Sunday, 20 November 2011

Neon Cactus - Call Lane, Leeds

Recently I seem to be craving spicy food... all the time! So when I was out shopping in Leeds city centre the other week and it came to deciding upon where to have lunch I knew I wanted something spicy. I wanted to try somewhere I had never visited before and I didn't fancy Indian or Tapas. So whilst I sat cradling a cup of tea in Primo's I googled 'Mexican Restaurant Leeds City centre'.. the top results were Las Iguanas (although I'm sure it's more ranging South American cuisine rather than just mexican?), Pinche Pinche (Not city centre), and Escobar (see review here).

Taking a better look through the results I saw Neon Cactus and noted that it wasn't too far from where I was as it's located on Call Lane.  I had a look through the menu and both my shopping partner and I agreed we wouldn't mind trying it out.

I don't go out too much any more, I've left my wilder days behind me, so I have never been here in the evening although I think it used to be Dr Woo's correct me if I'm wrong?

I am a little wary of food places which turn in to busy bars at night, often you find yourself surrounded by the smell of stale alcohol and destroyed furniture/decoration. This was absent here I was able to walk across the floor without sticking to it and the surroundings felt comfortable.

We weren't greeted at the door, it's more of a show yourself to a table and order at the bar type of place. We had a good look through the menu and decided what we wanted and headed to the bar. There were so many alcoholic beverages to choose from I panicked and chose something familiar... a Bulmers. As soon as I got back to the table I was kicking myself as I would have preferred to have tried one of the Mexican beers, we were about to eat Mexican food after all! My friend had their usual request where ever they serve a decent array of cocktails and asked if they could make them a non-alcoholic cocktail the only specification that it be fruity.

We were told to take a seat and she would bring our drinks over. My friend was impressed by their cocktail and seeing that the waitress made it up off of the top of her head I think that's pretty good going. I love the relaxed atmosphere of the place, the back seats are covered in big squishy pillows, there were two guys just casually drinking at the bar, and there were a few student types sat in the window having lunch also.

For starters we ordered the Nachos with Chili beef and Chorizo to share, it is recommended that you share this dish as the portion is rather large! We were a little disappointed that in that huge bowl we only found three pieces of chorizo.

The mains arrived as we were getting stuck in to the nachos, which didn't mind as we didn't want to fill ourselves up on them and they were a good accompaniment. We both ordered the Three Dales Pulled Pork with Salsa Verde Enchiladas.

Which comes with herby green and red rice, the red rice was spicy, a little too spicy for my friend though!

Enchiladas aren't the prettiest of things, all that cheese, sauce and sour cream is kind of hard to control. The sauce was quite spicy but not overly so, the wraps weren't soaked and sloppy so it must have been made fresh. The pork was really flavoursome and there were no fatty bits (which I hate) and there was plenty of it, no skimping on meat here (which I also hate).

The bill came to just over £23 which was an absolute bargain as we were stuffed!! We couldn't finish the rice or the nachos. I will be returning here when I fancy Mexican again as there were other things on the menu that I quite fancied such as the Chicken Mole Poblano, slow cooked chicken pieces with chocolate, chipotle chillies, and cumin served with rice and refried beans.

This place would be great for a hangover cure, or to fill yourself up on a budget. Your not waited on hand and foot, but the staff are really friendly, and to be honest sometimes I'd rather just have a relaxed meal with no interruptions or fussing. It's not top notch food it's comfort food, not elegantly presented but cooked well and leaves you feeling satisfied. Don't expect to be able to go here for dinner on a Friday or Saturday night, whilst we were there they were quite obviously getting ready for the Saturday night ahead... and I had to down the rest of my Bulmers so they could shift our table too (not that they were pressuring us to leave, it just felt awkward that we were the only people still in there with a table....)

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