Friday, 20 October 2017

El Taquero, Manchester

El Taquero, Manchester
I was fifteen when I went watching Bush. Gavin Rossdale... he of the shaggy hair and gravelly voice, and then boyfriend of my idol, Gwen Stefani. I was the biggest Gwennabe in town (not literally). I emerged from the Labatt's Apollo a sweaty mess, with a crushed ribcage, covered in bruises, stinking of smoke, and with a beaming smile because I got to touch his hair as he crowdsurfed. It was magical. My poor parents were waiting outside. I wouldn't have let me in the car!

I proudly wore a t-shirt with 'Bush' emblazoned across the chest to my school non-uniform day, like a badge of honour. Kieran Morris and Gareth Hopkins laughed at it during science, then I realised for them it had a very different meaning. Sherpherd's Bush lads, Shepherd's!

Fast forward almost exactly twenty years. I am the age my mum was when she waited in the car for me, and although this realisation makes me feel old as hell, the prospect of seeing Gavin made me feel fifteen again. It hammered it down twenty years ago too, which turned my perm a little wild. The main concern of my hair in 2017 is my pink dye running, but I think you will agree that this is testament to my refusal to grow old gracefully, and should be fully embraced. Still goes frizzy.
Ticket collection
What culinary merriment could befit such an exciting evening? Mexican food of course. It was the perfect time to sample the new kid on the block El Taquero. Brainchild of Franco and Simon of Solita fame, they have the Midas touch when it comes to feeding the masses of Manchester. Would it be authentic though?

Before I excite you with pictures of food, I'm going to run through the cocktail offerings. I had four in quick succession, and rabbited constantly about my joy at seeing my favourite Cazcabel Honey tequila on the menu.
Clockwise:
Frozen strawberry Margarita with Cazcabel
Tommy’s Margarita - Cazcabel reposado, Cointreau, lime and agave syrup
Honey Margarita - Cazcabel honey, mango puree, strawberry syrup, Cointreau and lime
Frozen mango margarita with Cazcabel
El Taquero, Manchester - cocktails
Not on the menu yet... cactus fungus and cheese: Looks like hell. Sounds like hell. Tastes like heaven. When have I ever lied to you? Simon insisted there was 'too much cheese' on this. Can't believe he actually uttered the words. Perhaps he was unwell or something. So cactus fungus, unsurprisingly, tastes a bit like mushroom. Get past the word fungus please, let it go. Can't recommend these enough.
El Taquero, Manchester
Al Pastor - spit roasted, marinated pork with pineapple: If you're one of these who can't abide warm pineapple, forget everything you've ever known about the stuff. These sweet little nuggets are the ideal bedfellow for that tasty pork.
El Taquero, Manchester
Queso Fundido - Mexican cheese fondue with Chorizo, Pico de Gallo and tortilla chips: Behold for a moment the pot of melted cheese, which comes with the warning 'make sure you eat it quickly, otherwise it solidifies back to cheese'. Never worry about my speed when it comes to eating cheese.
El Taquero, Manchester
Birria - Slow cooked beef brisket served in a rich gravy, with green chilli and warm tortillas on the side: This is so so rich. If it was dish number one, I'd have scoffed the lot, but I was already flagging. As you can see from the pictures below, we probably weren't even half way! This is the equivalent of someone stroking your face while you stuff it with quesedillas. Blissful.
El Taquero, Manchester
El Taquero, Manchester
Tacos Dorados - Deep fried crispy taco, filled with potato, topped with guacamole and salsa: Fill my carbs with carbs please. Then deep fry it. Then top it with stuff. This is why we get on so well, El Taquero and I. But five minutes before, I was 'stuffed', yet here I am, eating this like a total warrior. Note - you'll be needing more tequila at this point.
El Taquero, Manchester
Chargrilled chicken thigh pieces in a spicy lime marinade with avocado: When your carb eating days are done (for now), do the right thing... opt for chicken. Look at those crispy charred bits.
El Taquero, Manchester
Churros: Never have I been too full for churros with experimental dips. 'We want to know which you prefer'... challenged accepted like a soldier ready to commence battle. First up, chocolate. A staple and standard accompaniment to the wonder that is the deep fried tubular doughnut, and excellent it was too. The next one threw me off my even keel. It was packaged as 'salted caramel', but I knew there was something lurking in there which wasn't normal. Turns out they use goat's milk, which is never, ever for me. Goat juice can do one, however, I'm sure those of you who love a bit of goat's cheese will adore this.
El Taquero, Manchester
If I'm being honest, I really did not know what to expect from El Taquero. After speaking to the lovely Mexican chef, I'm confident that they're doing everything right here, hell, they aren't afraid to serve cactus fungus in a taco, because they know damn well that it's brilliant. What I loved about this place was the speed and quality of service that accompanies the experience. Our waitresses excitedly recommended cocktails, and seemed genuinely excited about the food.

Go here for a quick bite with friends, and down a few cocktails while you're there. I really must insist that you sample something with Cazcabel Honey in it though, or at the very least have a quick shot. It really is a game changer.

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