Let’s taco about how amazing it is to have El Cartel back. Having reopened after an unfortunate incident with a fire, it’s back…and it’s better than ever. With a new and improved menu, fantastic music and the some of the best frozen Margaritas we have tried, where could you possibly go wrong?
El Cartel’s take on antojitos (‘little cravings’) or street food is brought to your table the minute it’s ready, and it’s not a moment too soon.
Contrary to popular opinion, Mexican food does not just consist of fajitas and nachos with a side of jalapenos. In fact, there is an array of slow roasted meat, seafood, vegetarian options and it all comes jam packed with flavour. The cod tacos, pork shoulder tacos and chorizo quesadillas are small parcels packed designed to be savored, but that inevitably disappear in a matter of seconds. The guacamole with feta cheese and pomegranate seeds served is delivered with a side of plantain chips, and force you to consider the option of a second (or third) portion almost as soon as they catch your eye.
If you haven’t picked up on my enthusiasm yet, let me reiterate…the food is utterly delicious. Two of us shared two starters and three tacos and felt quite content, but there is always room for more at El Cartel. You can taste the fresh ingredients in every bite and there is certainly nothing processed about any of the dishes. Dessert options are limited, but the sweetness of their house margaritas will offset any sugar cravings you may have.
Note: The house hot sauce is a winner and goes with just about everything. Go big or go home certainly applies here!
The restaurant is tiny, so be prepared to wait across the street at big brother, Bon Vivant. Most tables are for 2 or 4 people, so call ahead for larger groups, although there is likely to be a longer wait. The El Cartel staff will be happy to come and collect you from across the street when a table becomes free.
Life without Mexican food is no life at all.
Who’s it for?: Everyone that loves good food and doesn’t mind a bit of noise.
The specifics: Recently reopened after an unfortunate fire, it’s back and it’s better than ever.
At first Glance: Small, lively and just the right volume of amazing music.
Bill of Fare: Mexican Street Food
The Frontrunners: Cod Tacos, Pork Shoulder Tacos and Chorizo Quesadillas…oh, and the guacamole with Feta cheese and pomegranate seeds served with a side of plantain chips.
The Feeling: Small, atmospheric restaurant with huge vats of frozen margaritas and great music.
The Team: Extremely friendly, informed and good humoured staff – who are happy to run over the road to Bon Vivant to let you know when a table becomes free. There are definitely worse places to wait!
Doubtful: If you aren’t prepared to take a chance on a table and perhaps wait across the street at Bon Vivant for half an hour or so, then avoid peak hours. Most tables are for 2 or 4 people, so call ahead for larger groups, there will likely be a longer wait. Dishes are small so if you enjoy big portions, it’s not for you.
The Bottom Line: £30 for 2 starters, 3 tacos, and additional £30 for a jug of the pear and raspberry frozen margarita.
Find them: 64 Thistle Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH2 1EN