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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.