Chilango

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.

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Poncho No 8

In the guest blog written by Gary Bainbridge I posted here yesterday, I pointed out that I’m currently a poor little church mouse who can’t afford any cheese, let alone the tortilla wrap, rice, beans and meat to go with it.

But then I had a very bad day indeed, which I spent grumping about the place like a frowny rain cloud, and decided I needed cheering up. And that, of course, means food. Yum yum yum.

Last week, I went to the opening night of the new Soho branch of Poncho No 8, after emailing them about my extremely important blog and blagging an invite (nothing to do with me working for Cosmo, I’m sure). An eager crowd of foodie liggers were served extremely promising mini burritos and delicious frozen margheritas, and I couldn’t wait to go back.

DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM? Oh, you do. Oh…I’ll just sit over here then.

The interior is modern and minimalist, and although I favour the fake-cactus-and-sombrero style of burrito-joint decor, there was a soothing lime-green-and-orange thing going on instead, which got my vote by reminding me of my favourite flavour of tic tacs.

Service was a bit slow, which was understandable seeing as the burrista was probably all shiny and new, although he lost points by calling the guacamole ‘guac’, which is a pet hate of mine. I know four syllables is a bit of a drag, but it’s not your Uncle Guac. 

There was a choice of red (tomato?) and lime rice, and the black beans had red chillis mixed in, which was an unusual touch I haven’t seen before.

My burrito was a little on the small side, which meant it suffered a surfeit of wrap-to-filling, but the wrap was interestingly chewy (it started off being annoyingly chewy, but once I got used to it I decided I quite liked it), so all was forgiven.

It cost £6.10, although I’m sure if I’d revealed my true identity it would have been free, and they’d have carried me upstairs to the dining area on their shoulders.

It had a few things wrong with it – too cold (probably because of the Beginner Burrista Effect, which meant it took about 5,000 years to wrap), under-spiced, and slightly dry with al dente beans that got on my nerves a bit. I also accidentally chewed a piece of tin foil, but I’m not going to blame anyone but myself for that one.

However, despite these individual flaws, the whole managed to be greater than the sum of its parts. The chicken was full of flavour and nicely crispy, the rice was fluffy and tasty, and the tables had little bowls of lime slices you could squeeze onto each bite which worked brilliantly, lifting the whole thing above the norm.

An al dente burrito, yesterday

I’d liked to have seen some bottles of hot sauce on the tables, too, but maybe I’m just going to have to start bumping up my chosen salsa to Defcon Three when it comes to ordering, because lots of the burritos I’ve reviewed so far haven’t been spicy enough for a double-hard bastard like me.

All in all, my sojurn was a successful one, although not quite successful enough to turn my really quite spectacular frown upside-down.

Mood before: WAHHHHH!

Mood after: *Burp*. WAHHHHH!

Rating: Food 7/10, Ambience 7/10, Staff 6/10 (but they’re all new, bless ’em), Value: 6/10

Where: 11 Queen’s Head Passage, St Paul’s;  5 Steward St, Spitalfields.

Closest Tube: St Paul’s, Liverpool St.

Web: Here / @ponchono8

Recommended?: If you’re looking for burritos in Soho, this is your best bet.

UPDATE THE FIRST: Onwards and upwards (and, in the case of my stomach, outwards)

Despite Poncho No 8’s sterling work, I have grown to hate its chirpy green sign and proximity to my office. As the small early-days teething-creases have been ironed out, these burritos have grown in might and stature, and I have become ADDICTED, DAMMIT.

The worst (best) thing about the place, apart from the basic darn deliciousness of its burritos, is that they do tiny mini burritos for £2.10, which are perfect for luring innocent souls like me in, thinking, ‘I’ll just have a taste. Just a nibble.’ Then you eat one, dribble everywhere, and order a large immediately. Bad, BAD Poncho No 8.

In addition, they have now started putting this amazingly bright-green sauce on the tables. It is both delicious and a great colour. Look how happy it’s making @emily_nia!

“I LOVE GREEN SAUCE! AND DOGS!”

