Friday, October 30, 2009


3 Local Shopping Centre, Masjid Moth, Greater Kailash 2, New Delhi
011 2921 6220

There’s nothing like a bit of over-sensationalisation, caps and multiple punctuation marks to pique my interest. Some months ago I stumbled across the headline “Amigo was ROBBED!!!!” on a blog. I clicked, picturing Martin Short in a sombrero held up at gunpoint on the Delhi Metro. Turns out, it was a blogger lamenting the restaurant Amigo hadn’t been awarded Best Mexican in some Delhi food guide, the honour instead going to some Tex Mex imposter.

Amigo, you see, is the Real Deal. You won’t find no tacos and nachos on the menu - rather, more authentic delights such as tamales, poblano chillies and mole.

Amigo has been open just shy of a year, in a little area in Greater Kailash 2 that’s now simply swimming with restaurants: Smokehouse Grill and Mainland China are just a few steps away.  

Amigo’s decor is trendy modern: thankfully, not a wall-mounted sombrero to be seen. The place was virtually empty on my first visit, although I’ve discovered that’s often the case as we prefer to eat at the ungodly early hour of 8.30pm, rather than 11pm like locals. There was a forlorn-looking group of people sitting on sofas near the door who turned to look at us hopefully when we walked in; turned out they were wandering troubadours, who later serenaded us with Jesus-loves-you style tunes. 

We were directed upstairs to a maisonette level overlooking the (almost empty) bar on the ground floor and opted to start with guacamole. I’ve seen a few entree-as-performance-art spectacles in my time - such as the flaming kebab served on the spear, the Peking duck table assemblage - but this one was a heap of fun, and presented no danger of burning off one’s eyebrows. A waiter wheeled a tray of avocados, tomatoes and onions over to our table and proceeded to make the guacamole in front of us, theatrically slicing, scooping and mashing the avocado over a bowl of ice. Impressive - and extremely tasty.

Next up was a fajita of shredded lamb (there are also chicken and vegetarian options). The portion size was substantial - enough for more than one person to tackle with ease. The meat was meltingly tender, while the salad and rice accompaniments fresh and filling.

My pan-seared duck breast with tamarind mole sauce was equally successful: the sauce was smoky and complex and without the sweetness I so dislike, while the duck was, unusually, properly cooked, with all the fat rendered off but without sacrificing juiciness or flavour.

Unfortunately my second visit was somewhat less successful. With an out-of-towner to entertain, we headed back to Masjid Moth hoping for a few hours of solid catching up, but stumbled across Amigo’s salsa class night. Who knew? The DJ, not far from our table on the maisonette level, was in full flight, as couples shimmied nervously around the dancefloor downstairs. The music was so loud we couldn’t even hear each other sneeze, so we gave up on trying to converse and just stared dejectedly at our plates for much of the meal. 

Luckily, the food made up for it. This time, the guacamole not available, I tried the Pepper Popper. Cute name, but why not just say Chillies Rellenos and extend the authentic theme? I fell in love with stuffed poblano chillies on a recent trip to California, and sadly this one didn’t square up, although, to be fair, Colibri set the bar sky-high.

The rest of the meal, thankfully, was as good as the first visit, the quesadillas fresh and cheesy, the fajitas tender and flavoursome. 

Amigo, the management informs me, is undergoing somewhat of a transformation. The interior is being revamped while the menu is being extended to include Mediterranean and Lebanese options, although will continue to serve authentic Mexican delights. The guacamole, I’m assured, will never be taken off. 

(image courtesy of Amigo restaurant)


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