I dunno if you noticed, but I love Mexican food. On my travels in Southeast Asia, I was lucky enough to spend a considerable amount of time with my Mexican friend, Edgar. He told me all about what Mexicans eat. And crucially, what they don’t eat, and interestingly, the difference between ‘Tex-Mex’ and ‘Mexicali’ variations of their original, authentic food.
It’s a compliment however, when the people of Texas and California copy the flavours of Mexico and invent their own dishes. Like crispy fish tacos and burritos. But recently I went to try some vegan Mexican food in Manchester (Chorlton-cum-hardy)! Here’s what I thought…
In this cute little whiskey and cocktail bar in Chorlton-cum-hardy, they have a new resident chef. The lovely Kelly from Los Antojitos specialises in fresh, tasty, vegan Mexican food up until now served as a pop-up. But she’s made the jump into ‘bricks and mortar’ and now has a permanent spot in Cask and Kiln on Wilbraham Road.
The bar and drinks
The bar is bigger than it looks from the outside. Once you enter through the covered, heated outdoor terrace, the building just seems to keep on going. At the back, they have a pool room playing loud indie music but the front bar is a bit more chill if you want to chat as you eat and drink. It was pretty busy for a Saturday night, and we decided to sit in the front bar area, right next to the ‘beer’ sign on high tables. There’s a street fighter game machine in there too!
As it’s a whiskey joint, we tried their Classic Old Fashioned. It was pretty good, I think they said it’s sweetened with syrup. It was nice, but not nice enough to convince me that whiskey is the drink for me! So I ordered a Juice Springsteen craft IPA which is tropical AF. For me, a much better accompaniment to the spicy, Mexican food! There was loads of cocktails to choose from too, which all have their own brand on the menu, which I thought was pretty cool.
The menu is pretty limited at the moment. It’s kind of all snacky with some things like the burrito and the ‘veg dogs’ being more substantial. The “Col Veg Wings” is a bit of a mystery on the menu so I asked what it was. Turned out it was crispy-fried cauliflower, so I was like yep, sold!
Personally, I would have liked to have seen more taco variations on the menu as I think they’re so much better than hot dogs (and more Mexican!) But with so many ‘dogs’ to choose from I thought I best try one, to see what all the fuss is about.
Overall, the food was pretty good. The cauli wings and actual wings (sorry vegans) were ACE. The cauliflower ones were just perfect: crunchy, spicy, great dipped in the homemade chilli sauce (which gives Nandos a run for it’s money!) and my trusted associate confirmed the chicken wings were banging, too. And they looked it!
Next, we tried the ‘veg dog’, and I must admit, I had a bit of beef with it. The best bit, hands down, was the bean chilli it was topped with. It had so much flavour and an incredible texture. I know how tricky it can be go get a vegan bean chilli as tasty as a beef one, so hats off to Kelly as hers is amazing and I’m gonna consider adding chickpeas to mine next time, as she does!
However, I was not so keen on the ‘veg dog’. It was a vegan hotdog, and I don’t know, I just didn’t enjoy it at all. I should have ordered the chilli fries, not dog, as that’s on the menu too and I think I would have enjoyed that more. Topped with vegan cheese ad fresh coriander, I highly recommend the chilli and fries!
As for the burrito, well again – bean chilli, couldn’t fault it. The vegan cheese used was great and the accompaniments (guacamole, fresh pickles, coriander, hot sauce) really brought it all together. I just had one gripe, the rice was a little on the soggy side. But, after the meal, I told the chef, and we chatted about how she was just getting to grips with her new kitchen setup (this was only 4 days in!) and assured me the rice is usually on point! So I’m excited to back and grab another burrito sometime.
We also tried the enfrijoladas (tortillas in a black bean sauce). I *think* these are the most authentic Mexican thing on the menu, and they were delicious! If you have a sweet tooth, they’re served with a fruity mango salsa too and Kelly’s classic bean chilli. Messy finger food at it’ finest! 😋
Vegan food in Manchester
Overall I think Los Antojitos having a bricks and mortar place is a great idea that will take off, benefiting both Kelly and Cask and Kiln. It was a Saturday night, it was busy, drinks were flowing and people were eating vegan food and having a great time. Which was great to see! It’s incredible that the vegan food scene in Manchester is taking off so much, as it’s so good to have that bit of extra variation!
Thinking about going vegan? Or just eating less meat and more veg? Then read my thoughts on Flexitarianism and how I’m learning to incorporate more plant-based meals into my diet.