In view of all this, I have decided to upgrade Poncho’s rating to 8/10. Good work, burrito soldiers!

UPDATE THE SECOND: The Soho branch of Poncho No 8 has sadly closed (not through lack of appreciatiation of their deliciousness, I am assured, but because of An Offer They Couldn’t Refuse), but I’m sure the other branches are nice too.

Guest post: Barburrito

When Liverpool Daily Post Columnist Supremo Gary Bainbridge mentioned on Twitter that he was going to Barburrito in Liverpool, I made him tell me all about it. Then I made him let me post his tellings here, because I can’t afford burritos at the moment, and this is a cheap way of updating the blog. There are also branches of Barburrito in Leeds and Manchester, if you’re that way inclined.
 
I walked into Barburitto through a sea of sappy young things with tight T-shirts and pouting breasts. And the women wore equally skimpy outfits. It was warm, and I was wearing a suit. I felt precisely like Ed Rooney as he searched for Ferris Bueller in that arcade.
 
The set-up was just like Subway, if Subway had got out of the Meatball Marinara/overpoweringly be-oreganoed extended roll game and got into burritos.
 
I asked the nice man behind the counter for a burrito. He reacted, to his credit, as if this were a common occurrence, and asked me which meat I would like. Although it was impressive to see the marinated chicken breasts being grilled BEFORE MY VERY EYES I fancied the pulled pork, if only because it sounded funny.
 
I was surprised to be charged extra for peppers and onions and guacamole. I know little of the ways of burritos, but from what I have gleaned by reading Mullies’ Burrito Blog, it is like going into McDonald’s and being charged for the optional bottom half of the bun*. Then he asked which of the four levels of heat I required from a chilli sauce. I had no idea because I had never been there before, but I went for level 3, the chipotle.
 
He then slid the burrito over to another man. As far as he was concerned, I was history. Man number two asked me if I wanted cheese and sour cream. I said yes to the former, and pulled an ‘Ugh’ face to the latter. ‘No, thank you,’ I said. I do not like cream. This is on record. I am not keen on milk, either, but I have it in tea. And what I do know about milk is that sour milk is a terrible thing. So why the hell I would think sour cream is a good thing is beyond my limited dairy-based comprehension.
 
Man number two wrapped up my burrito niftily in a foil-like wrapper  – by the way, this was the worst thing about the burrito. I had to leave half of it – and I sat down with my burrito and a refreshing cardboard cup of fat Pepsi. I bit into my burrito… and…
It was quite nice.
 
Moist without being sloppy. Not particularly spicy, but there were six thousand bottles of Tabasco about the place. The lime and coriander rice was pleasant. The guacamole was first rate. I was halfway down the burrito before I realised I hadn’t tasted any pork, but there was some stuck in my teeth, so I must have eaten some.
 

The greatest picture of a burrito ever taken. If it is, indeed, a burrito.

I will have another one somewhere else, now that I have a frame of reference.
 
I am now burping peppers and onion.
 
*Ed’s note: Gary’s rookie mistake here is that onions and peppers are what you have instead of beans and rice if you want a fajita rather than a burrito, hence the extra charge. Technically, what Gary had was a Fajitto, but let’s not be pernickity.

Freebird Burritos

It was lunchtime on a Friday afternoon, and it had been days – literally DAYS – since my last burrito. I was pining for the promise of meaty, ricey goodness, tenderly wrapped in silver foil like a tasty baby robot being tucked into bed.

I only had my lunch hour to find one, so like an addict desperate for a hit –  any hit, from anywhere – I decided to go to Wrap It Up!, which is a three-minute walk from work and sells burritos for a mere £3.

Then I remembered why their burritos are only £3 and decided that, it being Friday – a happy day, a noble day – today wouldn’t be the day I’d subject myself to that particular horror again, even if I’ll have to eventually for this blog.

Instead, I headed to the burrito stall on Rupert St, Soho. I’d been there before, but that was back when I almost never compared burritos to tasty baby robots. So I was thrilled when I realised it was actually a branch of Freebird Burritos, which has been recommended to me by @HoveHousewife, and lauded around the internet on other (less robotty) food sites.

