Latin American restaurant Paladar, a few minutes up from Elephant & Castle tube and right near a busy intersection, took us by surprise right from the off. We walked in expecting a homely, local joint, and whilst it definitely has that welcoming atmosphere, it wouldn’t look out of place in the centre of town. The restaurant, with Latin American art on the walls and Latin American music on the stereo, was vibrant, bright and completely full – the people of E&C clearly know what’s good.

There are Cuban, Colombian, Argentinian and Peruvian influences scattered across the menu, and though the flavours are authentic, the combinations aren’t necessarily traditional. The idea here is to give you an overview of Latin America, done in a creative way. All the wines and spirits are exclusively from the region too.

The menu is designed for sharing, although the portions are on the large side (not usually a problem in our books mind) as the nibbles are more like small plates rather than snacks and the rest of the dishes, split into sea, farm and land sections, border on mains. After kicking off with plaintain crisps and guac, some very crispy pork belly in a chilli sauce and beef brisket empanadas (which actually were snack size to be fair), we hit up one dish from each section.

From the sea we chose octopus; the meaty chargrilled tentacles came with tempura breadfruit, which we can’t say we’ve ever had before, adding some nice crunch and a great little pickled onion and radish mix. For the meat, it was 28-day aged sirlion steak with chimichurri and arepas; we didn’t feel the little corn breads were necessary, especially when the steak was cooked so well. And for our land-based option, we went for the roasted aubergine, which came sat on deep, rich, smoky frijoles. It was surprisingly one of our fave dishes of the whole meal.

As you may have guessed, Paladar was a bit of a revelation for us, so if you’re into Latin American food you’ll wanna get down here too.

4-5 London Rd, London SE1 6JZ