Venues

Escondido Tapas and Wine

Escondido Tapas and Wine
Write a Review

Is this your venue?

Claim it now!

Please or signup in order for you to claim this venue.

Cost
R350 per person spent (includes tapas and wine)
Ambience
Comfy & casual
Food
Tapas
Payment
Amex, Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa
EatOut_500_Web
EatOutDecal_500[4]

Critic's review

Kate Liquorish

Escondido, meaning ‘hidden’ in Spanish, is a charming tapas-and-wine bar tucked away at the bottom of the post office centre in Illovo. They’re known for their superb ambience, great wine list and excellent tapas.

Food
To call the menu eclectic is an understatement; it changes weekly and is a menagerie of Italian, Asian, Greek, Spanish, German, Indian, American and French bistro-inspired dishes. It’s a lot to take in and makes choosing several tapas that complement each other tricky, as the flavour profiles and styles differ so drastically. Having said this, they do offer large sharing plates, meze platters and sausage boards.

At any one time you’ll have more than twenty tapas options from which to choose. Recommendations included eisbein spring rolls with chilli jam, baked melanzane, grilled sirloin with chimichurri butter, tuna tartare with pawpaw-and-mint salsa, and pulled pork nachos with guacamole.

The first three dishes are good, but in no way spellbinding. The eisbein springrolls with homemade chilli jam are a lovely balance of sweet and salty with a soft interior and perfectly crisped pastry. The grilled tofu in a peanut and coconut broth is rich and luscious, but a little one dimensional in terms of flavour and texture – it could do with some crunchy sprouts and fresh coriander to elevate it. The tuna tartar with pawpaw-and-mint salsa needs more mint, less pawpaw and a bit of citrus zing – it has the potential to be a great dish, but is just lacking balance.

Then comes the crispy calamari strips with roasted-pepper salsa – a lovely dish and well executed. We wait a bit for the sautéed bok choi with garlic and nuts, but it turns out to be the highlight: clearly freshly prepared, crunchy, fresh and delicious.

For dessert, the cheesecake and chocolate fondant are legendary, but as neither of them is on the menu that week, we order the lemon-and-ricotta doughnuts, which are naughty in all the right ways and totally scrumptious.

Drinks
They have one of the largest wine offerings by the glass in Johannesburg; it’s dynamic, interesting and all-encompassing, as well as being excellently priced – just brilliant. In the same vein their range of draught beers and craft beers is fantastic, making this the perfect after-work drinks venue.

Service
The service is good, although more team work would help create better synergy. Management should also look at taking on a greater role with customer service.

Ambience
There’s a great vibe at Escondido. Whilst the restaurant is situated at the bottom of a small mall, you really don’t feel it; the venue is open, the tables are well-spaced apart and it’s tastefully decorated. It’s always full, so the restaurant buzzes, charging the space with an air of celebration.

And…
Look out for their wine events and weekly/monthly wine specials and competitions.

(September 2016)

Eat Out critics arrive unannounced and pay their way in full. Read our editorial policy here.

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Marie-Lais Emond

    Food
    With its impressive selection of made-from-scratch tapas and a unique wine offering, Escondido is giving Joburgers something to chew over. The huge variety of tapas changes all the time. While it’s true that favourites, like pork roulade, stick around on the menu, they appear in different guises and with new accompaniments. (May the dish with charred macadamia bits on a caramelised pineapple purée stay forever!) The famous pumpkin fritters are back, now with classic cinnamon and sugar, as are the skinny fries with parmesan and truffle oil. Baby soles with a dense creamy pea velouté hang out alongside tapas-sized lamb tagines with tabbouleh. Swiftly seared trout with pawpaw and mint could arrive at the same time as a trio of different little bangers and mash, soy-glazed lamb riblets, crispy calamari with aioli or, another favourite, roast butternut and gorgonzola tart with toasted pumpkin seeds. The portions are side-plate sized and served that way. The best spring roll of pork and halloumi was accompanied by real chilli relish: original, fresh and witty. A new take on a funny old classic, green peppercorn sauce, tastes delightful with its sirloin partner. For dessert, the malva pudding is exactly as it should be, naughtily laced with Amarula, and a perfect brûlée features coffee crème underneath. A faultless dark chocolate fondant appears with homemade pistachio ice cream. You could also finish with the cheeseboard.

