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Mercado Mexican Kitchen and Bar

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by Dee Mbugua (subscribe)
Solicitor/Barrister, Commissioner for Affidavits, Blogger, Media Maven, in no particular order
Published May 25th 2021
Flavours that have agreed to Mexican
There's Mexican food in Nairobi that I actually like. I can tell you as the matron saint of the annual foodie conference, the issue of international cuisine tasting, like it should, is forever on the agenda.



Mexican cuisine is one of my all-time favourite cuisines. I've been fortunate enough to have enjoyed authentic Mexican food in Australia and America, but every time I looked for Mexican food in Kenya, I ended up completely disappointed.

I tried Mercado for the first time last year when a friend suggested we catch up there. I had a meeting before our lunch date to remind myself that the food would likely be a disappointment and I should therefore taper my expectations to avoid sure heartbreak.

But not only did I thoroughly enjoy their food the first time, but the portions were also equally respectful of my appetite. Needless to say, when my girlfriends and I were planning to catch up a few weeks ago, that was the place I suggested.

Mercado entrance


The first time I visited, we sat outside but this time, I was determined to free my inner-child by sitting on their swinging chairs as I waited for my friends to arrive. I swung for a good minute because it turns out I'm one of the few Africans who is not loyal to African timing.

Lychee sangria


I ordered a lychee sangria as I waited, to assist me in my commitment to swing through lunch. I love lychee and sangria separately, so to put them together in an alcoholic drink is really to ensure my ultimate satisfaction.

Mercado decor


You've heard me say time and again, that great food paired with great ambience is like a love language to me. It's like - pick a triumph. My major grievance with Mexican food in Nairobi is that more often than not, it gives nothing that it's supposed to give. There are some Mexican food joints that have just refused to Mexican, but not Mercado. Mercado got the brief and executed accordingly.

We ordered the chicken tamale, seasoned chicken enchiladas and the spinach mushroom quesadilla. After placing our food orders, the waiter brought out a tortilla chip and dip starter and shortly after this, I forever altered the state of my tongue by trying the hottest dip they had.

Tortilla chip and dip starter


I don't recommend trying this dip (the bright orange one) unless you're prepared to continuously leak from your nose and eyes while the back of your throat needs a fire extinguisher.



After a few minutes of fanning my mouth and asking for milk to undo what I had done, I could finally taste again and dove straight into my chicken tamale.

Chicken tamale


I wiped the tamale off my plate pretty quickly - it was bursting with flavour and now a favourite menu item of mine.

Spinach mushroom quesadilla


My friends really enjoyed their meals as well, and as soon as the waiter had cleared the plates from our main meals, the debate about whether or not to have dessert ensued.

Seasoned chicken enchiladas


It was an extraordinarily brief debate given the distinct absence of dissent.

Fried ice cream


We shared the fried ice cream and churros.



After tasting the fried ice cream, I swiftly included in the agenda for the next foodie conference an action point: please fry things that are supposed to be fried, the right way. The pastry encasing the ice cream was too thick and chewy and in my view, should have been fried longer and pastry lighter.

The churros taste amazing and are evidence that someone in the Mercado kitchen has allowed flavour to locate them. My only squabble as far as the churros are concerned is the dips - the caramel was too burnt to qualify as burnt caramel - this one had crossed the border into charred territory. The chocolate dip could also be better - I'd suggest a higher quality, rich chocolate dip and this dessert would be perfect.

Summer breeze cocktail


Mercado came through with amazing food and drinks. We laughed, ate and swung through lunch all the way to curfew. You know you've had one hell of a time when you have to be requested to leave because the restaurant closing hours have found you mid-drink.
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Phone: 254700245795
Where: Kenrail Towers, Terrace (T) level, south wing, next to 9 West building
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