Tag Archives: burrito

What’s Mexican slang for someone looking for fun in the bright lights of Mexico?

Chilango: 27 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 0PN

There’s lots of Mexican places in London, from the trendy burrito shacks to the market stalls and from the slap-up chains to the more costly dine-in restaurants. Well, many there may be, but there’s a reason that Chilango was voted No 1. Mexican restaurant in 2011 and 2012. And you know, these surveys aren’t always right.

Squashed into Upper Street in Islington, amidst Starbucks’, H&Ms and even a Jack Wills, Chilango offers a spot of colour where others are going for the professional commercial boredom. That’s not to say that Chilango’s isn’t professional. It’s just different, you’ll see.

The restaurant, if you would call it that, more of a paint-splattered, endearing shed, is narrow but two-storey with plenty of seats up and downstairs. Go along to the end and you’ll be faced with the simple menu of salads, burritos, tacos etc with pork, chicken, beef and all the beans, guacamole and peppers you should want in a Mexican.

The staff are efficient but by no means hurried and, as a minimum, walk along the rows of food opposite you following your directions of whatever you want on your burrito or choice of base. As if that wasn’t enough, all the food is freshly prepared adjacent to the service area so even if the menu isn’t quite convincing enough, the smells certainly will be. I wasn’t so enticed by the bagged nachos, though they had been bagged in-store as opposed to say, Tesco’s nachos, and I suppose to some extent it stops the chips from drying out. Otherwise, there are no starters/desserts or hot drinks though cold ones are available. The interior is awash with colour, one wall plastered head-to-toe with old record covers, while seats are available as bar stools, cosy benches or more intimate booths. It’s laid-back, funky and really welcoming.

The special Pirito Chicken Burrito came stuffed with coriander rice, fried peppers and onions, mild salsa, sour cream, cheese and guacamole. The tortilla was huge and light, supple enough for our waitress to masterfully fold everything inside to form a handy wrap-type meal in foil! The pirito chicken was succulent, not too spicy, and, while some may find the mix of hot and cold a little odd, the components of the dish blend wonderfully. The coriander rice wasn’t particularly prominent, but a nice filler.

Chicken Salad is a great choice for smaller bellies, those watching the calories or even for someone who wants to taste a little more as sometimes the ingredients shine out a little better. The grilled chicken was chargrilled and juicy, freshly cubed, while the salad was bright and fresh. The mild salsa was thick and chunky and added just enough heat. Sour cream and guacamole were both fantastically thick, the sour cream smooth and moreish, while the guacamole was a little grainier, as it should be, but rich and fatty. Fried peppers and onions were recognisable, so not overdone, and the black beans were fat little spheres of goodness.

Chilango may look like just another burrito bar, or even like someone’s home improvement project in a lean-to, but I can guarantee that you won’t be needing to go to Mexico for fun and adventure.

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Chimichanga: a spot of sunshine for a chilli, cheesy Christmas

Chimichanga: Unit 4 Xscape MK, 602 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK9 3XA
Nothing like Mexican food on pre-Christmas Eve in chav-central, is there? Fortunately, Chimichanga in Xscape makes you forget all that. The staff at Chimichanga’s are from everywhere but Mexico but are friendly, pleasant and efficient in seating and providing you with menus. Our waitress also very kindly turned down the air conditioning unit so we didn’t freeze. The menu is wide ranging, though fairly stereotypical British-Mexican, including calamari, chicken wings and potato skins for starters, along with the more special chilli foccacia or pastry stuffed with chorizo and cheese. Mains include the classic burritos, fajitas, toastadas and tacos but also salads, paella, steaks and grilled fish, burgers and wraps.
To start, we shared the nachos with salsa and guacamole. While supposedly for one person, it was a generous portion and we fought our way through the little mountains of nachos. The salsa was spicy and chunky, the guacamole cool and creamy, though both came in less than adequate portions for the number of nachos.
The main course of chicken fajitas are some of the best chain Mexican food I’ve had. Served on a fiery slate skillet, tender strips of chargrilled chicken are accompanied with peppers and onions, all cooked perfectly. A stack of pillowy tortillas sat in the middle of the table, along with palm-size pots of salsa, guacamole and sour cream. All were delicious, especially together!
The dessert was less impressive. Coconut cream pie actually turned out to be a rather synthetic-looking coconut cheesecake, not the “silky coconut cream set in a biscuit crunchy shell” as the menu had promised. The biscuit base was chewy as opposed to crunchy and the only coconut we could taste was from the coconut shards on top. Not worth trying and certainly not worth £5.25.
Chimichanga’s main courses are value for money but by the time you’ve added starters, dessert (well, maybe) and drinks, you might find yourself questioning whether it was worth the price staring up at you from your bill. For the mains, I’d say it was. It doesn’t match up to some of the higher end Mexican or street food that you can fin (Chimichanga’s is blander and more predictable) but it’s a wonderfully casual, fresh and friendly place to enjoy and generous plate of food.
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to market, to market! a cry for street food lovers

