The Islington, Upper Street restaurant previously known as Mucho Mas reopened this weekend as Chilango. It opened with much fanfare including Mexican wrestlers entertaining the crowd from atop a yellow double-decker Corona bus. Best of all, Chilango gave away free burritos on Friday and Saturday. Mr. Crab stood in line on Friday for about 20 minutes for his prize: a steak burrito with all the fixings including rice, black beans, guacamole, sour cream, mild salsa, and cheese. I had heard good things about this place, including comparisons to Chipotle in the United States.
Unfortunately, the reviews were highly overrated. Maybe it was first-day kinks, but I was sorely disappointed. For starters, the meat was a very poor quality mix of tough chunks of grizzle and fat and a so-so marinade. The black beans were ok, but the rice was dry. And the mass-produced, industrial tortillas were rubbery and flavorless. I do give high kudos to the guacamole, which tasted like my own home-made recipe! But overall, the Chilango burrito was bland and average; the salsa is desperately in need of more cilantro (that's 'coriander' for you Brits), cumin and onions.
I'll give them a few weeks and try again. But Chilango's first impression failed to make an impact on this Mexican-American expat!
THE TWO CRABS REVIEWS OF LONDON MEXICAN RESTAURANTS (as of Feb 2009)
Cafe Pacifico (Covent Garden): Better than average. 3.5 out of 5 stars
Chiquito (Soho): Average Tex-Mex chain restaurant. 2 out of 5 stars
Chilango (Islington and Fleet Street): Overrated. Average. 2 out of 5 stars.
Desperados (Angel Islington): Absolutely horrendous. 1 out of 5 stars
Mucho Mas (CLOSED, now Chilango): Average. 2 out of 5 stars
Puerto Mexico (Syndenham): Average at best. 2 out of 5 stars
TAQUERIA (Notting Hill). EXCELLENT. 4 out of 5 stars. Best authentic Mexican food in London!
Texas Embassy (Trafalgar Square). Pretty good Tex-Mex restaurant. 3 out of 5 stars
Tortilla (Angel Islington): Rather quite good! Equivelent to Chipolte in USA. 3.5 out of 5 stars
Cool Chile Company (Borough Market) A market stall in London's famous foodie Borough Market that sells authentic imported Mexican ingredients including dried poblano chiles, fresh tortillas, mole sauce and mole-making kits, Mexican chocolate, black beans, tomatillos and more.
**About the ratings: 1 is the worst. 5 is my mom's cooking!