The venue formerly known as Mucho Mas gets a bright, vibrant makeover. Chilango, step into the ring…
Whereas the decor of Mucho Mas was much more muted, the rebranding as Chilango follows the look of the Fleet Street venue with splashes of colour, colour and more colour. Giant lollipop style flowers crawl up the wall by the entrance and white glossy benches provide seating for a quick lunch. When not white or pale grey, colours are either neon blue, orange, pink, yellow or green.
A bright green spiral staircase leads upstairs to more seating, mainly colourful tables of four with white plastic seats. A couple of painted over fireplaces hold napkins and bottles of hot sauce, and framed T-shirts decorate the walls. Huge photos of luchadores (Mexican wrestlers, one of Chilango’s favourite subjects besides burritos) and plastic luchador dolls hang opposite the framed T-shirts. The loos, down in the basement, are worth a look too, particularly the women’s which is scrawled with drawings of a Day of the Dead style skeleton ad Frida Kahlo in all her unibrowed glory.
Although this is a casual place, the tables upstairs allow you to linger with friends a bit longer than the benches on the ground floor. There’s no service, as such, as you order and pay at the counter where the burritos are made, then take your tray to your seat, but every so often a member of staff will come by to check that everything’s ok. There’s a strong takeaway trade, but it’s about even with the number of people who conquer their burritos with only a book for company, or head up the stairs with their friends in tow.
Burritos are the main draw here but other offers include tacos, salads and naked burritos, which are the whole concoction, minus the tortilla wrap. Order off the menu hanging on the wall and the burrito is made in front of you, assembly line style. Prices vary by a pound or two but the most expensive item on the menu is still under £6 – considering the amount of food that can be stuffed into one of the wraps, you can order a veritable feast and still get change from a tenner.
Filling options include chicken, steak, pork and a veggie-friendly mix of red and green peppers and red onions. The pork is excellent, really soft and succulent, whilst the veggie option is surprisingly good too, fresh tasting, slightly spicy and not too oily. It would be nice to see a few other options though, especially for those who aren’t fans of meat – prawns would work well, especially with the lime and coriander rice.
A choice of beans follow – chewy black beans or creamy pinto beans – along with the options of salsa: mild pico de gallo, which is a mix of chopped tomatoes and onions; medium, made with roasted tomatoes; and Chilango, a vibrant green hot salsa. From there you can choose sour cream or cheese, plus guacamole – although this costs a bit extra, it’s standard practice in terms of burritos.
Sides – or extras – include chips with guacamole, chips with salsa, or totopos, which are basically a nicer version of nachos for about £5. These come piled with nearly every choice of topping – be sure to dip into the guacamole, which is thick and sweet, with big chunks of avocado.
A few types of bottled beers are on offer, such as Corona, for about £3, but the real draw, alcohol-wise, are the margaritas (£3.95), which come straight from a churning Jose Cuervo machine by the tills. These are obviously pre-mixed, so there’s no top cocktail bar-style subtlety of flavours here, just the intensely sweet and sour flavour of a regular margarita. It comes served in a neon pink plastic cup which seems a bit dinky – a larger size option would be a great addition for those looking to soak up as much of their burrito as possible. Non-alcoholic options include bottled Chegworth Valley juices.
The Last Word
If you’re looking for a filling burrito – or just need some cheering up – shiny, happy Chilango is a definite contender.