Chilango

I used to work in a pretty culinary-forsaken corner of London called Holloway. Apart from the few excellent – and cheap – Turkish restaurants and bakeries, it was a sea of scary looking greasy spoon caffs. Because of this (and the generally grotty feeling after eating kebabs and greasy gozleme every day) I often found myself trekking down to Upper Street in Angel for something different.

Favourites spots included the miniscule Pho Express (not least because of the free parking before 1pm) and Ottolenghi when I was feeling flush. Best of the bunch though, was Chilango, the burrito bar across the road from the station. I was therefore happy to see a branch opening on Brushfield St just before the new year, right outside my new office.

Looking for something a bit lighter, I decided to go for their salad option – basically the same filling you would get in the burrito, but with lettuce instead of the rice and tortilla. I’ll talk about the food first, before I begin my rant. The steak, despite sitting in a holding-temp container, retained a juicy medium-rare texture and had a nice spicy marinade on it. Black beans and salsa were also nice, but nothing out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, this branch doesn’t sell the braised pork which is a huge shame as it’s the best flavour. All pretty tasty though.

The ordering system is the usual conveyor style, shuffle-along type, pointing at things you want. The standard price for the burrito/salad/taco is £6.70 – already expensive I think, considering the main bulk is rice/salad and beans. An extra (tiny) scoop of your chosen meat is an extra £2.50, and worst of all, it’s an extra 60p for some salsa and a pound for a smear of guacamole. Shouldn’t these things be standard in a Mexican restaurant? Without really paying attention, nor having the costs explained as I picked things, I ended up spending over a tenner on this average sized box of salad. I was well and truly wallet-raped.

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It was very good, but these little charges here and there left a sour taste in the mouth, and I can’t say I will be eating here often as it definitely isn’t worth the money – especially considering the Poncho 8 branch 5 seconds away, serving up almost identical food at a much more reasonable price.

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