“ Address: 12 Gray's Inn Rd / London / England / WC1X 8HG „
I was in central London recently and needed a quick, early supper. I love Mexican food and have often wondered why London has never seemed to latch on to the idea of Mexican fast food in the same way they have in the States. We've got all their fast food burger joints, so why not the tortillas too?
But recently more and more Mexican food joints have started to crop up - London now has three branches of wahaca, as well as Chilango near Angel, Islington and Chipotle in Charing Cross. Mas Burritos has two branches in London - one on St Martins Lane and the one I went in to at the Chancery Lane end of Grays Inn Road.
The outlet was quite small, with a serving counter along one wall, and a wooden bar lining two walls, with high barstools for people to perch on. There were no other tables so the option is to perch facing the wall or take your burrito away.
The service counter immediately reminded me of Subway. You choose your style of meal, the filling, your sauce and your salads and watch your snack get made right before your eyes.
So first you choose your type of meal. Not many options here - you either go for a Mas Burrito or a Fajita Burrito (both are torillas with rice - the only real difference is that the first comes with beans, and the second comes with onions, peppers and chillies), a Naked Burrito (no tortilla) or soft or hard tacos.
Then you choose your filling. The choices here are:
Finally you choose whether you want mild, medium or fiery salsa, sour cream, cheese and veggies.
I chose to have the Fajita Burrito with Chicken Tinga. The flour tortilla was placed into what looked like a pannini grill, or George Foreman machine, for a few seconds to heat it up. Watching it being made, I was a little disappointed by the small spoonfuls of each ingredient that went in and I would definitely have liked more chicken! However, once the burrito was all put together it certainly looked pretty chunky. It was also folded up like a pillow rather than rolled like a tortilla, and given another few seconds in the grill before being wrapped tightly in foil and presented to me on a paper plate with a plastic fork. So I paid my £5.50 (only the steak option is more at £6) and went to perch on a bar stool at the edge with the one or two other early diners in the joint.
A really nice touch as I sat down were the tiny little cacti all round the edges of the tables. There were also bottles of hot Mexican sauce for those who needed to spice up their food a little more.
On to the taste test. I was concerned that the meal would be extremely messy and prepared myself for bits to roll down my face and fall everywhere on first bite, and I was pleased that I was facing the wall at the back. But on first bite I didn't lose any of my filling - the burrito was expertly packed. I have to say it tasted good - the chicken was pleasantly spicy and the sour cream gave it a nice tang. The other fillings - the rice and salsa - weren't very tasty and I have to say that the medium salsa wasn't hot at all. But I did enjoy eating my meal and, yes, I did get a few bits and pieces dropping out along the way. I was quite full at the end of the burrito, so it was certainly a good enough portion of food for me.
This is definitely a place for solo diners - the seating isn't conducive to having a romantic chat or fun in a group, and as it's a bit of a messy job it can be a little anti-social. For a pretty filling meal in central London, the price wasn't too bad, and the girl who served me was very friendly. However, as I was leaving she was nowhere to be seen, and in fact someone came in and walked straight out again as there was no-one to serve her - not a great way to run a business! As well as the options listed above, there are a few breakfast options served before 11am, and you can also get nachos. A final thought - I think it's a bit mean that the veggie option costs the same as the meat options!
Overall I would definitely go here again to grab a quick bite to eat, as I found the food reasonably tasty and pretty filling. But I wouldn't say this is authentic Mexican food at its best and I would prefer it if the food had been a little bit tastier and a bit bigger on spices.