Does Manchester’s newest Mexican pop-up pack the heat it promises?
Manchester is a metropolis in modern world-food, but one cuisine we really lack is Mexican.
Now I’m not talking about the cheap burritos one might grab on the way to the train station – I am talking about the real stuff. The ‘proper’ experience of tacos, tequila, margaritas, a plethora of chillies and a relaxed dining experience fuelled by plenty of ice-cold beers.
I have been pining for a decent Mexican joint for what feels like a decade, but my prayers have finally been answered because Mexican mavericks El Camino have popped-up in the kitchen of The Cotton Factory, newly opened at Whitworth Locke.
Now, I can’t get too excited, it is just a pop-up and isn’t here to stay, but time is of the essence and so I got myself down there immediately to get my fill. Roughly 8 seconds after entering the building I had a rather boozy Frozen Margarita in my hand and had ordered myself a feast.
Nothing makes me happier than a big bowl of cheese, and so the Queso Fundido (£4.95) was an absolute delight. Best described as a Mexican fondue, the cheese was actually relatively light in flavour which I greatly enjoyed, and it certainly had a satisfying ‘pull’ which was just asking to be Instagrammed.
Mexican food for me is solely about the tacos, which I was glad to find expertly made at El Camino. Blue corn tortillas made an appearance, meaning the team behind this place really know their stuff – none of this pseudo-Tex-Mex rubbish here – El Camino is as authentic as a slap in the face from a cactus.
These were topped with a variety of excellent fillings. The Baja Coley (£4.25) was a favourite with its crisp batter, delicate fish, red cabbage for texture, pretty pink pickled onions and the confusingly creamy, yet spicy avocado hot sauce. I couldn’t get enough.
We also sampled the Charred Corn Taco (£3.75) – a delightful combination of charred corn (which was actually charred whole and shaved off to order might I add) with feta cheese, light tomato and onion salsa (pico de gallo) and that tip-top avocado hot sauce.
Alongside the extensive menu of tacos, you will also find quesadillas and a range of larger plates. If you are a carnivore, you will love the grilled Pork Chop (£14.95) served with blackened greens, and salsa verde. There is also a delicious Rib Eye steak (£24.95) which gets the same treatment.
Nothing is complete without a sweet finish, and so it was a no brainer that we were going to order dessert. We went for the Ancho Chilli Brownie (£5.25) which was gooey, chocolatey and all things good. The cinnamon ice cream on the side was fantastic too – the perfect finish to the meal of the century.
I’ve said it once and I will say it again, I LOVE Mexican food, and I am so glad to see I have finally found the good stuff at El Camino.
It is only a shame that it is not here to stay at The Cotton Factory, but that just means I will have to get my fill before things change in a couple of months*. I guess if anyone needs me I’ll be munching on Tacos from now until then….
*El Camino has a residency at The Cotton Factory until September 2019. Get involved before it is too late!
El Camino at Cotton Factory
Where: Whitworth Locke, 74 Princess St, Manchester, M1 6JD
When: Until September 2019