11) Chiquito - Viva las Fajitas!

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Liam Hetherington on March 28, 2009

Mexico - 27/02/09

Friend and fellow IgoUgo member Colette was flying in for the weekend from Ireland so I arranged to meet her for lunch. Only having an hour we decided to go to Chiquito in the Printworks for a Mexican meal – not only was it near my office, but it also served a set price lunch menu. Moreover it was another step on my quest to travel Around the World in 80 Meals without leaving Manchester.

The Printworks is precisely what it says – a former newspaper printing works on the corner of Corporation Street and Withy Grove, opposite the Triangle and the Arndale Centre annex. It is just over eight years ago now that the big grey building was redeveloped as an entertainment complex. It now houses a collection of bars (Lloyds, Tiger Tiger, Henry J Beans, Waxy O'Connors, Norwegian Blue, Hard Rock Café), restaurants (Old Orleans, Wagamamas, Nandos, Café Rouge, Yum Yums), clubs (Opus, Pure) and an Odeon cinema. On weekend evenings it is a good place to hang out, particularly the interior courtyard, watching as the tipsy hen parties trip past.

Of course, there were no hen parties at 1pm on a Friday. Still, Chiquito was almost full – I think we were steered to the last free table. I knew that the menu promised beers (Mexican such as Corona and Dos Equis, or Spanish such as San Miguel or Estrella Damm) – and of course margaritas – as the last time I had visited a branch of Chiquito (in Southport) it had been an evening affair. However it wasn’t really appropriate to be drinking during my lunch hour, and we both went for soft drinks. You can order a ‘bottomless’ glass with unlimited refills for £2.45. This maybe wasn’t the wisest move considering our limited time, and we never had refills. Still, otherwise you can only get soft drinks by the 330ml bottle for £2.20 each, which is pretty expensive – the beers are only £2.95 each!

The lunch menu is available from noon to 5pm on weekdays. The offer is one course for £5.95, two courses for £7.25, and three for £8.45. Vegetarian options are prominently signified. Deciding for two courses I ordered Stuffed Pepper, followed by Chicken Fajitas; Colette ordered Loaded Potato Skins and a Meatball Sub.

When the potato skins were served, they looked to me like a bit of a paltry appetiser. They come stuffed with cheese and your choice of bacon, barbecued pork, vegetable or beef chilli, or a tomato / red onion / jalapeno mix. In contrast I got quite a hefty red pepper, stuffed with rice and enchilada sauce and topped with melted cheese. Both main courses were sizeable. Colette’s sub came with fries and posed the question of how to actually attack it – with fingers or with a knife and fork. The meatball sauce of tomato and chilli and the melted Monterey Jack cheese oozed everywhere. No such problem in deciding how to deal with my fajitas. Chiquito describe the dish as ’Our Famous Sizzling Fajitas’ - and with good reason. I ended up taking over half the table as I was brought warm flour tortillas on one plate, and then a wooden block with a sizzler plate as well. From the latter came a ferocious hissing and a cloud of steam. The strips of chicken and the sliced onions and peppers still fizzled on the iron plate – you could see that several other diners around the room had ordered the same thing as periodically wait staff emerged from the kitchens hissing and smoking like steam trains. Alongside came pots of fairly standard tomato salsa and cooling sour cream (both of which I used), and another of guacamole (which I didn’t). There were enough tortillas to fashion four fajitas, and they were as good as any I have had at a Mexican restaurant.

If I had a complaint to make it was that we had quite a long gap between our starter plates being collected and our main courses arriving. In fact it was quite hard to attract the attention of the wait staff at all. But as I say, the place was full, and I suppose most of the diners had the same time restrictions on them and needed to get back to work. I certainly didn’t see any of the staff idly standing around. And really it only took 70 minutes between arriving and leaving, after we had each paid a tenner to cover drinks and meal, so I can’t grumble too much. Chiquitos may be a chain, but that does mean that they have put together a tried-and-tested menu, and can offer these lunchtime deals.

(There are other branches of Chiquito at Capital Quay in Salford Quays, and at Parrswood between Didsbury and Stockport. Other Mexican restaurants that I can think of in Manchester are the long-running El Macho on Portland Street, and Barburrito in Piccadilly Gardens.)
2 The Printworks
Manchester, England, M4 2BS
0161 830 1560


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