Reviving the somewhat tired dining scene of Chelsea’s Kings Road, Ixchel, the long-awaited Mexican restaurant and Tequila bar has opened its doors with the promise of transporting guests to the hedonistic oasis of Tulum and is set to be amongst the best dining establishments to have opened this year.
Launched under Fraser Carruthers’ Fairbairn Capital, which notably has Chelsea favourites Albert’s and Raffles under its portfolio, the fashionable hotspot oozes the bohemian vibes of the beach clubs that have put the Yucatan peninsula on the map and spans two floors.
Borrowing its name from the Mayan goddess of the moon and textiles, Ixchel is a sensory delight; from the bustle of the busy streets that neighbour the restaurant, you are immersed in the free-spirited vibe of this place with no detail spared in its interior.
Showcasing Mexican art to its fullest extent, one enters to be welcomed by a mural by Rafael Uriegas, which nods to ancient mythology and sets the scene for the dining floor, which opens onto the Moon Bar, acting as a focal point.
Designed by female-led Behind The Door Designs, the inviting décor is enlivened by Mexican influence, floor-to-ceiling windows allow the natural light to linger on the ground floor, and carefully curated art and contemporary sculpture adorn the space.
In perfect matrimony to the vibrant style Ixchel exudes, the menu devised by Head Chef Ximena Gayosso Gonzalez celebrates the exotic tastes synonymous with Mexican cuisine.
Known for his flair in creating traditional dishes but with a modern twist, Gonzalez brings his years of working across the likes of Shoreditch’s famed Brat and Mayfair’s Ella Canta to the helm of the kitchen at Ixchel and has created an easily navigated menu of small and large plates, salads, tacos and quesadillas.
The concept here is very much a sharing one, so you are fine to go either as a couple or a larger group (or even alone) as you so fancy; there are plenty of tantalising dishes to try and with the varied size of the dishes you can probably comfortably order around 4-5 dishes per person.
Start with a few of the Para Picar (small plates); the Bluefin tuna sashimi is a signature and is served with a ponzu toreada sauce which gives a nice kick. The Crab macha tostada is also to die for, a delicious filling of crab, ginger and garlic chips give it a crisp with the freshness and zest of the crab nicely complemented by the other ingredients.
The Pork belly taco is also particularly noteworthy, served with salsa verde and refried beans it has texture and makes for a good second dish before going on to the main course.
Of the mains, the Charcoal crispy chicken thigh is a particular standout dish; its simple yet locally sourced produce shines through with the tenderness of the meat from the cooking techniques used, and it comes with a red chilli sauce, which really elevates the fusion of flavours.
A variety of different salsas, which range in spice levels, are also a highlight of the menu, and it’s worth trying one to give the food a little extra panache.
Something else Ixchel has mastered is its cocktails. Chosen by Nar Manager Manuel Lema, the selection is perfectly paired with the sofas that line the entrance for a more laid-back experience with some dishes and a catch-up with friends as you enjoy the upbeat vibes of the DJ all through the fancy Bang & Olufsen sound system.
There’s a choice of tipple for all tastes, which includes an alcohol-free selection. Margaritas take centre stage, with the Spicy being particularly popular and consisting of Patron silver with fresh jalapeño and a splash of organic agave. Do be warned, though, it does have quite the kick.
Of the House Cocktails, we’d recommend the Ixchel Negroni, worthy of being the restaurant’s eponymous drink; it’s a blend of honey-infused Campari, martini rubino and Patron silver – it’s the perfect Negroni, not too bitter, sour enough and with a nice fruitiness.
Open daily for lunch and dinner, Ixchel opens Monday to Wednesday, 12pm – midnight, with a later opening until 1am, Thursday to Saturday and on Sundays closes at 11pm.
Text by Jaz Grewal.