A new restaurant brings some Mexican sunshine to the office quarter near the Central Railway Station in Helsinki. Rapidly securing its place in the hearts of food lovers, even the Ambassador of Mexico is a fan.

It is probably the most ideal time of the year to discover some Mexican sizzle in the city of Helsinki. The polar nights are upon us and as the general gloom of November sets in, every means for keeping the winter blues at bay will be needed. Well, here is one top tip: head down to Eatos.

I myself visit the place in the quietest time of the day, after lunch, and get to enjoy the full attention of the restaurant manager Roshan Salwathura whose sunny disposition is guaranteed to make you forget about any possible worries.

“Eatos has been open for six months now and I have been working here right from the start,” he tells me, smiling.

“Right from the start” translates to months of work before the doors of Eatos were even opened, as Salwathura was fully involved in the founding process.

“The owner of Eatos, Rama Velagapudi, came up with the idea of founding a Mexican restaurant in Helsinki during his trips to Berlin where he ate in several such restaurants and fell in love with the Mexican tastes,” Salwathura tells. “As a result, the concept of Eatos was born: authentic Mexican street food elevated to the next level.”

And it seems that it’s been worth it. Often, all 70 seats of the house are booked.

“I strongly recommend booking if you wish to come here after 5 pm. It’s quite remarkable that we have managed to become so popular in just six months. In fact, we couldn’t have hoped for a better start.”

Salwathura says that locals have found the place quickly and many of them have already become regulars. Among the fans of Eatos is the Ambassador of Mexico.

“She thinks that this is the best Mexican restaurant in the country,” he reveals.

“Good food doesn’t have to be expensive”

Reading the menu, one faces a difficult choice between tacos, tostadas, quesadillas and burritos with varying fillings. Luckily, Salwathura is more than happy to help and brings me a variety of his own favourites to try.

For starters, I have tostadas de tinga de pollo, a deep fried taco with chicken stew, black bean puré, chevize, iceberg lettuce, red shallot, crème fraiche and coriander. It’s so good: the combination of ingredients works and the deep fried taco’s crispy texture differs satisfyingly from the soft filling. I also try a vegetarian starter, flautas de camote. It contains sweet potato wrapped inside a corn tortilla, as well as crème fraiche, chunky salsa, iceberg lettuce and crumbs of cheese. Both starters are very much satisfactory: good, pure tastes, which make you feel curious about what the kitchen has in store for the following courses.

“We always use fresh ingredients here, and everything is hand-made from the scratch,” Salwathura remarks. “The microwave oven is completely banned.”

I believe him. The level of effort that has been put into food can always be tasted, and everything here is so rich in taste and just has that je-ne-sais-quoi that only really well prepared food can obtain. Furthermore, the prices are strikingly low, with the most expensive dishes costing only 14.90 euros and everything else falling under this. To find something so good and affordable in the centre of Helsinki feels unreal.

“We don’t want to over-price our food,” Salwathura explains. “Good food doesn’t have to be expensive, it’s that simple.”

This is emphasised further by the main courses that swiftly arrive to the table. First, I try taco carnitas that can also be ordered as a starter. Taco carnitas are corn tacos that come with grilled pulled pork, herbs, spices and iceberg lettuce. On the side, there are small cups of salsa roja and salsa verde. Out of all the food I taste during my visit at Eatos, this one is my absolute favourite. In terms of tastes, every ingredient seems to compliment the next. To me, it’s just the perfect dish – delicious and healthy.

Mon-Thu 11:00-22:00
Fri 11:00-midnight
Sat 15:00-midnight
Töölönlahdenkatu 3
00100 Helsinki
tel: 020 734 6955
(also on Facebook)

Hard to go wrong

Next up is taco pescado; by no means a disappointment either. The beer-battered cod with chunky salsa, iceberg lettuce and chipotle cream is almost up there with the taco carnitas, in my books. Salwathura himself names taco pescado as one of his own favourites. Based on my experience at Eatos, it seems that whatever you choose from the menu, you can’t really go wrong.

There’s barely any more room left in my belly at this point but somehow I manage to squeeze in some dessert, too. It’s flan napolitana, a Mexican cream caramel pudding with a hint of rum and Kahlua reduction that is topped with pan-fried hazelnuts. The sweet, soft flan is perfect alongside a cup of roasted coffee – I feel like I’m being well and truly spoiled in this place. And it’s not just me.

“Every customer is equally important to us. Our rule is that customer is always right and we want absolutely everyone to leave this place feeling happy,” Salwathura says.

After my experience at Eatos, I cannot but warmly, enthusiastically recommend the place. It’s an escape to a land of delicious, exotic tastes where you can visit pretty often, too, as it’s really not a great burden on the wallet either.

Text and photos Mari Storpellinen.