I visited Merseyside’s new Latin American restaurant and was blown away by the food
El Mercado is a new family-run business, offering a wide range of Latin American dishes - with tons of veggie and vegan options too.
and live on Freeview channel 276
Located on Ford Road in the heart of Upton Village, El Mercado is a new family-run business, offering a wide range of Latin American dishes - with tons of veggie and vegan options too. I headed to the new eatery with my sister and niece to try their offerings.
Upon entering, I was greeted with a smile and shown to my table by Yasmin, the restaurant manager and part of the mother-daughter duo who run El Mercado.
We were handed our menus and I was instantly impressed with the huge selection of cocktails but also by the mocktail offerings. Seven mocktails were available, ranging from a Virgin Pina Colada to a No Tequila Sunrise, which was perfect for my sister who is expecting.
I had a Pina Colada and a Tequila Sunrise, which were honestly as good as the ones you get on holiday, and my sister opted for the Virgin Pina Colada and the Blueberry Bramble. My little niece of course had juice, you can’t go wrong there. Each drink was beautifully created, and definitely Instagram worthy.
A lot of restaurants’ cocktails tend to taste like juice, but after trying my sister’s drinks versus my own alcohol versions, I was very impressed that they tasted pretty similar.
To start, my sister and I shared the Chipotle Agave Cauli Bites, and I honestly wish we hadn’t shared because I wanted them all. They were served with a vegan chipotle mayo, and I loved that they were a vegan alternative to the Chipotle Honey Chicken Bites on the menu.
I was impressed that when ordering the starters, we were asked if my niece wanted her main bringing out at the same time, meaning she could begin eating with us.
The starters are also classed as small plates, so if you don’t fancy one big meal, you can order several to be served as your main course - perfect for sharing with a group.
Now my favourite thing about El Mercado is that they have really thought about veggie and vegans when creating their menu, and so many of the meat options can also be made vegan. Myself and my sister have both been veggie or vegan most of our lives, so have dealt with some pretty mediocre options at restaurants over the years. But, at El Mercado we had so many options.
I got the fajitas, with can be made with beef, chicken or vegan mince - and chose the latter option. I loved that they came as a ‘build your own’ meal, with three tortilla wraps, vegan cheese, the vegan filling, jalapeños, salsa and avacodo all laid out. The mince filling was also piping hot and incredibly flavoursome, and the portion was very generous. It was nice to feel like I was properly experiencing what the restaurant had to offer, rather than a generic falafel wrap or baked potato.
My sister opted for the vegan mince burrito - which can also be served with beef or chicken - which was filled with sour cream, rice, beans and guacamole. Her portion was even more generous and she too was incredibly impressed.
My little niece opted for chicken nuggets and chips as she’s not the most adventurous with food just yet, and said the meal was the best ever - and you know how honest kids are.
After demolishing our mains, my sister and I had no space for dessert, but my niece opted for a delicious cheesecake, from El Mercado’s sister bakery, Olawa. The portion was huge, so we were given a container to take the rest home but she absolutely loved it. A range of desserts from the bakery are available at El Mercado, including vegan options.
The whole dining experience was excellent, with lovely decor and beautifully created dishes and drinks. Each meal was presented wonderfully, perfect for food bloggers, and the menu was reasonably priced too - honestly one of the only places I’ve visited recently with cocktails under £8.
Yasmin and the team were attentive and friendly, and you could tell El Mercado is already becoming a popular spot with locals, as people were booking their next visit when paying the bill.
I know Upton is a little out of the way, and probably somewhere you wouldn’t consider visiting for a meal out unless you’re a local, but if you like Latin American food or you’re a vegan looking for new options, it is well worth a visit.
Please note, this was not a press invite, we paid for our visit!