Mexican: Camden Market, London

I love Camden Market. I love its vibrancy, how my scene thrives and its fantastic variety. The area of Camden itself, including the market, is a haven of culture and style for all scenes and for foodies, it is no different.

The markets are spotted with street food stalls from freshly squeezed orange juice to Polish hot dogs, slabs of Pizza to daintily decorated cupcakes and from Mexican faijtas to all-you-can eat Chinese’s.

Today, I share with you one of my favourite Mexican stalls. There are several in Camden that serve pretty much the same menu compromising burritos, fajitas and rice/chilli bowls. The prices, again, are pretty similar though the quality of food varies a little. This stall has always looked the freshest, the friendliest and, the determining factor, the most popular!

This particular stall can be found on Chalk Farm Road/Camden High Street, the far side of the bridge if you are approaching from Camden Town Tube Station and just before the railway bridge on the right hand side. It’s especially good because of its location; it is more open than the Lock Market stalls and often a little quieter and to boot, the scooter seats are pretty cool – if you can get a roughed up scooter by the canal, clutching your polystyrene box bursting with food, consider yourself triumphant!

My fajita was prepared by toasting a large tortilla on a smoking griddle. It was smeared with a tricolore of sour cream, tomato salsa and guacamole. The sauces looked a little wet consistency wise and didn’t hold together when I started eating but the taste was definitely there. Chicken and peppers, tossed in spicy seasoning, were piled in next before a sprinkle of cheese finished it off. The chicken was succulent, the peppers breaking from the wrap in thick strips. I asked for added jalapenos and these were sweet, hot and juicy – a great addition! You also have the option to add salad, beans and extra salsas if you so wish. Drinks were expensive though, despite the location, at £1 for a small can.

The lettuce was sweet and crunchy, despite sitting out waiting on the stall. The wrap was too full to pick up and eat – for me anyway – but was great to dig in to with a fork and useless plastic knife. The cheese was just enough to add a touch of flavour without undermining the spiciness or ruining the coolness of the sour cream. My one complaint would be that as you went further through the food, the flavours began to mingle and merge too much, making it bland and a little mushy.

For £5 it was a substantial portion and very filling. You have to consider the prices of Camden market in general and the street food is often a little more expensive than one would consider paying usually but it is a tourist hot-spot so don’t be put off – but don’t think higher prices mean better quality either. Make sure to have a good look around before choosing where to try.

Some of my other favourites:

  1. The freshly squeezed orange juice stall in Camden Lock Place- one of a couple of stalls, this one seems to have irregular hours but is always top on quality
  2. Paella by the canal in the West Yard of the Lock Market – served from a huge pan, this dish is colourful, sizzling and always makes me hungry
  3. Garlic bread from Benjamin’s Cafe just after the main Camden Market on your right hand side (if walking towards the bridge) – served in thick slices that make up in flavour what they lack in expected grease
  4. Cupcakes – for a sweet fix head to the square by the steps in the Stables Market (easiest accessed via the arch on Chalk Farm Road after the bridge) and choose from exquisitely decorated cupcakes with light icing. Expensive but delicious.

Keep checking back here for more street food reviews and stalls

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