With friends down from Liverpool, i figured a busy and chilly Saturday lunchtime would be a good time to road test the Islington branch of Chilango, which celebrates its first birthday next month.
I was a fan of owners Eric Partaker & Dan Houghton's first ventue into the London burrito market - Mucho Mas - which opened on the same site in late '06, but the decor was under-whelming, the service hit and miss, and the soda wasn't refillable. As soon as Tortilla opened down the road, i jumped ship.
Eleven months into its rebrand, Chilango seems to have attracted a loyal clientele, judging by the healthy queue for food today. As a restaurant it's certainly a much nicer place to eat than its predecessor , and considerably easier on the eye,having been given a colourful but clean makeover by design agency 'I Am' .
I opted for the chicken burrito (one size only interestingly) which was tender and nicely marinated. There was no choice of rice but the option of pinto or black beans (i chose black) plus a nice chunky salsa, a dash of hot salsa, lettuce and sour cream. The whole thing was topped off with refillable fountain soda - result.
My friends went for the steak and were impressed with the size and taste. However unusually for a Mexican kitchen, the veggie option was probably the most impressive, loaded with guacamole and peppers...so much so they had to replace the tortilla midway through being built as there was too much food in there. This is a definite plus in Chilango's favour, as its the pretty clientele, but that's another story...
The merits of Chilango vs Tortilla deserve a blog post of their own in the future, but both operators seem to have raised their game considerably in the last six months which is good news for anyone lusting after good burritos. Speaking of which, here's Chilango co-founder Eric Parkaker on BBC's Saturday kitchen showing you the secret of how to make a good burrito (as any burrito geek knows, it's all in the folding!)