We visit this alluring new spot to try some Tequila and Mezcal-based cocktails and soak in the South American character.
When Cafe Panama in Mumbai unfurled itself to the food savants, it was an instant connect. And why not? The now-ubiquitous neon script, a mic, and even a deep green vintage car for ‘staged’ social media shots that spell Latin American coolth. Leading the way to an expansive restaurant looking up to an all-glass roof, lots of bright greens and intense blues, checkered flooring and hanging wicker lamps. Pair it with a fine European and Latin American menu and it becomes a fitting tropical getaway right in the centre of the city.
What’s it like at the new Tequila Lounge?
Now, Cafe Panama has created a spanking new Tequila Lounge, which sits glamorously on the restaurant’s mezzanine level. What was hitherto dismissed as a social backwater, is now the space that guests will vie to be seated in. With a birds’-eye view of the lower level, we think it’s the perfect perch to take in the electric atmosphere when they have their live events.
“After over a year and a half of operating, we are excited to unveil our new Tequila Lounge, which embodies elegance, celebration, and our zeal for providing a luxurious dining experience! Plush velvety couches, a cosy bar and decadent tequila-based beverages await you at our brand-new tequila lounge,” says Shaan Gidwani, Founder and Managing Director, Acapella Hospitality.
Nosh on tempting tacos and a whole range of cocktails and drinks stirred up with Tequila and Mezcal, served from a glam new bar by men in hats. Gidwani and Culinary Director Chef Sushil Multani urge us to try the soft-shell tacos from their Cinco de Mayo menu, and we are not disappointed by the Macha Chicken (zingy and pickled, appealing to Indian tastebuds) and the Pork Al Pastor (chargrilled pork belly with toasty pineapple) fillings.
The Portobello Mushroom with guac and the pulled jackfruit with jalapenos, are understandably, the most popular vegetarian options. The tortillas wrapping these fillings are pliable and soft and compliment the intense flavours better than the corn-based hard shells do.
You can also order up from their regular menu, where Avocado and Halloumi fries and the sourdough Cubano are perennial bestsellers, with good reason. But, my favourite, as it has been on previous visits, is the Citrus Pomelo salad, a well-balanced mix of bittersweet pomelo with the crunchiness peanut and ponzu with honey and wild rice.
We don’t go for mains and desserts as we are here to check out the offerings of the Tequila Lounge, but their Biscoff Cheescake with Dulce de Leche and Baked Raspberry and Cinnamon Chocolate Pudding that I’ve enjoyed on many an occasion are so good, they’re well worth a dedicated dessert stop!
Sophisticated solutions at the Tequila Lounge
Tequila and Mezcal have evolved from hard shots dunked on boozy brawly night to very stylish adult libations on the classiest of cocktail menus. These Latin American faves still give you a touch of the raw fire but paired with ingredients that complement or temper them and elevate the final taste.
Everything from dehydrated watermelon pulp to Bhavnagri chilli gastrique is used with intention. Gidwani reveals that 60 per cent of Cafe Panama’s bar sales come from their mixology menu. Savouring the complexity of La Menta, my Mezcal-laced take on a classic Negroni, I can see why.
Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars) | Food: 7/10 | Drinks: 7/10 | Service: 8/10 | Décor: 9.5/10 | Vibe: 9/10 | Timing: Between 12 pm and 1 am | Address: Todi-Mathuradas Mill Compound, Sitaram Jadhav Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai | Contact: +919988214444 | Instagram: Cafe Panama Mumbai.