142 Fleet Street
When Chilango launched back in October 2008, the Mexican haunt gave away free burritos one Friday to lure customers in. There wasn’t really any need for cajoling on Chilango’s part though, as a queue formed down Fleet Street that didn’t dwindle until the place actually run out of burritos somewhere around 9pm.
The giveaway got Chilango noticed (with around 250 burritos flying out of the door every hour), and on the night we dropped in for some Mexican nourishment, there was a regular stream of custom. Owners Eric Partaker and Dan Houghton did a fair bit of diligent research before opening Chilango, largely in the shape of eating their way around Mexico with a side order of tequila.
Their first Mexican opening was Mucho Mas in Islington – a little rougher around the edges in terms of décor, but a big hit with the locals on the Mexican food front. Chilango is a more polished affair with its bright lime green walls and hot pink seating, but by no means compromises on flavour. The menu keeps things simple with burritos, tacos and salads on offer, stuffed either with shredded pork, grilled steak, marinated chicken or a veggie pepper & onion mix. Everything is naturally accessorised with a choice of black beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole, so nothing unpredictable there. What is surprising, is the level of detail and love that’s gone into the food at Chilango. The pork is slow cooked sous-vide style, the chicken is marinated overnight, and the coarse, handmade guacamole is mashed up throughout the day, so everything’s fresh on the go.
We tried, well, everything on the menu, with the pork and steak burritos winning hands down. The chicken wasn’t quite seasoned enough for our palettes, but the pork was deliciously succulent and lean, whilst the steak burrito packed the gutsy Mexican punch you’d expect it to. The ‘Chilango’ salsa delivered a decent kick too, with its mix of chipotle and birds eye chillies. A great thing about the burritos here, is the contents of them – the thin tortilla wraps everything up as it should do, but doesn’t bulk out the burrito too much, so your stomach has room for all the great tasting spiced meat, lime rice, beans and salsa stuffed inside it. They’re not shy with their portion sizes either, but you get a lot of decent food rather than pure stodge – a refreshing find, when your bear in mind other Mexican places in London.
Chilango’s burritos are priced between £4.90 & £5.90, all of which can be washed down with a bottle of Modelo Especial beer, or a seriously refreshing pomegranite Mexican cooler. There’s room for expansion with Chilango’s menu, but with food this good, there’s no big rush to change something that already works well. Even if you don’t frequent Fleet Street and its surrounding area all too often, their burritos are actually worth the hike.
Chilango: 142 Fleet Street, London, EC4A 2BP. Tel: 020 7353 6761.
Reviewer: Helenka Bednar