Bar Tobala feels part-American diner, part-roadside taco stand. Popping neon, bold cocktails, hot sauce bottles and eclectic music fill the room at this cocktail-forward Mexican restaurant. The characterful spot is by bartender Anthony Jayasekera (now-closed Romeo Lane) and wife Frankie Jayasekera.

Anthony is behind a bright and bold cocktail menu, which is driven by traditionally made agave spirits. While there are your classic Margaritas and Palomas, the list also includes the Telenovela, made with the more floral/vegetal Mexican agave spirit raicilla plus amontillado sherry, lemon, strawberry and rose water; and the Motel Tan, which mixes mezcal with limoncello, yuzushu, passionfruit and morita chilli (a smoked jalapeno pepper).

Everything on the drinks list – from the cocktails to the natural wines, Mexican beers and Jarritos sodas – is curated to match the food’s punchy flavours. Share-friendly dishes might include charred elote (corn) and escabeche (pickles). Plus, a selection of tacos, such as pollo verde (chicken in green salsa); chorizo, potato and quesillo (Oaxacan cheese); and jackfruit in a spicy tomato sauce. For hearty home-style cooking, order the pozole, a Mexican stew. The dessert, meanwhile, might be cinnamon pie with carrots cooked in sherry, evaporated milk and piloncillo (cane sugar) with a brûléed orange custard and Cointreau whipped cream. The dishes are inspired by Anthony’s travels to Mexico over the years.

Pool table green-painted walls crowded with pieces from Mexican artists, combined with high-top window seating, booths and tables loaded with snacks and share plates, add to the venue’s homey convivial feel.

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Updated: November 27th, 2023

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