Benito's Hat is a Mexican food stall located in the food court area - aptly named The Westgate Social - in the new Westgate centre. The shopping centre has been open for only a few months, and the signs of teething are still evident; store units not yet filled and ongoing building work to name a few. However, apart from a couple of employees-in-training, the Westgate Social seems fully formed.
Personally, I am a big fan of the food court model, allowing for a variety of cuisines from different stalls to come together on one table, perfect for groups of people with differing tastes. Never again must you decide between Indian, Lebanese and American: have all three! The neon aesthetic, dim lighting, funky music and sounds of sizzling surrounding you makes the whole place feel more like a street food market than a brand new shopping centre in central Oxford. Benito's Hat fits right into this unique aesthetic, with wooden surfaces and neon signs; and with an open stall and the kitchen visible behind the counter, the staff are ready for action at all times.
The staff, despite the aforementioned trainee on the job, were polite and welcoming. Even when my chosen steak filling ran out, which incurred a moment's wait, the staff behind the counter made me feel at ease.
The Subway-style set up of the stall allowed for maximum customisation of your burrito, with plenty of fillings, sizes, and sauces to choose from. This is great for fussy people, vegetarians, and those with allergies alike (gluten- and dairy-free options are available upon request). They give very generous portions, with my beefy burrito bursting at the seams.
I chose a grilled steak burrito with refried beans, rice, lettuce, tomato and cheese. Topped with sour cream and 'spicy' sauce, the flavours were great. The meat was cooked well; steak is so often overcooked in food stalls such as this, but this was juicy and succulent. Rice in burritos often feels like a filler (no pun intended) but this was well proportioned to the steak, sauces and vegetables such that it felt like a balanced part of the parcel.
One downside was that the 'spicy' sauce provided little to no kick. This isn't to say that it wasn't flavoursome, merely that if something is labelled as 'spicy' then I like to feel the heat. This is most definitely a case of personal preference, however, as I know several people who would much prefer it as it is.
The prices were perfectly reasonable, but charging an extra pound for guacamole seems a bit excessive. That said, I recognise that this is common practice for burrito restaurants so I can hardly blame them for cashing in.
All in all, Benito's Hat provides a great Mexican addition to what is - in my opinion - the best part of the new Westgate complex.