Restaurant Review: Benito's Hat, Covent Garden
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3/5 London Mexican Benito’s Hat (which has outposts in Covent Garden, Oxford Circus, King’s Cross, Goodge Street, Farringdon and Leadenhall) specialises in burritos and margaritas, and it does them well – if in a slightly frenetic manner. When we arrived at the Covent Garden restaurant at 7pm on a Saturday evening, we weren’t expecting the experience to be a peaceful one – we could hardly have picked a busier time or location. Ordering food proved to be a confusing experience, though, and not just because the place was heaving at the end of cocktail hour. There are two choices you can make when you enter Benito’s Hat: either to sit down and be served at your table, or queue up, build your own burrito – and then sit down amongst those waiting for table service. It’s an odd concept, having those eating foiled-up burritos sat with those ordering from menus, and it’s vaguely confusing the first time you visit. Also there’s a lunch menu that appeared to still be available at 7pm, as well as the evening menu - or is the ‘lunch’ menu that which is always available, for those queuing? After spending over an hour there, I still couldn’t tell you. We hesitantly sat down and the food, when it did come, was happily much better than might be expected from budget Mexican fare. We ordered the antojitos, a Mexican tapas sharing plate that included black bean tacos, nachos with guacamole and mini burritos, followed by rice, pulled pork and a selection of other burrito-friendly extras (cheese, rocket, more guacamole and black bean sauce) from the principales/al lado/basicos sections. They had enough flavour to make the seating confusion worth it - plus, there was a lot of it, it was hugely filling and very, very cheap. Benito’s Hat makes good on its margarita promise, offering classic, frozen classic, pomegranate, watermelon and frozen strawberry, all £7 or below. We ordered the watermelon; it was so good that when our waiter came back we ordered two more. Other drink options include alternative cocktails (mojito, paloma, strawberry daiquiri, again all under £7), as well as Mexican beers, soft drinks and a small selection of wine. The staff too were great, very obliging, and the service was quick – possibly too quick, but fast is the way Benito’s Hat obviously operates – reflective of its always hectic West End location. Benito’s Hat is somewhere you go to grab a quick and filling dinner, pre-night out or on your way home – it’s loud, it’s fast, and it’s not somewhere that you feel that you can linger for an extended amount of time. But as students, filling, budget burritos are probably something you’ll welcome gladly into your life – and for that, Benito’s Hat can hardly be beaten. There’s also a cocktail hour every night (and all day on Mondays) between 5pm and 7pm.
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