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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