Pinche Pinche has stood firmly on the streets of Chapel Allerton for around 7 years now, before that there was another Mexican restaurant, before that I have no idea. There aren't many Mexican restaurants in Leeds (when you compare to burger joints and Italians) and being a lover of Mexican food I can't quite understand why, although I guess it might be because they all sell the same (give or take) food. Burritos, Fajitas, Enchiladas, nachos, chilli con carne... There is nothing wrong with any of these foods, but they are pretty easy to replicate at home.
The owner's passion for Mexican food has led them to take a daring step forward and offer the people of Leeds something a little different. Yes, there are other Mexican restaurants doing tapas style menus, but you will struggle to find them outside London, and if you do find them in Yorkshire I bet they don't have the same things on the menu as they do here. This is no longer a run of the mill Mexican restaurant, they have something to shout about, something that makes them different, something you may struggle to make yourself at home.
I paid them a visit on a relatively quiet Tuesday evening, the atmosphere was much more relaxed than I had previously experienced on a full capacity Saturday evening. The mood on their busy nights is infectious and you feel the buzz, but a nice calm meal for two fitted quite perfectly with us.
The menus come in a table mat format with everything easily laid out for you to read. You're not flicking back and forth through pages of a menu book (encyclopaedia) trying to decide what to have, it's all just a bit more simple.
The main focus of the menu is their new tapas dishes, however for their long standing regulars and change-fearing customers they've kept a small selection of the bigger plates too (burritos, chilli and enchiladas).
They also have a good selection of Mexican beers, cocktails and wine (not sure if the wine is Mexican I didn't pay close attention...). D settled for a Pacifico and I Negro Modelo. Both were individual taste, mine being stronger in taste and alcohol percentage (luckily for me I don't drive, not so lucky for D).
As we were here to try out the new Tapas menu, or rather Antojitos, that's what we ordered. The plates come out gradually or if you prefer you can order a couple then if still hungry a couple more.
Technology failed me that night. My camera corrupted the first two pictures I took of the food! Pinche Pinche have kindly let me use one of their photos, and where appropriate I have credited them for this.
First up we had the spicy cheese balls. These were larger than expected, think the size of a ping pong ball, they are coated with ground tortilla and topped with pink onions, guacamole and salsa. They are soft on the inside and are served warm. (£5.25)
Picture courtesy of Pinche Pinche
Next up the Chefs special, the prawn and cod ceviche. A cold dish that sees the fish cured in mango and citrus flavours. D tried it before knowing what it was and announced it was very good, D doesn't like fish. Hats off to the chef it must be good! This dish goes really well with some of the more spicer dishes as it neutralises and refreshers your pallet to enable you to handle some more! (£5.25)
Three dishes that turned up next were:
- the plantain empanada - a pastie made from just plantain and water filled with black beans and goats cheese. This was up there as one of the best dishes we had that night. (£4.95)
- Manchego and serrano ham quesadillas served with guacamole. We fed back to the chef that the two layers of cheese in these made them quite sickly and he agreed. (£6.50)
- Sopes. A pastry made from sweet potato pulp moulded into cups and filled with a choice of fillings, we went for the sticky sweet pork. I've never had these before. They looked good, or rather they looked impressive. They were however a little dry and I need copious amounts a sour cream to finish them off. (£6)
Then came the tacos...
Lamb tacos with a beer spiced salsa. They were the spiciest dish we had. The lamb was rich in flavour and topped again by yet more pink onions. (£6 for two)
Surf and turf tacos, made with flash fried beef and topped with a spicy coated prawn. I wasn't too keen on the beef, it was tough and chewy, I felt some of the flavour had been sacrificed cooking the beef in strips. This may be personal preference but I felt a brisket would go better, the chef noted that brisket was an option for tacos so you could perhaps ask to switch if this is to your taste too.
Chicken tacos, stewed in spices and topped with a slice of avocado.
We were full to the brim after all 8 plates(!). I definitely recommend 3 per person and if that isn't enough then order more later! The dishes are designed to be shared between two or to devour to yourself, so pick a partner and choose a few each - this is what we always do anyway!
We had a chat with the chef at the end of the meal. An absolute pleasure to talk to, down to Earth and passionate about food. Just want you want from a chef. He knows the demographics of the area and the audience he is catering for. He and the owner appear to make a great team. I think it's a shame that there are people on trip adviser venting their frustrations that the traditional fajitas are no longer on the menu. Unfortunately not all people embrace change and see it as something positive.
I'll definitely be returning, there is so much more to try! A change in direction from my last visit where two out of three of us ordered Chimichangas and the other enchiladas!
Unfortunately due to the two extra dishes there was no room for dessert but I can testify that their churros are pretty spectacular, definitely attempt to make space for them.
116a Harrogate Road