Alongside many other curious passers-by, the other day we popped into the meticulously designed Mestizo Market. The fledging store is one of Euston’s latest arrivals, but it has not come roaming into this part of town alone: it’s the younger sibling and neighbour to the eponymous Mexican restaurant.
With the aim of transforming the space into a hub that celebrates the cultural and culinary offerings of Mexico, the mini marketplace seems set to further bridge the gap between Mexico City and London Town. Brimming with friendly Spanish chatter, as Michael Jackson emanated from the shop’s sound system, we spoke to Julio Parejo, the man running the store for Marysol, the woman behind Mestizo.
His journey started when he was wandering down Hampstead Road with his Mexican partner when he first set eyes on the place. A Spaniard who has spent a lot of time in Mexico, Julio fell in love immediately, claiming it has the “closest tasting Mexican food in the city.”
As his visits became more regular, Julio grew increasingly friendly with Marysol, the energetic managing director of the restaurant. “She’s the pillar behind the company,” says Julio, “organising and orchestrating everything, she has had twenty thoughts by the time you have come to terms with one.”When Mexican-born Marysol briefed him on her latest project, namely the transformation of the building next door to the Mestizo concept store selling handicrafts, homeware, groceries, clothes, alongside a coffee shop and a burrito bar, Julio knew that he was the right man for the job. Having worked as a visual merchandiser for H&M for nine years, he was ready to nestle into a new challenge. “I am very grateful for my time in such a large company but I started to feel like another cog in the machine.”
This is most certainly a much smaller operation. Marysol, who used to run a similar store in Soho, is in charge of sourcing and selecting the produce, all of which are from different areas in Mexico. There is another employee in charge of the numbers, while Julio is responsible for placing it all together and “making it look nice.”
The vast, airy space has created the perfect playground for Julio, an evidently very talented interior designer, tasked with arranging a cornucopia of Mexican handicraft. Flowing dresses with subtle Aztec prints coat the walls, accompanied by drapes and body-sized cushions. These frame multiple tables, one of which is a feast table, and display units containing crockery, handbags, jewellery and shoes.Business, Julio confirms, is going well. Local residents and workers are constantly popping in and out, drawn in perhaps by the human-sized chihuahua coated in a Mexican flag peering out of the front window. They come equipped with comments on how cool the shop is and, as one woman enthusiastically squealed, surveyed the patterned bowls on display, “it makes me want to be in Mexico.”
And this, according to Julio, is only the beginning. “We are going to transform the space into a hub for people, with a lounge area over there,” he gestures to the chairs near the coffee machine, “and a Mexican streetfood chef whom we are currently deciding upon.” The Market is also fully licensed – with Mexican IPA and a huge selection of tequila – so there will be “plenty of opportunity to wash it all down with a shot if you are feeling a little frisky.”
It doesn’t seem hard to imagine that the new, trendy offshoot of Mestizo – in and of itself a bustling pull to Euston – will generate attention, and witness its fair share of fiestas at the bar, and siestas in the lounge area.