The skilfully altered sign at the front, which suggested that the burritos had recently cost £6, but were now a fiver, worried me a bit. Hopefully they were just being really nice?

*Supiciousface*

I soon discovered that Freebird Burritos are NOT very nice, in more ways than one. Ordering the usual (chicken, lime-cilanto rice, black beans, cheese, sour cream, medium salsa), I noticed the end product was looking a bit sorry for itself, so added some lettuce.

It had also been hanging around for a little while waiting to be wrapped, so I decided to eat it as I walked back to give it a fair chance of being all tasty and warm. Mmm!

Or rather, as Homer Simpson once memorably demanded of a rice cake: Hello taste? WHERE ARE YOU? I have simply no idea how it’s possible to wrap seven ingredients in a tortilla and have them taste of so little, unless those ingredients are meh, meh, meh, meh, meh, meh and meh.

‘The taste must be at the bottom,’ I thought, manfully (womanfully?) soldiering on. But no. One mouthful tasted a bit chickeny. But otherwise, it was just an insipid, watery nothing that only a mummy robot could love.

DAMN YOU, TASTELESS BABY ROBOT!

It was also tepid to begin with, and stone cold by the time I got to my office five minutes away, even the hot sauce having apparently given the whole thing up for a bad job. Eventually, I decided it really wasn’t worth the calories, and chucked the last bit away. Then I wrote this to take my mind off the terrible hunger pangs and ALL THE MEH.

Mood before: It’s Friday! Yay!

Mood after: Christ, are my taste-buds broken?

Rating: Food 3/10, Ambience 2/10, Staff 4/10, Value: 4/10

Where: Corner of Rupert St and Brewer St, London W1F 0RG, Monday to Friday

Closest Tube: Piccadilly Circus

Web: Here / @freebirdburrito

Recommended?: Umm, no.

UPDATE: Wrap It Up has since closed, relieving me of the duty of revisiting it. PHEW. It’s since become a kebab shop, which also shut, then a lovely-looking pizza place which I really want to visit before it inevitably closes.

Daddy Donkey. Mission: Burrito

Since I started this burrito blog all those years* ago, I have noticed a common theme emerging. And that theme is. ‘GO TO DADDY DONKEY. GO ON, GO TO DADDY DONKEY. IT’S THE BEST ONE. GO ON. DADDDDYYYY DONKEEEEY!’ So many people have recommended it (namely @MarinaMetro, @Lady_Lucan, @JimFam a girl in my office and around 65,436 food websites), I couldn’t leave it off my list.

The main problem is that Daddy Donkey’s opening hours are 7.30am-4pm on weekdays. I work just off Carnaby Street (please do not stalk me. Thank you.), and Daddy Donkey** is near Chancery Lane. Of course, I would be fully prepared to forgo a lie-in for the sake of my burrito mission.

But before 11am they only serve breakfast burritos (a situation universally known as The McDonalds Conundrum), and I couldn’t make a mockery of my own rules, which say each burrito needs to contain chicken for a fair comparison. Even if you squint, scrambled egg and sausage are impressively dissimilar to chicken.

I would have to either book a day off just to buy a burrito, which would be quite embarrassing when filling in my holiday form. Or, I’d have to fit a trip in inside my lunch hour. Could it be done? There was only one way to find out…

12.32pm: In-depth research (Twitter) has told me that the queue at Daddy Donkey’s blue-and-red liveried truck is usually about 25 minutes long (‘worth every second!’ @JonathanMathias parps enthusiastically). If I can get there early and whittle that down to about 20 minutes, it’ll give me 40 minutes’ travelling time. If I do that not-quite-running walk I do when I’m late for work but don’t want to look too unsexy, I might just make it. I glance at my computer’s clock. It is 12.32pm precisely.

