Tuesday, 9 November 2010

london burrito bars

The rise of the burrito bar in London has been slow but stealthy over the past few years and a rash of them has been spreading over the capital. Although I'm late in celebrating it I'm enjoying this Cali-Mexican inspired fast food revolution not least of which because there's finally something for the veggies to enjoy. I'm also trying to convince myself that the blend of roasted peppers, coriander rice, beans and salsas isn't wildly unhealthy although add lashings of sour cream, guacamole and cheese and the sheer size of the things and I think I can assure myself that they are not waistline friendly.

Anyway, the reason I've held off for so long, apart from not being able to get any decent images of the tasty sloppiness, is that last night I finally visited Benito's Hat who have a new-ish branch in Covent Garden and my word, it was good. See the thing is that the quality can be variable - with no love in the ingredients the flavour suffers. Witness the poor attempt from the new Daddy Donkey stall this weekend which was a flavourless and over-hot mass of white rice, beans and sour cream. A serious lack of love, Mr LROC informs me that his braised pork version was better.

Similarly disappointing was the offering from Chipotle, an American chain import with an outlet on Charing Cross road. The store itself had a bland corporate interior, the burrito was good enough, but for a store named after a flavoursome smokey chilli, to not offer anything with actual Chipotle in, not a marinade, not a salsa, was beyond disappointing. The staff didn't even seem to know what it was.

Meanwhile, my personal favourites include Chilangos on Upper Street, whose marinated peppers are delicious and customer service are top notch, taking time to reply to comment cards personally. I also love their colourful and engaging interior - it feels like Mexican food when you're surrounding by vibrant images of 'the DF' and listening to their upbeat tunes.

Another special mention goes to Benito's Hat - having tried them yesterday I have to say I think they're the pick of the bunch. Fresh and tasty ingredients, friendly staff, a great atmosphere and the most tasty guacamole ever. The good news is that I might be a little closer to their Goodge Street branch more often, the bad news is that I don't think it's going to help with the diet.

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