Craig works in a beautiful modern office in Shoreditch. I came to visit him at the end of the day, take a tour and hang out on the rooftop to soak up the sun while summer mercifully lingers into late September. I drank a Brew Dog Elvis Juice from the office fridge, met Huxley the office golden labradoodle and admired the reclaimed wooden floors and office ping pong table.
When Craig finished up for the day he suggested a Mexican place around the corner he had been to once before. Tacos are one of my favorite foods and I’m relieved that Europe has finally caught on to the glory of Mexican cuisine. DF, short for District Federal, the old name for Mexico City, has two London locations and packs a punch.
Orders and payment are taken at kiosks in the front of the restaurant giving the vibe of a hybrid fast causal meets counter service. We toyed with the idea of ordering two tacos a piece but then changed out minds and went huge with a 6-taco classic taco board. I had a Mexican porter, which I didn’t know existed as cerveza tends toward the lager side of beers. Craig got a Mexican-brewed American-style IPA which he was drinking in England to maximize the international nature of it al.
We started out with a plate of chorizo nachos and they were some of the best nachos I’ve ever eaten. Expertly arranged chips in a low mound ensured the toppings were evenly distributed on the tortilla chips. There wasn’t actually any cheese on the nachos, which at first seemed strange but the replacement cheese sauce wasn’t stringy and melded well with the beans, onions and greasy, delicious chorizo.
DF has a variety of sauces including a salsa verde, yellow habanero, a fiery red sauce and Valentino hot sauce for those who’s rather stick with the tried and true than try the house varieties. I was partial to the salsa verde and habanero. Craig is a glutton for punishment and enjoyed the fiery red salsa the best. We had practically licked the nacho plate clean when a waiter set down a corrugated metal tray with six tacos wedged between each V. At that moment the fire alarm started blaring and 50 eyes of the patrons turned toward the waiter awaiting directions.
No one moved. No one got up. No one even looked particularly worried about the red lights and siren. We waited it out and eventually the alarm turned off and everyone went back to their meals. Maybe it was a false alarm or some smoke in the kitchen or a drill. We’ll never know but I’m glad we didn’t have to abandoned our tacos and exit the building.
There were two each of chunky grilled chicken (the least inspiring of the bunch, it would have been easier to eat and likely more delicious if it was shredded,) pork pibil and my favorite Chili beef. They came in white flour tortillas, which I said was inauthentic but Craig didn’t seem to have any qualms about it. A few weeks ago I was out for tacos with my parents and called my mom a gringa for specially ordering flour tortillas. Our waiter nearly had a heart attack from laughing so much.
Each taco came topped with cabbage, cilantro and fabulous salsas. The pork had achiote & citrus marinade, pickled onions and sour cream. The beef had ancho chile marinade, avocado salsa, crema and melted cheese. The chicken had habanero & pumpkin seed salsa.
DF works with British farmers and suppliers like the South Devon Chilli farm, which supplies hot peppers, the Trealy Farm where the fabulous chorizo was sourced, and Belu water, which is a non-profit water filtration and bottling company working towards clean water.
DF is a lively place serving great tacos for a reasonable price, prompt service great portion sizes are the order of the day. I wouldn’t list it as a special occasions dining venue but for fast casual dining as a couple a small group it serves its purpose with style and finesse.