Chilango, Birmingham

I own two copies of Chilango’s ‘Burrito Bible’. It’s a very good cookbook and one that I’d highly recommend, though one copy is probably enough. Within those pages are recipes for braised bits of meat, sauces and salsas, pickles, and ways to make rice taste less like rice. There are sections on different types of chilli pepper, yet no mention of Anthony Kiedis, and the whole thing speaks of an understanding of Mexican food in a jittery, colourful way. Loving meat and rice wrapped tightly with a flour tortilla as much as I do, I keep my Burrito Bible next to my bed, reading a passage a night.

For the none of you thinking ‘how does a man acquire two of the same cookbook’, let me tell you. The second copy came in the goody bag of the opening of the Birmingham branch a few months back. I swung by for an hour, necked some frozen margaritas and had a brief chat with the group’s owner. I also tried some food. It was okay. I thought I’d give it some time before trying it properly, and err, if anything it’s gotten slightly worse. The portions are meagre; half a spoon of meat, half a spoon of rice, but loads of chalky black beans. The hottest salsa lacking any punch. All rolled-up in such an amateurish way that my last mouthful contains too much tin foil for my liking. A burrito bowl is similarly miserable. I bulk out the order with lukewarm pinto beans with cold sour cream and a bag of corn tortillas that are every bit as unappetising as they sound.

This answers the question of why it’s never seemingly busy. A part of me initially thought that maybe burritos were a fading commodity, given that the last twelve months have also seen both Mission Burritos shut. The hard truth is that Chilango just isn’t good enough; the queues at Tortilla keep going strong because they have better food and far greater generosity. A week later I’m working in London and have a quick dinner at Benitos Hat. The experience is a world away; the fillings are vibrant, thought-out and above all tasty. Sorry Chilango, that is the burrito chain we need in Birmingham.

4/10

A2B never let me down

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