If you’re looking for South American food in Birmingham, head to Bodega Cantina in the city centre. It’s a quirky restaurant with great food and a laid back vibe.
We enjoyed a complimentary meal with drinks.
The range of restaurants in Birmingham is amazing – you could probably eat a different cuisine every night for a month. It’s one of the things that I love most about the city, and I always love deciding where to eat in Birmingham when I visit.
Mark recently started a new job in the city centre, which means that we can easily meet up for a quick bite to eat after he finishes work. So sampling the food in Bodega sounded like a great way to celebrate his new job.
Bodega Cantina sits on Bennett’s Hill in Birmingham city centre, just a short walk away from New Street Station. I’ve visited the restaurant before, the most recent time being for a blogger evening back in April. It’s a vibrant restaurant with a lively atmosphere, serving a great mix of Central and South American food.
There are also some pretty fantastic drinks to be sampled as well, both upstairs in the restaurant and downstairs in the Sugar Loaf Bar.
Mark and I arrived just before 7pm on a Wednesday evening, and the restaurant was already pretty full. I’ve tried getting a table without a reservation before and it’s pretty difficult. So if you’re planning on eating here, it’s definitely a good idea to book ahead.
Mark had kindly offered to drive us home, so he was sticking to soft drinks. That left me free to sample a Mojito, which is always one of my favourite cocktails. This one didn’t have the strong kick of the Mojitos I have in Portugal, but it was fresh, cooling and minty. It was good start to our evening.
Although Bodega has a great energy, it also feels very relaxed. So we took our time to peruse the menu, while I also took the opportunity to look around the restaurant. I love the artwork and graffiti that cover the walls!
We decided to share a starter, so that we wouldn’t be too full before the main courses arrived. I remembered that Bodega serve really excellent nachos, and Mark was happy to go along with my recommendation.
However, when it turned up, I kind of regretted opting for the Large size…
Bodega Nachos are definitely nothing like the ready made crisps that you get in some restaurants. They are proper nachos, made from tortillas and smothered in melted cheese. Sour cream, fresh tangy salsa, and a lush creamy guacamole complete the plate. They are without doubt the best Nachos that I’ve ever eaten, and it would have been easy to fill up just on these. I knew that I shouldn’t eat too many of them, but they are just so moreish!
There were several options that appealed from the rest of the menu. Bodega do a range of light bites that you can order to share, kind of like tapas. This range includes options like ceviche, albondigas (meatballs) and empanadas. I love this style of food, but it something I prefer to linger over with a shared bottle of wine. We decided to save this for a future visit.
There’s also a great selection of street food, like burritos and soft tacos. I tried those out when I visited earlier in April, and found out just how very tasty they are. Mark decided to go for one of the burritos, with a side of sweet potato fries.
The burritos were tempting, but I like to order something different to Mark. After all, that way I get to try his food as well as my own!
So I opted to try something from the large plates menu, which includes some really exciting options. I found myself quite torn between the Lomo Saltado from Peru, or the Brazilian Xim Xim.
Several of the dishes are available as a gluten free option, but there is only one vegetarian option in this section of the menu. However there are plenty of vegetarian dishes in the light bites section, as well as a vegetarian option in both the burritos and tacos ranges.
When our main courses turned up, we were both really pleased with our choices!
Mark’s burrito looked really tasty. There are a range of fillings to choose from, and he had picked the smoky slow roasted beef brisket. Other options include slow roasted shredded chicken, and Dr Pepper marinated pork – that one is really good!
The burrito was stuffed full of spicy rice, beans and tender chunks of beef. It came with a side order of perfect crispy sweet potato fries, and the same three toppings as the nachos, but in a cute little side dish. Obviously I tried it, and it was just as good as I remembered from April. Mark ordered a Medium hot burrito, and that was definitely hot enough for me. Not so hot that you can’t taste the flavours, but with a real kick of spice.
I was almost feeling jealous, until I tried my own main course!
I had finally decided on the Brazilian Xim Xim, a spicy dish of chicken and prawns in a creamy peanut sauce. A portion of dirty rice and more of those delicious Bodega Nachos completed the dish.
It was like a cross between the consistency of a korma curry with the flavour of a satay sauce. But the sauce had a bit more of a kick than either of those two. The chicken was tender, and the prawns were cooked just perfectly. I really hate overcooked prawns, and these didn’t have even a hint of rubber about them.
I ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio to go with my main course, and it cut through the creaminess of the dish beautifully.
We both enjoyed our mains, but found ourselves too full to manage a pudding. I was pretty upset about this, because I was really looking forward to the churros with a warm caramel sauce, or perhaps the white chocolate and mojito cheesecake.
But alas, I really couldn’t manage another bite.
The Sugar Loaf Bar was hosting a private function, so we weren’t able to head down there for a drink after our meal. They serve a great range of beers, wines, and cocktails using spirits such as Mezcal, Pisco and Tequila. I’d been looking forward to trying the Mezcal Gin and Tonic again, which is a smokey twist on the classic cocktail. There is also a selection of mocktails for anyone who isn’t drinking alcohol.
We really enjoyed our visit to Bodega. It’s a friendly restaurant with a quirky appearance and a laid back vibe. By the time we left, the restaurant was still really busy. But we never felt that we had to hurry to choose our meals or finish our food. All of our food was delicious, and I love the fact that there are some unusual choices on the menu alongside the more familiar options.
Our meal was complimentary on this occasion. Our bill would usually have come to around £52, which I think represents good value for money. We’ll definitely be paying Bodega a visit again in the future, perhaps to linger over that shared bottle of wine and tapas.
Bodega Cantina – The Details:
Bodega Cantina y Bar
12 Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS
0121 448 4267