New Menu at Pinche Pinche

Drinks at Pinche Pinche, Leeds // Amy Elizabeth I make no secret of the fact that Pinche Pinche is my favourite restaurant in Leeds. The food is delicious, the service is friendly, it’s close to my house and I’ve never spent more than £40 a head on three courses and as many drinks as I wanted. So it was with excitement and trepidation that I received an invitation to come down and try out their new menu; fajitas, enchiladas and burritos were out, small, tapas-style plates were in. I have always loved their food, so I was sad to see some of my favourite dishes go but definitely intrigued to try the new ‘antojitos’, which they’ve been trialling as specials for months in order to perfect the new menu. 

Chile Con Carne at Pinche Pinche, Leeds // Amy Elizabeth

Thankfully, everything else about the place is recognisable – the colourful decor, the cheerful ambience, the lovely staff – and it was a warm welcome that we received as we ducked out of the cold rain and into the restaurant. Gone was the extensive folder of dishes, replaced by a single sheet detailing everything they have to offer – from quality tequilas and cocktails to nibbles and bigger plates. Even the drinks menu has been pared down to a selection of carefully chosen beers, wines and cocktails. The Tommy’s Margarita is their signature drink and comes highly recommended from me – you can taste the quality of the tequila and the slight sharpness of many margaritas is replaced by a pleasant tang and a sweetness that is dangerous on a Friday night. 

Prawn and Cod Ceviche at Pinche Pinche, Leeds // Amy Elizabeth

We chose our dishes, with eyes bigger than our stomachs, and were overwhelmed when they all arrived at our table. There were some familiar hints from the previous menu, but there’s no doubt that these dishes were more exciting than those that came before. I won’t give you a detailed breakdown – I’ll let you try them for yourself – but I have to sing the praises of the Prawn & Cod Ceviche – a light, fresh dish that’s unlike anything else on the list. If I was to go again, there’s no doubt that would be the first thing I would order, swiftly followed by the Surf & Turf Tacos, which came with a very more-ish Mexican tartare sauce, and the Marinated lamb with Oaxacan cheese Quesadillas, which combined two of my favourite things – tender, slow-cooked meat and melted cheese. 

Surf & Turf Tacos at Pinche Pinche, Leeds // Amy Elizabeth

After our feast, we were absolutely stuffed – three dishes is more than enough each, and with no dish more than £6.50, it’s a bargain of a meal. Of course, I can never resist the churros and had to find space for them, whilst Paul opted for the Crema Mexicana – a Mexican-style crème brûlée flavoured with orange. The churros are always delightfully crunchy, with a soft centre, covered in a sweet chocolate sauce, with a darker, more bitter sauce for dipping which creates a gorgeous contrast of flavours. I only managed half of mine after over-indulging on the main courses, so you could share them if you’re less greedy than me. 

Food at Pinche Pinche, Leeds // Amy Elizabeth

I know that there will be some that are unhappy with the changes at a beloved local restaurant, but I really applaud what Simon and his team are doing  – it’s hard to move away from a formula that’s working but this is an exciting change and one which makes Pinche Pinche an interesting dining experience. We’ve been taking visiting friends there for years, and now we’ll have to start all over again so they can try the new menu! 

Churros at Pinche Pinche, Leeds // Amy Elizabeth

 

Disclaimer: We were invited to try the new menu at Pinche Pinche for free, so our meal was complimentary on this occasion. However, I have paid for many meals at this restaurant and will continue to do so with the new menu – this is truly my favourite restaurant in Leeds and I genuinely recommend you check out those churros! In fact, we actually approached Pinche Pinche to cater our wedding, that’s how much we love it. Sadly that’s not to be (sorry, wedding guests!) so you’ll just have to go yourself and see what I’m talking about. 

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Pinche Pinche, Leeds

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Since I was showing my Uni friends my favourite parts of Leeds, it was only fitting to take them to my favourite restaurant as well. I first discovered Pinche Pinche three years ago at the Leeds Loves Food festival and I’ve been hooked ever since. Living just down the road makes it the perfect spot for date nights, special occasions and just because dinners.

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They have an extensive menu – from mini portions of tacos for starters or sharing to big plates – which means it can take some time to choose! I’ll give you a hand – the lamb is excellent, and if you’re a meat eater, you will seriously regret it if you don’t have at least one lamb dish. It’s melt in your mouth and crazy delicious. I like it in their enchiladas – covered in melted cheese, with a mild green salsa. Paul prefers it in tacos with a spicier version of the salsa – although be warned if you think you’re hard enough for their spiciest version. You’re probably not. I also love their little prawn tacos to start – the mango salsa is lovely and fresh and the prawns are big and juicy. The perfect combination.

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Suffice to say, we were pretty stuffed and decided to pass on pudding on this occasion. However, if you have a sweet tooth like me then the churros are the obvious choice. Who doesn’t love fried dough dipped in chocolate? No one, that’s who.

The best way to end a meal at Pinche Pinche, however, is with one of their tequilas. So many people I know don’t like tequila but when it’s served like this – for sipping, not shooting – it’s totally delicious. One is definitely enough but I can’t resist that one!

I literally cannot rave about Pinche Pinche enough – it’s excellent value for money (I don’t ever part with much more than £30 for drinks and three courses), the service is always friendly and the food is some of the best to be found in Leeds. I’m not the only one who thinks so, so be sure to book if you want to go on a Friday or Saturday!

