Sloane Square is dominated by chic bars and luxury hotels, so I was intrigued to learn it is also the home of Tonteria, an underground Mexican tapas lounge inspired by Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
Tonteria opened 5 years ago when tequila was becoming all the rage in London. Co-Founder Alain Dona wanted to create a space that was inspired by the colourful culture of Cancun and the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum. The first thing you notice when you walk into the room is a giant, glowing skull that doubles as a DJ booth. Green creepers adorn the walls and the black leather upholstery and low lighting gives it a very intimate feel.
Despite the dramatic décor, Tonteria has a relaxed vibe, at least until the sun goes down. When functioning as a tapas bar, the music is pleasingly quiet, although a few of the songs seemed more suited to a hotel lobby. The menu has recently upped its game with a delicious selection of posh Mexican street food that’s both fresh and authentic.
Foodie highlights included tortilla chips with a generous dollop of creamy guacamole topped with pomegranate seeds and ricotta cheese. I was also very impressed with the patatas bravas with garlic aioli, spicy tomato sauce and coriander – the best I have eaten in London! The crispy squid was good but I felt the green pepper and lime salsa needed an extra chilli kick.
For desert we tucked into some excellent churros accompanied with a molten pool of dark chocolate dipping sauce.
For drinks, we sipped on glasses of delightfully slushy frozen margaritas. If you prefer your tequila straight, there’s a vast selection on offer at the bar including Patrón and Don Julio. You can even get your shots delivered by the “tequila express”, a model train suspended on the ceiling.
Alain told us that he wanted to create a venue that was “all about accessibility, kindness and service”. Our waitress, who was dressed to kill in leather and latex (she looked fantastic) was charming and attentive throughout our meal. Alain himself defied the club owner stereotype with his warmth and good humour, greeting and embracing every member of staff who crossed his path.
As if by magic (or maybe the tequila) the venue transformed from a tapas bar into a nightclub. The music volume sky rockets and the tunes (or maybe the tequila) make you want to get up and dance. The space is dominated by warm bodies swaying to the music, and if you’re still there at 1am, the fun really starts.
Tonteria is well known on the club circuit for hosting some riotous themed nights celebrating all things Mexican. On the night we were there, elaborately dressed dancers with sugar skull face paint performed some amazing dances with sparklers.
Tonteria is also a firm favourite amongst the celebrity circuit, who head there for Muertos Mondays. Previous visitors include Prince Harry, Tom Hardy and Rihanna, and you’ll often spot Ferraris and Lamborghinis parked outside on Monday night.
As we headed out of venue in the early hours of the morning, a quote about tequila from inside the venue came to mind: “One minute you are sexy dancing, the next you are on the floor, pantless, making out with a shoe.”
When it comes to Tonteria, nothing would surprise me.
When: The tapas bar is open on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 8pm to 10:30pm and transforms into a nightclub at 11pm, closing at 2:30am on Monday/Thursday and 3am on Friday/Saturday.
Getting there: The nearest Tube station is the Sloane Square (Circle and District Line). It takes less than a minute to walk to Tonteria, which is right on Sloane Square next to The Botanist.
Where to stay: No matter how much tequila you have consumed, you should be able to manage the walk back to Sloane Square Hotel, which is less than a minute’s walk from Tonteria.