sustainable Credentials
Editor’s comment. While Los Iguanas is not an organic restaurant, I am interested that they cater as much for carnivores as vegans and vegetarians – this is progress! The chain supports and buys authentic ingredients from native, South American suppliers and states that it strives to be GM free. Their coffee supplier , Daterra, is Rainforst Alliance certified. While their cachaca partners, Magnifica, supply organic sugar cane, which is only mixed with local spring water during distillation.
Los Iguanas also states that it has above average working conditions for its staff.
Locations: Las Iguanas are located around the country, for more detail head over to http://www.iguanas.co.uk/locations/
Food is locally sourced.
Children: Smaller meals for children are available.
Average cost for starters: £3-£6
Average cost for main meal: £7.00-£15.00
Average cost for desserts: £3-£6