Food & Drink Lifestyle

Ixchel – Bringing a Taste of Mexico to Chelsea’s Kings Road

Late November 2023 saw the launch of Ixchel, the highly anticipated Mexican restaurant and Tequila bar that opened in the heart of Chelsea from Fairbairn Capital, offering a Tulum-inspired experience. Featuring a tapas-style menu curated by Mexican-born Head Chef Ximena Gayosso Gonzalez, who has an impressive background, including work at Michelin-starred Brat in Shoreditch. Ixchel’s menu showcases a wide range of flavours and aromas, emphasising fresh, locally sourced ingredients to reinterpret traditional Mexican dishes like ceviches, tacos, and tostadas and TLE’s Simon Rumley recently experienced the restaurant. Read onto discover more.

Immediately noticeable from its King’s Road exterior, Ixchel’s interior is hidden from the public by ceiling-to-floor opaque cream curtains. Not only does this unique conceit shroud the Mexican restaurant in an intriguing mystery but it creates a virtual cocoon, an oasis of insularity for diners to forget London’s hustle and to focus instead on the feast inside. Inspired by Tulum’s beauty and tranquillity (the non-tourist part, naturally), Ixchel’s interior design is idiosyncratic for London but thoughtful and elegant.

Pastel-coloured and abstract wall murals, poured concrete floor, cacti, jungle greenery, and a bamboo ceiling evocative of an Indian chief’s jungle residence all conjure up the specific foreign destination. Trance-like dance music blends into the background for an atmosphere which is noticeably calming and impressively collected throughout the evening.

Whilst perusing the menu we snack on round, warm Totopos (corn chips) with a guacamole dip. Finely cut coriander, delicate tomato chunks and lime juice complement a texture which mixes smoothly with smashed avocado. I drink Tequila Sour which is smoky, infused with amaretto and decorated with a layer of egg white; not to be bolted but sipped slowly. My friend opts for a Spicy Margarita which is more refreshing and decorated with freshly cut jalapeño strips for an overall zingy, tickly tang.

The ‘Para Picar’ (for snacking) are sharing dishes and works perfectly for two. The Crab Tostada is an absolute treat. Decorated with a smattering of green leaves and coloured petals, the white crab meat is stringy and succulent. The round tostadas provide the crab with a crunchy base and texture and it’s all enhanced by small dollops of chipotle mayonnaise. Beware the black paste though. It comes in a black pinch bowl and, by English standards, is brow-dropping, sweat-inducing and might well blow your head off if you entertain more than a smidgeon.

The two Pork Ribs are flavoured with a sweet BBQ sauce, accompanied by finely chopped chives and a parsley and mint salad. The pork literally drops off its bone, disintegrates on the plate and melts in the mouth. There’s also a good chunk of fat to provide a viscous energy and some of the meat is charred to provide an occasional but pleasing textural crunch. This is nothing short of sensational.

The portions are sumptuous and rich so we opt to share one ‘Del Comal’ – from the griddle. Two flour tacos are folded over each other and rather than the smoothness which defines most tacos, these are fried in oil and are possessed with a rougher, occasionally crispier texture. Inside, impressively sized chunks of king prawn collaborate with refried beans and dripping melted cheese sauce to render the Sauteed Prawn Quesadilla as Mexican comfort food at its best.

The level of service is just as impressive as the food and our waiter, Sukumar, goes way beyond the call of duty not only because it’s his birthday but also because his wife is moments away from giving birth. A constant smile lights up his face and he offers an in-depth knowledge of the menu and the restaurant’s ethos. Sukumar shreds the impressively sized short rib for us and we make our own tacos which evoke those from Mexican street vendors and market stalls in the best possible way.

The adobo sauce and a pineapple and coriander salsa add a respectively smoky and fruity flavour to the dripping ribs. Although the portion is more than large enough for two, we order two sides (De La Milpa): Fideo Seca, a curious but comforting mixture of sour cream, cheese and silky pasta the size of rice grains and White Hominy Esquites, an upmarket but moreish version of the street classic.

The menu is the brainchild of chef and Mexico City native Ximena Gayosso Gonzalez. After working under Martha Ortiz at Dulce Patria in her home city, she defected to London six years ago and hasn’t looked back. She looks remarkably fresh and at ease after a long night in the kitchen and explains that the inspiration for her menu comes from a mixture of childhood memories and travelling the length and breadth of her native land. The idea is to mix comfort food with energetic flavours.

Tres Leches to Mexico is what Tiramisu is to Italy; an obligation to order and enjoy. The spongy desert is made of whole milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk. Ours is perfectly moist and a thumbful of chopped strawberries are hidden below the whipped cream for a lively but fresh surprise.

The dish is also decorated with meringue wafers for unexpected crunch value. We also share a Mexican Flan which is coffee-inspired and topped with Licor 43, a golden-hued type desert wine concocted from 43 different herbs and spices. The liquor’s usually gold hue is overpowered by the flan’s rich, dark brown and the flan is the closest anyone will ever come to eating coffee. Its strength is a surprise at first but compelling and a must for any coffee lover. It’s a powerful way to end a simultaneously rich but delicate and charming meal. Ixchel is not to be missed.

Contact Details

Website: ixchellondon.com
Address: 33H King’s Rd, London SW3 4LX

3-7, Walpole Street, Chelsea, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, Greater London, England, SW3 4QS, United Kingdom