Mighty Mexicana at El Cartel…

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Depending on my mood Mexican is my absolute favourite food. The tacos, tortillas and tequila however, must be dished up right (no ol’ el paso here). Thank God then for El Cartel. One of the newest Mexicana eats-on-the-block in Edinburgh.

el cartel

For a start, it’s an authentic street-food offering. So, it’s going all out with its incredible tacos…and they’re soooooo super tasty .While the food is traditional, it’s sexy too and the dining space is styled to match. It’s hip yet casual, and its vibe is a chilled as its frozen margaritas.

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If you know me by now, you’ll know I properly love a margarita…or three. And El Cartel gets ten out of ten.

It was a sad day for me when Tex Mex closed its Thistle Street doors. I have many-a-margarita memory thanks to Fat Donny and his wee empire back then. While, it was good news that the Bon Vivant brigade were taking it over (with BIG plans for an all new Mexican place) it was sad too…end of an era and all that.

Sometimes you need a renaissance though. And, the time is definitely now!

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The current menu has nine starters and six tacos. The steak, duck and fish tacos are all piquant chic, making you just want more! While starter dishes like the salmon ceviche – served ‘Mexico city style in soy sauce, cucumber, red onion tomato and avocado’, and the chorizo Quesadillas will definitely make your day.

salmon

tacos

It’s not a huge menu, which I prefer (being Libran, too much choice is never a good thing!). I did however, find myself contemplating whether I could chomp my way through the whole thing, there and then….hmmm probably, as long as I was sharing. Well, the food is that good.

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Don’t forget to sample the chilli-chocolate ice cream either – super tasty, and the perfect end with a bite to a perfect meal. The home-made hot sauce is spot on too.

Arriba Arriba!

Any more Margarita / Mexicana recommendations?

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A taste of Café Tartine…

Last Friday we (me and two of my girlfriends) ended up in one of Leith’s newest eateries, Café Tartine. It was a lovely (and very), civilised evening (mainly due to the lack of margaritas) of tasty food, wine and chat.

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Now, as this is a French café and wine bar you can pop in at anytime for food. I’ve already been for a couple of luncheons but this was my first evening date here.  It was a very different atmosphere on the Friday night that we were in – much quieter and more chilled. But, considering our mood (it was the end of January) and our need for a good catch up, it was the perfect setting and we had a fab time.

It’s a gorgeous, vast space and I LOVE the décor, which I’d describe as rustic chic. There’s room for lots of diners too, across a mix of table, chairs and some sofas.

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The café bar has a 1am license and the menu is the same throughout the day. On one level this works really well due to the huge range of choices on the menu. If you just fancy a sandwich, soup or coffee, for example, then you’re sorted. But, if you’re looking for a more hearty meal then there’s a tasty range of hot dishes to choose from too   – everything from burgers and chips to more a la carte offerings. On another level however, there’s almost too much to choose from and it feels a bit strange in the evening measuring up whether to go for the Croque Monsieur or the Beef Bourguigon.

Hmmmmm….

We mixed things up but, I’d say that all of our dishes were acceptable evening fare. I went for the Salad Nicoise of Grilled Peppered Tuna and, the girls went for the Braised Pork Belly and Pan Seared Cornfed Chicken Supreme.

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We also had its Homemade Chips with Truffle Oil Mayo and Parmesan on the side – two portions, of course, in case one wasn’t enough (it wasn’t…three would actually have been better). These are AMAZING chips and dips!!

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My salad was totally delicious – just bursting with flavours and, the tuna steak was perfectly cooked. The girls were very happy with their dishes too.

We normally can’t get enough of a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. But we all agreed that you can never really go wrong with a good French wine so, we opted on this occasion for the house white, which was lovely. And so was the January price (£16.95 compared to the NZ £29.99).

One of the really exciting food offerings here though, has to be its huge range of savoury and sweet Crepes. They also crepe them up right in front of you!

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We shared one between the three of us (anymore would have just been greed after those chips). And after humming and hawing over whether to go Nutella or banoffee or…..we kept it simple with just lemon and sugar. It was YUM.

I’m definitely a huge fan of this place – I’m actually heading back for lunch again next week. So, I’d definitely recommend it. But, based on my evening date I probably prefer it as a lunch venue so far. It does feel like there’s a huge opportunity though, to make more of the evenings – especially Fridays to appeal to the huge business community in the area (of which, I’m part of).

I’ve seen on its twitter page that there has been live music recently – LOVE this. Maybe a DJ could work in the conservatory space at the back too (all at a reasonable café bar tempo…bien sur). And maybe some tasty BITE offers would go down well like, a bottle of Champers and those truffle chips. Or, the tasting boards (which look fab) with a bottle of wine. I guess it would be striking the right balance of bringing in more evening drinkers without spoiling its raison d’etre.

Just some food for thought…

Check it out.

#LOVELEITH