Words & Photos: @oliverinstead
Mexican has always been one of my favourite cuisines. Burritos, tostadas, guacamole, quesadillas, tacos, even some of the Tex-Mex stuff… you name it, I love it – in fact, it’s among my top three alongside Japanese and duh, Malaysian. So when I received an invitation to the VIP-only media night at Chilango, the newest burrito joint and possibly the most exciting in Manchester, I flipped.
We arrived at the restaurant and were soon greeted by Erik Partaker, the co-founder of the successful chain with 10 London restaurants under their belt. He briefly introduced us to the brand and sat us down to some fresh-out-the-oven vegetarian nachos – yum…
If you read one of my previous reviews (here), you’d know that I love avocado and instantly I could taste the quality of the fruits that go into making the refreshing guacamole. Despite the nachos being meat-free, I was half stuffed after two mouthfuls. Little did I know, that was only the entrée…
The food – 10/10
Everything is cooked on the premises, in their shiny £80,000 kitchen (no, I didn’t type one too many 0) except the beans which are done in an industrial pressure cooker at a centralised location, but don’t let that put you off, they’re delicious. I got to have an one-on-one burrito master class with the resident food expert, Carlos who lives and breathes Mexican food. To go with the beans, I chose the chunky prawns as my protein among many other add-ons amounting to one humongous burrito.
Sauce-wise, the Seven Brothers sauce is a must-try not only because it’s exclusive to the Manchester restaurant but it’s also very tasty – slightly tangy but not overpowering. It practically made my burrito, and ‘wrapped’ all the flavours together. Pun fully intended.
The service – N/A
There was no service that evening but still I could sense that the staff are a bunch of genuinely nice people. According to the team, every member was carefully selected for their personality and it was obvious that they gel very much like a family.
The vibe – 10/10
As Eric very accurately put, it’s vibrant. It lifts the mood up. Not unlike the other burrito bars, the decor in parts is modern but it also features some unusual Mexican details like the indoor shrine in the wall that is commonplace in Mexico as well as the colourful lucha libre mural smacked across an entire wall.
Since the restaurant had yet to open for business, I didn’t get to enjoy the true feel of what it would be like during normal service hours but from what I could see of the place, it definitely sets itself apart from the competition, in an authentically tasteful way.
I didn’t want to give it a full mark but it would be unjust to score Chilango any less. My love for Mexican food may suggest I’m biased but I also pride myself on my honesty in my reviews and I have had burrito that was absolutely vile (in Singapore) so there’s that.
There are so many burrito places in town that one is spoilt for choice, but what makes Chilango stand out is definitely the sheer quality it delivers for what I think is an exceptionally reasonable price range. It’s a well-run business with a well thought out concept and I wish they do well in the city. If you’re in Manchester, don’t forget to pop in to the restaurant on Oxford Street and say hi to the team. Check out their website here.
P/S Chilango officially opens today and they’re giving out free samples so why not get yourself down there and grab a burrito on the house?