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Cielo Blanco

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I think if I had to choose my favourite cuisine, it would have to be Mexican.  I know a lot of what we eat in this country is inauthentic but it’s also damn tasty so I think claims of authenticity can be laid to one side. Mexican is one of the things that Paul and I agree on – food-wise. Our tastes are usually polar opposites so that’s a small miracle – we’re even having Mexican food at our wedding for that exact reason! So, it’s probably no surprise that I’ve been wanting to try out Cielo Blanco since it opened last year. When I was invited down to try out their new food menu, I was super excited – as was Paul – and everyone assured us that we were going to love it.

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Branding-wise, they’ve totally got it nailed. From the moment you arrive, the atmosphere is clear – this is a colourful, informal space with hints of Mexican paraphernalia. The table cloths are brightly coloured, the lighting is soft and the ‘trees’ growing out of the middle of the tables outside are inspired.  It was absolutely packed when we arrived and felt a bit hectic but it was Saturday night and I’d rather that than it be dead inside – it actually stayed busy the whole time we were there which is definitely a sign that they’re doing something right!

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The menus are incredibly enticing – there’s the usual fare but so much of it that it’s hard to choose! The cocktails menu is equally exciting – there’s the usual margaritas as you would expect but also quite a few twists on the classics for those who like something a bit different. My Caipirinha De Tangerina was delicious – fruity, refreshing and dangerously easy to drink – whilst Paul’s Paloma was gorgeously tart. I don’t think we could go wrong though – I eye-balled a lot of the cocktails that came past us and they all looked brilliant.

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Being unable to choose just one dish each, we opted for the ‘Street Food Experience’ – six smaller plates for £11.95 per person. This turned out to be ridiculously good value – the table was heaving and we couldn’t manage everything between us. I always feel bad leaving food in a restaurant, but sometimes there’s just no choice! For me, the stand out dishes were the ‘Pork pozole meatballs in a spicy chorizo sauce’ – tender meatballs is a wonderfully smokey and slightly spicy sauce and the fish tacos made with Sol beer battered fish, cooling lime crema and completed with crispy lettuce. The fish had just the right amount of crisp and the lime was the perfect accompaniment. Also worth mentioning are the sweet potato fries with jalapeño aioli, which were completely more-ish. Everything, however, was incredibly tasty and there are yet more dishes that I would like to try from the long list available!

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The only problem with all of this is that it took forever to come! The service was pleasant but painfully slow all evening. Don’t get me wrong, I like a leisurely dinner, but at times it was just uncomfortable. We were almost done with our dinner by the time our second drinks (ordered just as the food started to arrive) reached us, and the food was less than piping hot. I know that it was a busy Saturday but we felt they could have done with a bunch more staff – we weren’t the only ones left waiting – just to make things run a little more smoothly. Having spoken to friends, however, our experience seems to have been the exception to the rule.

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For good Mexican food in Leeds, Pinche Pinche is still my favourite, but in town the Mexican options are sorely lacking so Cielo Blanco is a welcome addition. The food is good enough that I’m not put off going again, and fingers crossed next time they’re a little bit more speedy!

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Pinche Pinche, Chapel Allerton, Leeds

After the foodfest that was Leeds Loves Food (and after not doing any food shopping for over a week…) we decided to take a trip to Pinche Pinche in Chapel Allerton, Leeds. I’ve been wanting to go for a while, and having a go on their soft shell slow-cooked lamb tacos at the festival was more than enough motivation! I was not disappointed. I know that I am enthusiastic about many things, but please take my positive review seriously here, because you too will not be disappointed either.

Photo by Pinche Pinche 

The restaurant in beautifully decorated (sort of how I’d like my house to be!) with brightly coloured walls and lots to look at. It was quiet when we went in, but we were there at an unusual time and I understand it can get rather busy! Understandably, as it is reasonably priced and absolutely delicious.

The service was excellent, attentive but not overly so. We had margaritas to start, and then I had the prawn enchiladas and Paul had chicken quesadillas. Both were perfectly cooked, although I was a little taken aback by the habenero salsa that Paul had smeared all over his when I went to take a bite! He was very pleased, he hates when he orders the spicy option and it comes out milder than the stuff we make at home! I, wimp that I am, opted for the salsa verde which wasn’t spicy at all so fear not if that’s not your cup of tea! We also had some tortilla chips (which were beautiful) and dips, a lime and tequila dip which you could have drunk it was so good, and some spicy pineapple mayonnaise. My enchiladas were exquisite and the prawns were beautifully cooked – I’ll be trying to recreate these at home but I’m not sure they’ll be quite as good!

For dessert Paul had an orange shortbread with vanilla ice cream, and I had the strawberry Natillas (a Mexican custard a little like creme brulee – my favourite!) We ate them too fast for me to get a picture, however!

The whole meal (including tip) came to £50 for the two of us – which I thought was very reasonable given that at least £20 of that went on alcohol! You could definitely eat here for cheaper though, if you avoid the cocktails! All in all, an excellent meal – five stars from me (out of five, obviously!)

*Plus this means that I’ve started crossing stuff off’ve my 50 Things To Do Before Summer is Over list!

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