    Drinks
    The wine experience at Escondido is entertaining and rewarding. The list gives wines by the glass, the bottle and ‘box’. The latter doesn’t indicate a slip in standard, but rather wooden bin numbers in the adjoining glass chamber. Here are tissue-wrapped and plain-label limited editions and beauties from the likes of Joubert-Tradouw and Gabrielskloof. By-the-glass wine appeals with this kind of food and there are some greats to be sampled. There are about five beers, including a ginger one, and a pleasant variety of the trustier cocktails.

    Service
    Brilliant – incredibly warm and welcoming.

    Ambience
    Dark wood and textures (in that purposely mismatched, up-cycled look) contrast with the transparency of the wine-box chamber. In the middle of the room is a dining table for ten. The many blackboards, full of writing about the foods and the wines, are moved around by staff.

    And…
    Every month they feature the wines of some other region of the world, for example Chile and Argentina.

  • Marie-lais Emond

    Food
    With its impressive selection of made-from-scratch tapas and a unique wine offering, Escondido is giving Joburgers something to chew over. The huge variety of tapas changes all the time. While it’s true that favourites, like pork roulade, stick around on the menu, they appear in different guises and with new accompaniments. (May the dish with charred macadamia bits on a caramelised pineapple purée stay forever!) The famous pumpkin fritters are back, now with classic cinnamon and sugar, as are the skinny fries with parmesan and truffle oil. Baby soles with a dense creamy pea velouté hang out alongside tapas-sized lamb tagines with tabbouleh. Swiftly seared trout with pawpaw and mint could arrive at the same time as a trio of different little bangers and mash, soy-glazed lamb riblets, crispy calamari with aioli or, another favourite, roast butternut and gorgonzola tart with toasted pumpkin seeds. The portions are side-plate sized and served that way. The best spring roll of pork and halloumi was accompanied by real chilli relish: original, fresh and witty. A new take on a funny old classic, green peppercorn sauce, tastes delightful with its sirloin partner. For dessert, the malva pudding is exactly as it should be, naughtily laced with Amarula, and a perfect brûlée features coffee crème underneath. A faultless dark chocolate fondant appears with homemade pistachio ice cream. You could also finish with the cheeseboard.

    Drinks
    The wine experience at Escondido is entertaining and rewarding. The list gives wines by the glass, the bottle and ‘box’. The latter doesn’t indicate a slip in standard, but rather wooden bin numbers in the adjoining glass chamber. Here are tissue-wrapped and plain-label limited editions and beauties from the likes of Joubert-Tradouw and Gabrielskloof. By-the-glass wine appeals with this kind of food and there are some greats to be sampled. There are about five beers, including a ginger one, and a pleasant variety of the trustier cocktails.

    Service
    Brilliant – incredibly warm and welcoming.

    Ambience
    Dark wood and textures (in that purposely mismatched, up-cycled look) contrast with the transparency of the wine-box chamber. In the middle of the room is a dining table for ten. The many blackboards, full of writing about the foods and the wines, are moved around by staff.

    And…
    Every month they feature the wines of some other region of the world, for example Chile and Argentina.

  • Marie-Lais Emond

    Chef Willem Lizemore and Henri Martens opened Escondido in October 2014 to focus on each of their obsessions: food and wine, respectively.

    Escondido means a little hidey hole or something secret, but when you enter the Illovo Post Office Centre, well known for two other great eateries – Assaggi and The Patisserie – this tapas bar is smack bang in front of you.

    Food
    The huge variety of tapas changes all the time. While it’s true that favourites, like pork roulade, stick around on the menu, they appear in different guises and with new accompaniments. (May the dish with charred macadamia bits on a caramelised pineapple purée stay forever!)

    Willem’s famous pumpkin fritters are back, now with classic cinnamon and sugar, as are the skinny fries with parmesan and truffle oil. Baby soles with a dense creamy pea velouté hang out alongside tapas-sized lamb tagines with tabbouleh. Swiftly seared trout with pawpaw and mint could arrive at the same time as a trio of different little bangers and mash, soy-glazed lamb riblets, crispy calamari with aioli or, another favourite, roast butternut and gorgonzola tart with toasted pumpkin seeds. The portions are side-plate sized and served that way, rather than on those dinky Spanish bar saucers.

    The secret to this (and all really good food) is the making of absolutely everything from scratch – it really sorts the chefs from the cooks. The best spring roll of pork and halloumi was accompanied by real chilli relish: original, fresh and witty. A new take on a funny old classic, green peppercorn sauce, tastes delightful with its sirloin partner.

