Chida Cantina Leeds Review by Rosita Rogers – Follow @zitttttta on Twitter
Having just returned from a trip to Mexico, I felt dubious when hearing of yet another Mexican eatery opening in Leeds. So far my experience of Mexican restaurants in Leeds hasn’t really been worth shouting about. In comparison to the great pizza, tapas, charcuterie bars and other regional tastes on offer, I’ve always felt like Leeds is a few steps behind places like Manchester or London. Low and behold, when discovering Chida Cantina, I immediately felt like it had filled a large part of that missing gap in the market. All we need now is a raw Mexican street food ying to its finer dining yang and we’re there! (hint hint to anyone thinking of doing it, now would be a Holy time). What used to be Sandinista is now Chida Cantina to anyone wondering where I’m referring to. If you’re unsure, it’s next door to Belgrave, opposite Vice and Virtue. Sandinista celebrated it’s last NYE and closed its doors for the big refurb and opening of Chida, which took place a few weeks ago.
The drinking part… So I started off with their house margarita. I’d previously tried it at the launch and to be honest, I’d say it was nonpareil to a city that boasts such high-end cocktail bars. Lee from Smokestack wrote the cocktail menu for Chida and nothing can be faulted.
The dining part.. I dined with a male friend of mine this time, and we went for five tacos, which I’d recommend if you’re looking for a lighter meal. If you’re having dinner and not planning on getting too boozy later, then I’d say go for all of them or maybe try the sharing board which.
Barbacao: slow cooked beef cheek, charred sweetcorn and spring onion crema, the ingredients in this really appealed to my friend more because he knows how hard beef cheek is to cook and he appreciated the tenderness of the meat.
Pescado: Baja Fish, lime infused red cabbage, lime aioli. Some might argue that fish tacos are the measure of a cantina’s true ability. I can’t really comment on this as I’ve never been a fan of deep fried fish and these didn’t really win me over. But I can comment on the flavour and it definitely wasn’t lacking.
Chida Al Pastor: Pork belly, caramelised pineapple, ni pek (Mayan salsa). For someone that doesn’t like pork belly, I’d say this completely changed my mind. The caramelised pineapple added a welcome zesty bite to the perfectly sticky pork belly. I’d highly recommend trying it along with Colifor: Roasted cauliflower, pequin chilli sweet potato, chipotle mayo, sesame seeds. This was my favourite. Everything in it appealed to me and just made my food venture. The pequin chilli sweet potato, on paper, sounded like an authentically original concept that in turn was severely out-shined by the simplistic perfection of the roasted cauliflower.
Lastly the Carne: Steak, chipotle & jalapeño slaw and toasted pumpkins. I love steak, the meat in this was cooked to perfection, but I did feel like it was lacking in an area, but can’t quite put my finger on it. As for the price, I’d say it falls into the typical city centre range with it being a higher end ‘street food’ restaurant, but nothing to worry about if you are on a budget. Service was great which is expected from someone like Skippy the Owner.
Chida Cantina and Bar, 5 Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds LS2 8JP (walk ins only)
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