It’s not often I am taken by surprise by somewhere - but The Garibaldi Hotel was a complete surprise (in a good way, obviously!)
The Garibaldi Hotel claims to be a ‘backstreet boozer’ situated on Bailiff Street in Northampton, once with a reputation for being a bit ‘rough’ it has certainly turned that opinion upside down and become one of Northampton’s coolest and most unique venues.
It's a cultural hub of the town that celebrates art, music, cutting egde music and events and ofcourse... fabulous Mexican street food!
From it’s funky, urban green decor, large windows that pour in the glorious sunshine, unusual but cool artwork and the outside courtyard with graffiti walls - it’s an ideal venue for summer fun, food and events that supports everything local and independent.
Wednesday, which was the night we visited, happened to be retro games night - which very much pleased Josh as he noticed a Nintendo 64 with Mario Kart on!
As we walked in, the vibe is calm and relaxed and we were greeted by a lovely lady at the bar of whom we ordered drinks from. Josh usually goes for a pale ale, but I decided to go with a drink that would fit in with the theme of cuisine we were having. I asked the lady for her recommendation and she said the Margarita would be a good pre-dinner drink - and very fitting too!
We were free to sit anywhere, as the Garibaldi Hotel is not really a place where you sit and wait to be served - it’s supposed to be a casual environment where you come in, order drinks and food at the bar and chill out in one of their seating areas, which they had plenty of - from tables and chairs by the window, to cosy green velvet chairs by the pool table.
We glanced at the menu whilst we sipped our drinks - though my Margarita was small in size, it was big and strong on flavour (and alcohol!) There was so much variety on the menu and as Mexican is one of my top favourite cuisines, it was really hard to choose!
Speaking to Tom Neal, the owner of The Garibaldi Hotel, beforehand, I asked him what he would recommend, which made our decision easier. He mentioned how good the burgers were, how the pork tacos are the best and how the new summer menu features quesadillas… useful and helpful, but still so much to choose from!
Usually, in a street food environment, I would usually pick 3 to 4 main dishes to share with Josh, which would give us a taste of everything - but for review purposes, I wanted to try a starter dish, a main dish and the churros as a dessert dish to give you guys a full example of what you could have at the Garibaldi Hotel.
For a starter dish, I went for something completely out of my comfort zone: the Chorizo in white wine and garlic.
Usually, I’m not a fan of chorizo as my taste buds are very much used to lighter tastes, but I couldn’t help but indulge in the mixture of sweet and spicy that was coming off the Chorizo - plus, when a dish serves full garlic cloves, you know you’ve got a good one!
Josh went for the Jalapeno Bell Poppers, which even I had a few bites of - considering it contained jalapenos, it wasn’t ‘blow your head off spicy’ but the cream cheese and spinach really mixed in well, making this proper gooey to bite into - yum!
Main course is always an exciting one, but mine was SUPER exciting. I had the Pork Tacos which were dripping in sauce, tender and moist in texture and juicy to the bite. I'm so glad Tom suggested these, as they were a great choice!
Josh went for the Chicken and Avocado Enchiladas which I was quite jealous of as they were big in size and incredibly flavoursome. I did have a few bites! We each got a pot of sour cream, which is an additional £1 from the extras menu which you can choose to opt for and includes things like Avocado/Guacamole, Sour Cream and Salsa!
Afterwards, we were offered some Churros to end our meal - of course, we said yes! What else do you have as a Mexican street food dessert!?
I love it when Churros are covered in so much sugar, it covers your lips and you can lick it all off! They were crispy and sweet on the outside, then fluffy on the inside, so no complaints here! Dipped in the dark chocolate sauce, which was plenty for the both of us to share and cover our churros in.
However, it would have been better if the Churros were served as even numbers, as we were given 3 Churros to share - which meant we had to split one in half!
After our dinner, we hurried over to the Nintendo 64 and had a couple of games of Mario Kart, which was an awesome way to end our meal and we found ourselves laughing over how badly I played! There's not many places where you can eat Mexican food and follow it up with a game of Mario Kart!
We also noticed, as well as computer games, there were lots of retro board games like Monopoly and Scrabble, which Josh and I are huge fans of too - so we know next time we come back for a drink and some food, we'll be having a go at those too.
Overall, I was pleasently surprised at our experience at The Garibaldi Hotel. For a "backstreet boozer" which sounds like a place you don't want to visit, you couldn't be more wrong. It's defintley a hidden gem that more people in Northampton need to come to.
It's full of friendly staff, an urban, retro vibe that you come to really appreiciate and it's just a really cool place to hang out. I only wish it was closer to us, in terms of distance, but The Garibaldi Hotel is somewhere you can enjoy any day and night of the week, not just the weekend - there's plenty of events they hold daily such as open mic nights, live music, retro games night and even kitchen takeovers on a Sunday.
If you've heard differently about The Garibaldi Hotel, I highly suggest giving it another chance and checking it out. There is something for everyone to enjoy from good beer, good food and good vibes!
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