A wise owl once wrote, ‘HIPY PAPY BTHETHDDTHNTHUTHDA BTHUTHDY’, explaining that this meant, ‘A Happy Birthday With Love From Pooh’. And it was birthdays and owls which lead me to Chilango, the burrito joint which has had more recommendations than OJ’s lawyer.

To be specific, it was @Wowser’s birthday. Although he insists he’s not an owl, and in real life has arms and legs and stuff, when he tweets things like ‘I am having a haircut,’ I still can’t help imagining a small feathered bird with its poky feet sticking straight out from a barber’s chair, having its feathers trimmed.

So for the purposes of this blog, an owl was having a birthday, and he wanted a burrito for dinner. Along for the ride were @Themanwhofell, @MandrewB, @TheAzzo and some absolutely torrential rain.

I’d already been to Chilango previously, on a date with @Fitzyrichard for his 52 Burrito Dates blog. Despite the presence of a mariachi band on that occasion – inexplicably billed as a ‘special treat’ – I remembered that through my red-faced agony, the burritos were actually delicious, so I’d saved this one till almost-last.*

Like most burrito joints, the decorative theme was ‘early 90s fluoro legging,’ with orange and lime green being the predominant colours. It was airy and modern with bench seating downstairs and tables upstairs and it was crammed with lots and lots of people. Although maybe that had something to do with the monsoon season that seemed to have descended on Islington.

I had the usual (chicken, black beans, yada yada), for £6.30, and a limitless soft drink for £1.60 (Diet Coke – although with burritos coming in at about 800-1,000 calories a pop, having diet anything is a futile nod towards robust health).

I usually eat my burritos alone, so it was nice to have someone to talk to and to see debris gradually piling up in the centre of the table. Although the friendly birthday chit-chat and laughter meant I didn’t focus on the actual burrito as closely as usual. Damn the merriment’s very eyes!

Look, no beak!

I suspect, however, that whatever the situation, a Chilango burrito is a good burrito: nay, a great burrito. It was huge, thanks to the double scoop of great-tasting chicken heaped onto the tortilla by my burrista, with lovely flavour and not a hint of dryness.

Because it was so podgy and squodgy and fat, there wasn’t much tortilla overlap, which can get tedious if you’re in it for the filling (fnar). The rice and beans were well-cooked, the ingredients were evenly distributed, and the whole thing was a proper juicy treat. KABLOOEY!

I was also delighted to note that they offered TWO types of hot sauce: the ubiquitous wooden-topped Cholula, and Chilango’s own Habanero sauce, which I was disproportionately impressed by. One day, I will have my own hot sauce, so help me.  With my face on the label, like Paul Newman.

Just out of shot: Mullies' Own Hot Stuff

Obviously, this blog is only my opinion, so I asked the others what they thought of their burritos. Their verdicts are as follows:

@Wowser: “The rice should be long grain, not basmati. But I liked the mildly flirtatious service.”

@TheAzzo: “The salsa verde isn’t nearly verde enough. And the pork isn’t as good as Benito’s Hat.” **

@MandrewB: “It’s fine”

@themanwhofell: “I enjoyed it.”

More than anything, this proves that you should be grateful it’s me writing this blog, because I couldn’t get much more than that out of them. And none of them said anything interesting about fluoro leggings or monsoons or owls.

Happy birthday, Wowser.

Mood before: Like a nervous lover about to ride a man-stallion

Mood after: *Smiles smugly, smokes fag*

Ratings: Food: 8/10, Ambience: 8/10, Staff: 7/10 (the flirtation didn’t work on me, but the double helping of chicken did), Value: 8/10

Where: 27 Upper Street, Islington; 142 Fleet Street; 76 Chancery Lane. Also, Bluewater in Kent and Meadowhall in Sheffield. Opening times vary, but the Islington branch is seven days a week.

Closest tube: Angel, Blackfriars, Chancery Lane, grown-up trains to Kent and Sheffield.

Web: Find them here / @Chilango_UK

Recommended?: Yes, especially if it is an owl’s birthday and it’s raining.

*I’m running out of burrito joints which are either near work or open evenings / weekends – I’ll be taking a couple of days off soon to visit some of the places that only open 11am-3pm on weekdays. And to stock up on stretchy trousers.

**There followed a debate about pork vs chicken which I settled myself by going back to Benito’s Hat a few days later and having a pork burrito. It was as uninspiring as their chicken ones, but at least I’m thorough.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Wowser on August 5, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I think I meant short grain, not long grain, but basically: not basmati.


  2. not gonna lie. I LOVE reading your page in cosmo 🙂 x


  3. Posted by babooshka on December 25, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Chilango the best… love the jolly welcome, excellent food.

    My lone quibble from frequent visits is that often (particularly in the heat of the full-on lunchtime operation to move the burrito seeking masses back onto the street in double quick time) the burrito is not actually folded up with sufficient care to prevent it falling apart at the seems.

    The task of then doing it yourself is apparently impossible; push it back together and it only flops apart even further. I think every burrito has just one moment of ripeness in which it is willing to be bent to the burrista’s will. Alas too often this moment is lost and there is guacamole (which also rocks) everwhere.

    Great blog!


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