12.46pm: Having nimbly hop-scotched my way around the tourists of Carnaby Street – who traditionally move at the same speed as an elderly man with an arthritic hip who is playing a game of statues in very heavy shoes – I emerge, blinking, from Chancery Lane tube, before heading to Leather Lane. Not-quite-running down the street, I spot a flash of blue and red…

12.53pm: I’m in the queue! If I can get to the front in 18 minutes, I should be back at my desk at PRECISELY 1.32pm. I bloody WIN at getting to places on time! I bask in the admiring glances of passers-by. ‘That’s a long queue,’ they are probably thinking. ‘She must really know her stuff, grub-wise.’ My mind wanders. I start to wonder if they do a donkey burrito.

1.02pm: DISASTER. I’ve reached the front of the queue in double-quick time. But Daddy and his Donkey have run out of chicken. It will take four minutes to finish cooking a new batch. A bead of sweat creeps apologetically down my forehead. I could go for pork. But that would be all wrong. People would revolt if I bend the rules! I may as well have had scrambled egg! I decide to risk it. ‘I’ll wait,’ I say imperiously, stepping aside for the chicken-shunning masses to place their orders.

1.06pm: The chicken is ready. My burrito is being made. It will cost me £5.50, and I also order a can of Diet Coke for just 60p. I look longingly at the Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette. It looks lovely, but is 50p extra, and would go against the spirit of my mission. A huge pile of crispy-looking chicken is heaped onto my tortilla. Daddy, I think I love you.

1.07pm: Luckily, there are no tables outside the van. I would have been sad to have to eat my burrito walking back to the tube if I hadn’t had to. But I would have had to, so it’s fine. Unwrapping the foil, my lips quiver. And suddenly, it’s happening. It’s really happening. I’M EATING A DADDY DONKEY BURRITO.

1.08pm: It’s okay.

1.09pm: Only kidding! It’s really nice. The crispy chicken has tons of flavour and is nicely juicy, and there is a LOT of it. It’s very different to the chicken I’ve had anywhere else. There’s not quite enough hot sauce for my liking, but what’s there is lovely. There’s a generous amount of cheese, and not too much sour cream to overpower it, and the filling is very well distributed all the way through. It’s a shame I’m having to eat it on the hoof, but that’s probably really authentic and street foody and awesome, maybe.

A burrito in transit, yesterday

1.13pm: Clutching the remains of my burrito, I head down to the tube. If all goes well, I might just about make it…I’m feeling too full to not-quite-run, but I do walk down the escalator. This is incredibly dangerous, as my rail-holding hand is clutching a burrito corpse. I’m feeling a lot like Ethan Hunt right now.

1.32pm: Panting and waddling, I arrive back at my desk. I look at the clock. 1.32pm exactly. I am so excited, I start hopping up and down, pointing at my screen and shouting, ‘One thirty-two pm! ONE THIRTY-TWO PM!!’ like Doc Brown getting over-enthused about the 1.6 Gigawatts needed to power the DeLorean***. My colleagues look bemused and tell me I smell of burritos. But I don’t care. I won.

Here is a picture of the clock. It took me a minute to minimise the highly sensitive documents on my desktop, and I didn’t take a ‘before’ photo either, rendering it entirely redundant

*Three weeks.

** My friend recently remarked, ‘What’s that burrito place you went to called? No Daddy Don’t?’ which is so funny I’m tempted to give it extra points.

**If you don’t understand what this means, we can never be friends. ADDENDUM: @Dookie3000 has pointed out, with rightful indignation, that this should be 1.21 gigawatts. I’d like to pretend this was merely a test, but lies make Baby Jesus cry. I’ve unfriended myself on Facebook, and am wearing a hair-shirt.

Mood before: Duh-duh der-ner, duh-duh DER-ner.

Mood after: WHO’S THE DADDY?

Rating: Food: 8/10 Ambience: 5/10 Staff: 8/10 Value: 9/10

Where: 100 Leather Lane, City of London, EC1N 7TE, weekdays only

Closest tube: Chancery Lane. You were paying attention, right?

Web: Find them here / @DaddyDonkey

Recommended?: Ee-AWWW! (Yes)

Mas Burritos

The morning I went to Mas Burritos, I absolutely, definitely was NOT going to have a burrito. I’d been to Tortilla just the day before, where I’d gorged on my fifth burrito in eight days. Six in nine days would be ridiculously greedy.

