Learning to love the burrito at Chilango

10 Feb

Chilango on Islington's Upper Street

There’s something I have to admit. I’m a burrito virgin. Or at least I was, before I stepped past the brightly coloured, glassy exterior of Chilango’s Angel branch for my first taste. It’s something about the bulking ooziness of the burrito which has always made me opt for its quesadilla counterpart instead. But no more, dear burrito loving friends. I have now been officially initiated into the Chilango club.

While placing my order, faced with a rather intimidating list of options (how much can you fit in a burrito?), I had an awful thought that this might end up like a visit to Subway. Do you want this sauce? Um, yeah ok. What bread do you want? Um, any. But luckily, it was nothing like it. Here’s some guidance for those who don’t yet know the ropes:

First: choose your carbs/ pulses. There’s rice, black beans or pinto beans. No refried beans at this establishment, James May will be glad to know.

Second: choose your filling. Chicken, beef or veg?

Third: any peppers, cheese, salsa etc?

Fourth: which sauce would you like; mild, medium or hot? And this is the tricky bit. Not shy of a bit of spice I went for the medium and my nose was running ten minutes in, so be warned.

Fifth: if you want guacamole, that’s an extra pound. That may seem steep, but after briefly interrogating the lively deputy manager, Alan, I was reassured that if you want the best avocado, imported from Mexico don’t-you-know, then the extra pound is well worth it.

And it was. I felt rather intimidated once perched on my stool facing my seemingly giant burrito, neatly placed in a basket with Chilango wrapping paper. Behind me I could hear Alan’s unwavering friendly dialogue, “Any drinks, chips or salsas today guys?” I soon learned that there’s a reason it’s wrapped in tin foil and it’s best to keep the bottom of the burrito enveloped in it. I went for a grilled chicken burrito with medium spice, peppers, sour cream, salsa, cheese, coriander-lime rice and guacamole. I can’t remember the last time I tasted something with so much flavour. If only I hadn’t been rushed to make a meeting half an hour later, self-consciously picking coriander out of my teeth, I might have had more time to enjoy the tortilla creation. Every bit of it was delicious, and every flavour came through. I would advise potential Chilango-goers to pay the extra for the guacamole; it was sublime. I could have eaten it on its own, with a spoon. On that note, I found I could have done with some cutlery once or twice to scoop out my burrito’s delicious innards. In the end, I admit, I had no time to finish and the bottom of the burrito was left in a sorry state, ripped to pieces at the bottom of the basket.

What it's all about: the mighty burrito

If you’re looking for a restaurant where you can take your time over your meal while reading the paper and making a to-do list, this ain’t your place. Similarly, perhaps not best if you’re after a dimly lit, romantic scene, although that hasn’t stopped Richard Fitzgerald using Chilango as the scene for his 52 burrito dates.

What Chilango is great for is speedy, delicious Mexican food in a friendly, trendy setting. You can sit comfortably at the high counters alongside relaxed shoppers and office workers grabbing their lunch on the hoof. My burrito cost £6.70 but was enough to feed me for lunch and dinner. I would advise you to miss the morning snack before visiting. Chilango has been around for two years and now has five branches across the UK; three in London. For lovers of Mexican cuisine Chilango is exciting for its modern take on the food, a world away from Tex Mex. And for those who still think Mexican food is ‘refried sick’, get down to Chilango, they’ll prove you wrong.

Image 1: My own

Image 2: NekoJoe

Image 3: Esquire


2 Responses to “Learning to love the burrito at Chilango”

  1. Eddy February 11, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Chilango’s is ok but Daddy Donkey located at Leather Lane Market and Brick Lane is out of this world! Bigger Burritos, tastier and almost a pound cheaper than the rather expensive Chilangos…..I mean come on, no Burrito is worth £6.70!!!

    • katielinsell February 11, 2011 at 10:20 am #

      They get even bigger? Thanks for that Eddy; I’ll check it out and let you know my verdict. Keep the suggestions coming people.

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