When it comes to favourite foods, mine has to be Mexican cuisine. I adore the blend of flavour and heat. A pot of homemade guacamole, accompanied by a gluttonous tower of nachos and fresh salsa, is my ultimate foodie treat.
In fact, I have a rather embarrassing confession to make. On mine and Adams very first date, we went to Manchester for a bite to eat and the inevitable, awkward few hours of chit chat that first dates often bring. I ordered beef brisket and Adam ordered his first ever plate of nachos. Not only did I eat all of my food, but over the course of our evening, managed to eat most of Adams nachos too. Classy eh?
When Chilango invited me along for a VIP burrito night at their brand new restaurant in Manchester, I was excited to see what they had to offer. Knowing that Adam is also a big fan of Mexican food, I dragged him along too!
The only Mexican restaurant that I’ve ever really fallen in love with is based in Edinburgh, which I stumbled across during one of my trips to the Fringe Festival. Sadly, it’s about 200 miles too far away for me to visit very often, so I have been waiting for something more local to come along.
We found Chilagos new home at 50 Oxford Street, Manchester with ease. Upon arrival, the decor immediately caught my eye. With custom graffiti walls, a neon shrine and various other artwork, the nod to Chilangos vibrant, Hispanic-inspired roots was clear to see.
Adam and I tucked into the huge pile of nachos on our table. The first thing we both commented on was the guacamole. Made by hand, with fresh batches produced on site every couple of hours, I can honestly say that it was the best I have ever tasted! A bold statement but true. We also quickly become fans of the Seven Brothers sauce – made with real beer – that complimented our bottles of Seven Brothers ale perfectly. I love that Chilango have brought a local, Mancunian based company on board with them in this new venture.
We also got the opportunity to enjoy a drink with Chilango co-founder, Eric Partaker and food quality manager, Luis Castro.
Eric grew up in Chicago where he fell in love with both Mexican food and the hospitality industry. He grew up on the stuff, in one of the largest Hispanic communities in America. Eric helped pay his way through school with various restaurant and bar jobs and graduated from the University of Illinois with a Finance degree in 1999. Before Chilango, Eric worked together with fellow co-founder Dan Houghton at Skype in London – a pair of passionate entrepreneurs who had an idea. In 2007, Eric and Dan launched their first restaurant in Islington, London and the rest is history!
Luis hails from sunny California and attended the University of California at Santa Barbara. He joined Chilango just 3 months after the first restaurant opened and has been responsible for sourcing the stampede of Mexican flavours ever since. Luis has worked with food all his life – from his very first job working with a fruit and veg retailer to working with dairy farmers, and then food quality assurance and food manufacturing.
The genuine excitement and passion that these guys have for Chilango shone through when they speak about the brand. I asked Eric why he had chosen my beloved Manchester for his next project. Eric told me that it was the vibrancy and variety of the city that first drew them here. They were both fabulous company, happily answering my questions along with a little general chit chat – I’m excited to see what the future holds for them.
Adam and I then created our very own signature burritos, with a little help from the talented head chef, Carlos and other lovely team members. Each and every one of these guys was incredibly knowledgeable and more importantly, fun!
We began by toasting our tortilla wrap. After filling it with a little rice, we then had a big decision to make. The backbone of the burrito – the meat! We were given a choice of pork belly, prawns, chicken or steak. All cooked to perfection in their own unique mix of herbs and spices, I went for chicken and steak, whilst Adam opted for prawn.
Next, the team helped us create the perfect combination, advising us on what would compliment our meat. We were talked through all of the ingredients and I was surprised at the amount of attention that went into each product, all freshly made. I went on to fill the rest of my burrito with black beans, lettuce, cheese, guacamole, sour cream and of course, the Seven Brothers sauce.
I was unsure of how to eat this bad boy, so abandoned my manners and tucked right in with both hands. No cutlery required for me! The food was so good that we are actually going to visit Chilango again next week. Uh-oh…
We were treated to a bucket of bottled beers and the mammoth ‘Lagerita’ (pictured below) along with a good selection of soft drinks. Perfect for a boozy evening with friends! Alongside the legendary burritos, they also offer a range of nudos, tacos, nachos and salads, to eat in or take away.
The Oxford Street branch is the only one outside of London for these guys right now, however, Chilango will most definitely be expanding within Manchester soon. I’m not allowed to say much more about these plans on here but keep your eyes peeled!
Chilango opens to the public today (22/04/15) and will be giving away free burritos from 12 – 8pm to celebrate. Yes, you heard me. FREE FOOD. What are you waiting for?!