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Review

Arizona

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2 Jamestown Road, Camden NW1
(020 7284 4730)

Average price per head: £20
Rating: 1/5

A blackboard on the wall of Arizona proudly claims that the Tex-Mex eaterie is “Camden’s friendliest hangout”. Cynics might question why it doesn’t refer to itself as a restaurant. They’d have a point. On the plus side, they’re completely unpretentious about the cheap and cheerful fajitas, ribs and burger menu. On the downside, after a touch-and-go tube journey home, I spent much of the night locked in the smallest room.

The restaurant is decorated in the traditional London Tex-Mex style of dark wood, subdued lighting and earthy colours that make me wonder if Dulux do a shade called “Cantina Orange” and, for the unfussy, it’s a funky enough spot to enjoy a cold beer or a pitcher of cocktails. These come in at around pub prices so it’s not difficult to see the appeal.

Food wise, things started fair to middling. Stuffed mushrooms (£3.95) lacked flavour but Taquitos (also £3.95), mini tortillas of cheese, minced onion and spinach, were reasonable. Admittedly, the on plate presentation leaves a little to be desired – think myopic 16-year old kitchen trainee armed with a bag of salad – but they tasted okay.

I think it was the main course where my digestive system met the challenge it couldn’t handle. I’ve been to good places where you’d think twice about ordering pork but, with two or three Sols working their buzzy magic, I forgot my own sage advice and went for the waitress-recommended Three Amigos (£9.95) – medallions of pork, lamb and chicken, accompanied by lacklustre salad and soggy potato wedges. I know, I know: that it was named after a crappy Steve Martin movie should have been warning enough but y brain was Sol-addled. My partner’s Steak Fajitas (£10.95) on the other hand tasted okay - but had the consistency of leather. Ironically, the best thing we ate all night was the Hot chocolate fudge cake (£3.50), and that clearly came fresh from the packet.

As a bar, Arizona has its place in the world. As a restaurant, it sucks.