Near the top of Brighton’s North Laine in Gloucester Road, you will come across an intriguingly brightly coloured restaurant with a cartoon picture of a skull. This would be La Choza, a restaurant that serves Mexican street food. On the counter, there are tortilla chips and various salsas for you to try when you enter the restaurant. The salsas range from a mild green tomatillo salsa to a very hot naga chilli salsa.
It was a cold and dreary day and we fancied something filling so we opted for La Choza – I have often had a takeaway burrito or quesadilla to eat at my desk at lunchtime (a bargain at about £6) so I was more than happy to eat in. The restaurant is usually very busy and bookings are taken only for groups of 10 and more – you can expect to share a table if it is very busy (as we did).
The decor is quirky, authentic and as a brightly coloured as the shop front. There are plenty of Mexican sugar skulls, wrestling masks and pictures by Frida Kahlo.
The menu includes ‘shack snacks’ – these range from chicharrones (Mexican pork scratchings) to Mexican street food salad – which can be eaten as a starter or as a snack. The drinks menu included margerita cocktails, a range of tequilas and Mexican beers. These were tempting but we opted for Jarritos, a Mexican soft drink. Main courses include specials (on the board) and the build your own: you choose a base, a filling and a salsa. On this occasion, we chose a burrito as our base. Other options include tacos and tostadas.
I went for a vegetarian filling, the spicy squash and sweet potato with feta, and the green tomatillo salsa. The burrito was stuffed with refried beans, cheese, green rice and sour cream, in addition to the choice of filling and was served with some shredded red cabbage. This was delicious and very satisfying on a cold day! I have also enjoyed the prawns with chilli and lime and the catch of the day fillings previously. The smoked pulled pork filling, I was told, was utterly delicious too. Vegans are also catered for and there are gluten free options such as the soft corn tacos.
There is of course more to Mexican food than burritos and tacos – I have not yet been to Mexico but the best Mexican food I’ve had was in Houston at a restaurant called Pico’s which served ceviche and chicken in mole sauce and massive glass bowls of margerita. However, La Choza has a nice vibe and buzz – there is a wonderful eccentricity to the place and the food is pretty darn good. On a fine day, you can sit outside and watch the world go by as you eat. It is definitely one of my favourite places in Brighton!
36, Gloucester Road
East Sussex. BN1 4AQ
Tel: +44 (0)1273 945 926
Opening hours: Monday 11.30 – 16.00
Tuesday – Sunday 11.30 – 22.00
Typical cost per person excluding drinks: Up to £15 for 2 courses