    For dessert, the malva pudding is exactly as it should be, naughtily laced with Amarula, and a perfect brûlée features coffee crème underneath. A faultless dark chocolate fondant appears with homemade pistachio ice cream. You could also finish with the cheeseboard.

    Drinks
    The wine experience at Escondido is entertaining and rewarding. The list gives wines by the glass, the bottle and ‘box’. The latter doesn’t indicate a slip in standard, but rather wooden bin numbers in the adjoining glass chamber. Here are tissue-wrapped and plain-label limited editions and beauties from the likes of Joubert-Tradouw and Gabrielskloof – the special appellations and interesting plantings of our innovative winemakers.

    By-the-glass wine appeals with this kind of food and there are some greats to be sampled. Drinking a glass of Thelema Sutherland is a fine treat, and a rosé cabernet is a handy choice for gliding through many food choices. (It’s worth planning a driver for the occasion.)

    There are about five beers, including a ginger one, and a pleasant variety of the trustier cocktails. Every month Henri features the wines of some other region of the world, two of the most recent being Chile and Argentina. Australia will feature soon.

    Service
    The service is brilliant – incredibly warm and welcoming.

    Ambience
    Dark wood and textures (in that purposely mismatched, up-cycled look) contrast with the transparency of the wine-box chamber. In the middle of the room is a dining table for ten.

    The many blackboards, full of writing about the foods and the wines, are shifted around by staff wearing Rioja-red tees.

    And…
    The waiters recommend you order two dishes per person at a time, but I’d suggest you order in rounds of one each so that the food can be consumed as hot as intended.

    (April 2015)

User reviews

  • Escondido is without a doubt one of our favourite tapas spots and always a go-to for a great night out. We've had many a fantastic meal dining in their private cellar room/chef's table. The menu changes weekly so you're always in for a surprise when you visit. A variety of technique, cuisines & flavour are found on the menu but whatever it is, it's always delicious! They also boast a really impressive wine list! #thejoburgfoodie
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • We went to Escondido on the 18th of March, 2016 for my sister's birthday. As we arrived, I my shoes slipped right across their greased floor and I fell crashing into the table. Some of the waiters spent the next 30 minutes scrubbing the area to clean the grease. Not then, and not once throughout the entire evening did any of the 3 managers on duty come to even apologise, or simply to check if I was ok. I have had 2 knee operations, and will assess my knee in the morning. The rest of the evening was pretty average, the waiter's seemed to get annoyed if you took long reading through the long tapas menu, were not interested in offering suggestions, when they brought the birthday dessert through, they just dumped it on the table and left. I was beyond shocked at the service. I've lived in Jhb 28 years and have never received service or been treated this way. I've never raised the question before, but I must wonder whether the reaction to my fall would have been different had I been white. Not once throughout the entire evening, not after I fell, not after we went to sit, not when we left did anyone come and apologise or check if I was ok. Shocking.
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • WOW! I wish I had space for more...We started a "foodies" club about a year ago and we visit a different restaurant every month and I can easily say that this place took the crown for the year! Delicious food, well priced for what you get (worth every overspent cent), excellent wine list (albeit a tad overpriced compared to similar restaurants) and great service! Seared Tuna was divine...and so were many of the other dishes. Definitely try the pumpkin fritters - to die for! Hope to visit again soon.
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • Awesome spot in Illovo,opened through guts and determination and a dream of creating and perfecting something awesome. The food,vibe and drinks selection is amazing. Friendly service and always greeted by either Henri Or Willem. Keep it guys and all the beat
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • Was pleasantly surprised by this restaurant. I don't like the location, I do wish restaurants in Jozi would make better use of the open spaces we have! But onto the food. We popped in for a late-ish lunch. Our waitress was fantastic. The food was great. The bacon and cheese spring rolls, lamb rib-lets and coriander pesto calamari were delicious. My companions really enjoyed the mushroom arancini with truffle cream cheese, I ordered it but it just didn't get my taste buds excited. The other dishes were all okay. Lunch was chased down with a yum Pinot Noir. Its been awhile since I got tipsy at lunch. Will certainly go back to Escondido for more tapas!
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food

Menu

Set menu - No set menu as menu changes daily.

Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Cocktails
  • Dinner
  • Fireplace
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Takeaways
  • Wheelchair

Write a review

Nearby Restaurants

Featured restaurants

Eatout