2nd August 2015 6.30pm
El Cartel is a little Mexican on Thistle Street. As it is small you cannot pre-book so it is a gamble as to whether there will be a table available for you on arrival. Luckily we didn’t have that problem but the place was quite busy. The menu is relatively short but still full of tasty treats, all of which sounded tempting. Whilst there is some choice, the main staple is tacos. We opted for duck carnitas and carne asadas (which came in pairs) and also went for some red rice and bombers, which were jalapeño cheese bites. We also ordered the obligatory frozen margaritas. We both went for the apple and apricot version that was on offer on the specials board (although it was a bit confusing as to whether they were two separate flavours or combined until we ordered).
The food came out quickly. Firstly we got the bombers. There were four of these and were of a generous size. They sat in a small amount of sauce that had a spicy kick to it. I have to say I was expecting cheese stuffed in a chilli, however it turned out to be chillies cut up into the cheese. That wasn’t a problem though as they still had great flavour. Then came the tacos and the rice. The tacos stood in stands, although they were a little difficult to get out and onto the plate without spilling any and ended up being a knife and fork job rather than using hands. That said, these were delicious and my preferred type of taco with a soft encasing rather than a hard crisp type one. They even seemed slightly healthy with seeds adorning them. The duck was crispy and surprisingly went very well with the pineapple, which was charred to give extra dimension. The carne asadas had a bit of spice and kick but the steak was soft and cooked just how I like it. The rice had plenty of flavour and there was more than enough for two. If we had a bit more room in our stomachs we may have taken the option of three sides together.
Service had been speedy throughout but when water was topped up it was done with haste and splashed into the food, which wasn’t the end of the world but a bit of a shame. As all the food came really quickly, we found we didn’t actually spend a great deal of time in here but we certainly enjoyed the food and is great for a quick pit stop.
Overall – 31/40
Cost – £35 for two sets of tacos a side and another dish plus two frozen margaritas.