Ever wondered if the are any great Mexican restaurants in Manchester city centre? If you've ever tried searching you'll know it's slim pickings. So, when my one of my besties suggested El Capo in the northern quarter I had a good drool over the menu and readily agreed.
Now for starters it's not the best signposted. Having only looked at the menu it took u a while to find our bearings and make our way in. The only indication of it being the right place was it's name in lights in a small window. Having said that the vibe in that place was beyond laid back and chilled out which I LOVED. Really great background music upstairs, cool murals on the walls and low level mood lighting gave it a really welcome feel.
We were shown to our table downstairs pretty quickly by attentive staff were the tables were more compact and the music was a touch louder. If they take a while to answer the phone it's maybe because it can't be heard ringing. We were led to a table for two that was a bit too close to our neighbouring diners but after a bit of re - jigging we settled in.
Now I love Mexican food. The flavours, punchiness of heat and fresh zing of lime... I mean GAHHH how can you not? We ordered a veritable feast. We were able to choose a different topping for each of the 3 tacos we ordered which for me was brilliant as it meant I didn't get food envy. I went for the prawn, lime chicken and pulled pork. We then shared some of the xocolate chilli and refried beans and I added a side of guac.
So lets start with the tacos. They came beautifully presented and ready to roll and devour. I'll start with the prawn first, it was good. It had a range of contrasting flavours and crunch from the fresh herbs,pepper and spring onion. The prawns were well cooked and had a great colour. The chicken on the other hand although well sespned was a tad dry and disappointing. My fault for ordering chicken in a restaurant JB would say. Ah well. I learnt my lesson. Lastly the pulled pork,this was probably my favourite of the three. Well seasoned and moist it had amazing flavour to it.
Moving on to sides, everyone likes their guac different. I get it. I was looking forward to a chunky one packed with crunchy red onion and fresh tomatoes with some zingy lime. Unfortunately I was a tad disappointed it was smooth and looked a tad like the 'Old el Paso' jobby that you can get from the supermarket... (oops I went there). The refried beans were undercooked and still quite firm and whole although they had a great flavour. The stand out dish for me was the chilli, packed full of flavour with lovely chunks of squash and casava. All the vegetables in it held their shape so they were recognisable but melted in your mouth.
For me, the whole experience was pleasent enough but maybe that was more to do with the company than the food. Maybe we had built it up too much so we ended up being a tad underwhelmed? That happns right? At some points we did question whether we could have done better ourselves. It was ok food at an ok price. Unfortunately the food was only warm and lacked a kick of chilli although the service was great. Did we ruin a good restaurant experience with unrealistic expectations?
This particular experience had me thinking, how many times have you been out for dinner and questioned whether or not you could have made it yourself? Can you really out your money where your mouth is?
I gave it a bash. I decided to host mexican night at casa J&B to see if I really could do it myself. Being the safood lover I am I thought tuna and chicken would be great for some soft tacos along with some chilli and sides of salsa and guacamole.
With having two fillings for my tacos I had to think about how I could season them differently. The flavours that immediately jump out at me with a mexican food are smoky paprika, limes and chilli. Mix it with a splash of olive oil and that's what I went with for the tuna. To mix it up a little for the chicken though I used lemon instead of lime, added garlic and honey and reduced the amount of chilli for a milder flavour.
All in all I would say Mexican night was a success but I'd love to know how you like your guac : )