Top guide hails city eatery for 'best Mexican food in Ireland'
A tucked away Belfast eatery has been named restaurant of the year by a leading Irish guide.
La Taqueria on Castle Street has been honoured by John and Sally McKennas' Guides and described as serving up the "best Mexican food in Ireland".
The guide notes: "Never mind that their funky little restaurant in the centre of Belfast is upstairs over a Mace Express: what matters is that La Taqueria food is the real deal, and not some dumbed-down Tex-Mex mess."
Andy Rea, who is the owner of La Taqueria - which is run by Adam Lynas and his partner Eliza Vignolle - said he was proud of the restaurant's achievement.
Mr Rea formerly worked in Paul Rankin's acclaimed Roscoff restaurant and is now owner of Belfast's Mourne Seafood Bar and Home restaurants, as well as Belfast Cookery School.
"I am over the Moon. Adam worked for me in Roscoff and we always kept in contact. I put La Taqueria together, but the food and service is all Adam and Eliza," he said.
"Adam is one of the most talented chefs I have ever come across in my career. There is an absolute passion between the two of them as a couple, and you see it on the plate and feel it in the room."
Mr Rea added that the simplicity of La Taqueria's food was its selling point. "It's tacos and tequila, when you think about it ... I'm really honestly so proud and delighted for them."
Belfast Telegraph food critic Joris Minne described the announcement as "great news".
"It's a courageous decision by the McKennas and puts some perspective on our restaurant sector," he said.
"Of course, the Belfast Telegraph, in a way, paved the way for this as it included La Taqueria in its top 10 from 2017!"
There was further local glory, with Clenaghan's in Aghalee, Co Down, named newcomer of the year in the same guide. It commented: "Danni Barry has been killing it ever since she got the doors open at Clenaghan's, an old stone building in the middle of nowhere in Co Down. Exemplary technical skills meet with ruddy, agrestic country dishes in a culinary marriage made in culinary heaven."