El Norte

The Blurb

Part of the Emerald Hospitality Group, which includes Kensington’s Como Garden and Zuaya, El Norte is a chic new addition (November 2021) to Mayfair’s Dover Street. The fare is billed as a modern slant on Spain’s rich culinary heritage, and the restaurant’s extensive wine list also has plenty of Spanish options.

The Style

El Norte fits in nicely with Mayfair: expect plenty of sexy mood lighting and upscale furnishings. The layout feels intimate, with a bar laid out beside the entryway, and a chic, well-dress dining room trailing towards the back. Tables are smartly arranged, so that there’s a sense of privacy but close enough to still be buzzy. The lighting scheme—with up-lighting; illuminated wall panels; and hanging tasselled lamps—is fun and atmospheric. The faux greenery adds a Mediterranean lean without being heavy-handed.

The Food

El Norte serves Spanish food, and they’re not afraid to get a little creative with traditional recipes. The signature Tortilla de Trufa (tortilla with truffles) elevates the standard Spanish tortilla with umami-rich shavings of truffle and gooey Manchego cheese, and the hot, overstuffed croquetas full of meaty jamón may just be the best thing on the menu. Even the simple dishes shine: the rustic and fresh pan tumaca is a joy with crispy sourdough bread, high-end olive oil, and tonnes of garlic; and the well-charred Iberian pork is perfectly cooked and not fussed with too much. This restraint shows respect: when you have the best ingredients, you shouldn’t do too much, and there’s no need to get overcomplicated. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a bit more creativity, there’s always dessert: any foodie will appreciate the hot-from-the-oven coulant, oozing with rich pistachio and decadent white chocolate from its spongy cornmeal shell. (It’s big enough for two—but that’s not to say you’ll want to share it.)

The Drink

El Norte has a fun cocktail menu, with interesting twists. The violet-hued Black Sea is gorgeous and aromatic with Lilet and Suze, and the Pistachio Mojito is delightful enough to double as dessert. The wine list is extensive, with plenty of Spanish options, and all the usual favourites. In short, you won’t leave thirsty.

The Crowd

On a Saturday night, El Norte was bustling with a great vibe. Despite its small, cosy size, there were lots of groups (mainly of four), and it’s clearly a popular date spot too. Everyone was immaculately or smartly dressed (this is Mayfair after all), so don’t be afraid to dress up, but it’s not stuffy or overly pretentious.

In a Nutshell

Chic Spanish dishes in even chicer surroundings.

The Details

19-20 Dover St, London W1S 4LU; 020 3154 8182


Restaurants |