With a rake of new openings in the recent past, the Dubs are going Tex-Mex mad for filling cheap eats of all shapes, sizes and strength of chilli pepper hotness. Burritos are the new panini, it would seem, and with this taste-value ratio it's not hard to see why. From new takeaway bars such as Burritos & Blues and Pablo Picante to old stalwarts like Café Azteca and Taco Taco that are still doing their good hot stuff for now even keener prices, we’re loving the Dublin Mexican wave.
Burrito & Blues, 2 Wexford Street, Dublin 2
Literally just open, this funky little corner space couldn’t be more welcome in the young, happening end of town that is its new neighbourhood. Build your own burrito how you like it – with a choice of four strengths of hot sauce from mild to ‘blow-your-head-off’ salsa – or choose a house favourite such as the Silver Bullet ‘king of burritos’ with all the trimmings. Quick and tasty on the hoof or sitting in listening to some suitably delicious blues, this burrito bar won’t be long becoming a local favourite.
Pablo Picante, 131 Baggot Street, Dublin 2
Another burrito bar that opened to much aplomb last year, Pablo Picante is one part serious Tex-Mex street food, one part masked Mexican wrestler (we kid you not, check out his effigy on the walls of the establishment!) Perhaps the menacing figure represents the power of their house made chilli sauce, as demonstrated in the legendary heat of the ‘Super Picc,’ that’s reported to be hotter than most can handle. Whatever he means, the quality of the food – such as the Carnitas of slow roast pulled pork or the filling Victorio Verde veggie burrito replete with zingy house made guacamole – as well as great value prices, have people queuing out the door daily. Get there early for lunch.
Boojum, Millenium Walkway, Dublin 1
Inspired by the no-nonsense taquerias of Mexico, the young owners behind Boojum brought their take on the concept first to Belfast and now to Dublin. The idea is fast food based on fresh ingredients, great flavour and good value, and, in the words of Lady Gaga, hot like Mex-i-co! Burritos are built to order with a choice of salsas: mild tomato or corn, medium heat tangy salsa verde, or smoky hot salsa roja. The result is fresh, healthy and super tasty. Their well-known value extends to good student deals too.
Sabores de Mexico, Harcourt Street (Thursday), Temple Bar and Leopardstown Markets
“Muy Auténtico y muy bueuno! This is the first and only time I've found real Mexican food in Ireland in the last four years,” gushed one enthusiast for Gustavo and Theresa Hernandez’s authentic street food. Newly installed at the Harcourt Street food market, Sabores de Mexico has been on the Dublin market circuit for some time. Fancy a chorizo taco with frijoles refritos and homemade salsa? You’ll also find them at the Temple Bar Market on Saturdays, Leopardstown on Fridays, or further a field in Brooklodge in Wicklow on the first Sunday of every month.
Cactus Jacks, Millennium Walkway (Middle Abbey St), Dublin 1
A good value restaurant offering a range of Tex-Mex and steak dinners, including some nice coeliac and vegetarian options, Cactus Jacks is becoming a hit with Dubs and visitors alike. Possibly most striking on the menu are the prices. With an early bird offer of three courses for €19.95 including a glass of house wine or soft drink, daily from 4 to 7pm, or the three for €10 tapas deal, or the free meals for kids under 12 on Sundays, you get a lot of spicy bang for your buck.
Cortina’s, The Pembroke District , Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin 14
More delicious and filling Mexican food, this time as an oasis in the retail jungle that is the Dundrum Centre. This recently opened restaurante offers everything from Mexican style tapas and sandwiches to starters and mains. Salsas such as mango, lime and chilli and salsa de mole are made in house, and the smoky corn chowder entrada is a popular choice. These folks know their achote from their agave, just beware cocktail offers that may not be all that they seem.
Cafe Azteca, 19 - 21 Lord Edward Street, Dublin 2
This cheap and cheerful Mexican café has been pleasing the crowd for some time now, with its simple and great value snack food based on good ingredients – to which its evening cookery classes can attest. That’s right, Café Azteca not only serves up great tomales, pozole and taquitos, it also gives lessons on how to make them. Now open late from Thursday to Saturday, look out for its huevos rancheros wrap with fresh homemade salsa for breakfast.
Taco Taco, Epicurean Food Hall, Liffey Street Lower, Dublin 1
It’s hard to beat the value of a Taco Taco taco. When it comes to fast food, this is hard to beat all round. Service is friendly and the food is delicious, with more Mexican snack foods than you can shake a stick at, from tostada (corn tortilla fried in oil) to mollete (Mexican style crusty roll with refried beans and filling), sincronizada (filling between two tortillas) to grilled chicken torta (deep fried tortilla with chicken filling including fresh green tomatillo salsa), and all the usual suspects too. It’s no wonder regulars describe themselves as addicted to Taco Taco. With this kind of deliciousness available this cheaply and conveniently, it wouldn’t be hard.