A few hours of writing about ladies’ things for Cosmo later, I decided I deserved a treat. You know, because I’m worth it. But what could I treat myself to? I didn’t have the money for shoes. I am morally opposed to cupcakes. And I don’t like massages. What I needed was something that cost around £6-£7, wasn’t seven different pastel shades, and definitely didn’t involve me taking all my clothes off and being rubbed by a stranger. What on earth could I do?

Mas Burritos is easy to find, boasting a bright-yellow sign that told me this was definitely the kind of place that would shout ‘ARRRRRIBA!’ at me when I walked through the door, without a hipster lamp fashioned from beer bottles in sight. I went to the Covent Garden branch, not yet realising there was a Soho branch closer to my offices. That disappointment, like so many others, was yet to come.

ARRRRIBA!

Sure enough, it had tablecloths decorated with oranges, and a little tin foil model of a Mexican man playing a Mexican guitar in a Mexican hat. So far, so good.

Do Not Chew

I ordered the usual chicken – tinga this time, cooked in chipotle adobe marinade – noting that the black beans were almost sinister in their blackness, like a bucket of beetles with the legs pulled off. I also noticed, with some unease, that the cheese they used wasn’t cheddar, as usual, but a combination of cheddar and Red Leicester.

As any of you who have ever eaten a packed lunch at a British comprehensive will know,* there are two types of kids: those who eat orange cheese and those who eat normal cheese. It’s a fierce divide, each side viewing the other with mortal mistrust, like the Sharks and the Jets, but less stabby and more cheesy.

I always viewed Orange Cheese Kids with suspicion, especially as their sandwiches were usually made with brown bread. Madness. Despite the realisation that Mas Burritos is ruled by a not-to-be-trusted Orange Cheese Kid, I persevered, adding some pineapple and sweetcorn salsa. After trying it with great success at The Flying Burrito, I was filled with hope.

Unfortunately, said hope was wildly misplaced, as instead of small hits of sweetness lifting my burrito into the sublime every other bite, I was faced with hulking great chunks of pineapple which tasted like they’d been fished out of a can last week and stopped pretty much any other flavour coming through.

The bit of the burrito that had escaped Captain Pineapple’s evil clutches was weirdly tasteless. It just kind of sat there in my mouth, going ‘meh,’ like a sulky teenager. After I’d gone, it probably moped in a darkened room, listening to Mumford and Sons and refusing to tidy its room. It wasn’t awful, and would have been fairly inoffensive without the pineapple. But for £5.85, I’d expect something a bit more exciting.

"Why did you even HAVE me? I HATE you!"

I hadn’t bothered ordering a drink (a really bad idea: if any meal needs a drink to go with it, it’s one primarily comprising bread, dry meat and hot sauce), and as if in divine retribution, the door of the drinks cabinet hit the back of my chair every time someone opened it. I could have moved, but I seemed to have caught a debilitating dose of ennui from my burrito, and couldn’t be bothered.

On the plus side, you can get another moribund burrito for half price if you return to Mas Burritos the next day clutching your receipt. It also boasts three different types of Cholula sauce: Chili Garlic and Chipotle, on top of the usual Original. I tried them all in rotation throughout my meal in order to give you the DEFINITIVE review. In the spirit of the 2012 Olympics, I have awarded them medals:

GOLD: Original

SILVER: Chipotle

BRONZE: Chili Garlic

There. Now you don’t have to fret about missing out on tickets to the ping-pong.

*Private school kids eat quinoa wrapped in lettuce leaves and spinach jus tartlets and stuff rather than cheese sandwiches.

Mood before: Burrito number six? I’M COMING TO GET YOU!

Mood after: *Shrugs. Wears fringe too long* 

Rating: Food 5/10, Ambience 6/10, Staff 7/10, Value 6/10

Where: Chancery Lane, Covent Garden, Tower Hill, Monday-Friday

Closest tube: Ummm…Chancery Lane, Covent Garden and Tower Hill?

Web: Find them here / @MasBurritos (They’ve only tweeted twice, don’t get excited)

Recommended?: Not bovvered

Tortilla

Having ventured all the way to the other side of Oxford Street to visit El Burrito, I felt I’d done my bit for the exploring community. I was like a modern-day Sir Edmund Percival Hillary, or Paddington Bear.

Exhausted by my impressive exertions, I decided to stick closer to home for the next burrito. Both @sophierobehmed and @hyperbolicgoat had recommended Tortilla, and after some top-level investigating that would make the late Columbo proud (Google), I discovered there was a branch down my end of Oxford Street, on Market Place. Phew.

Inside, the restaurant has gone for the same, ‘Oooh look, we’ve made a chandelier out of BEER BOTTLES,’ hipster-type vibe that they’re so keen on in Shoreditch. Personally, I prefer the cheesy, faux-Mexican pictures-of-cacti-type décor that screams ‘ARRRRIBA!’ at you when you walk in the door, but it was pleasant enough. They were playing modern poppity-hop music, which was fine.

A light drinker? *Chortles*

For the first time, I was faced with a choice of a medium (£4.95) or large (£5.95) burrito. Which is ostensibly Tortilla catering for the smaller appetite, but is in fact obliquely passive-aggressive. Of course I want large burrito. But I am a lady, which means I have to ask for medium in order to appear dainty, then feel cheated for the rest of the night. Sneaky Tortilla!

Their chicken is barn-reared, then marinated in a ‘mellow adobo,’ which sounds more like a hippy retreat than a sauce. As well as the usual lime and coriander rice, they offer Mexican rice, too. I don’t know what makes it Mexican. But it’s red. So, tomatoes, probably. They’re red, aren’t they?

I was briefly horrified when the person behind the counter put my chilled Diet Coke (£1.10) in the same basket as my hot burrito, but decided, in the spirit of international relations, to overlook it.

The only free table was draped in coats and luggage, so I stood next to it and coughed politely in a way that I hoped said, ‘Would you be so kind as to remove your bags before I go a bit Falling Down, dear chap?’ As a nearby group of tourists moved their things for me, I realised they were American, so I gave them a knowing smile and waggled my eyebrows.

‘I have been to New York,’ my smile said, mysteriously. ‘I, too, am wise in the Way of the Burrito,’ my eyebrows added. At least that’s what they were meant to say. The tourists probably ran home and told all their friends, ‘Damn, those Brit chicks are freaky, dude.’ (This is how people talk in America. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but I’ve been there. Yeah, I have).

Anyway, back to the burrito. After tracking down a bottle of Cholula sauce, I was able to employ my favoured drizzle-chomp-drizzle-chomp style of consumption. And very nice it was, too. Great balance of ingredients, very tasty chicken, lots of flavour. The hot sauce had real bite, but even without it there was plenty of heat, and for a medium it was pretty hefty. And the black beans weren’t too dry or too sloppy, but just right.

Hot stuff, coming through! *Sniggers*

At the end, I encountered a horrible gristly bit I had to spit out, which made me regard the rest of my burrito with wary suspicion. I silently thanked the Burrito Gods that I’d picked the right end to start at, otherwise I would have spent most of the meal waiting for a nasty surprise. Gristle Bomb Russian Burrito Roulette isnt my favourite game, to be honest, being more of a Scrabble kinda girl. Despite that one hiccup, it was one of the better burritos I’ve encountered so far.

A medium burrito, yesterday

Sadly, outside it was raining, making Oxford Street damper than an El Burrito chicken mole mess. I left Tortilla behind with a soon-to-be-soggy sigh, and a small gap in my stomach which made me yearn for simpler times, when only large burritos roamed the earth.

Mood before: Soggy and cold and hungry 

Mood after: Quietly satisfied. And soggy and cold. 

Rating: Food 7/10, Ambience 6/10, Staff 7/10, Value 7/10

Where: Islington, Southwark, Oxford Circus, Canary Wharf, Leadenhall Market and Hammersmith, seven days a week

Closest tube: Depends. You do the math.

Web: Find them here / @tortillauk

Recommended?: Yes. But make it a large one.