Open Tuesday to Sunday 12.30pm to 10.30pm. 224-230 London Road, Sheffield S2 4NA
The first time I ate in a Mexican café was on Mission Street in San Francisco in 1979.
It was a different world then.
The UK was the legendary home of stodge and simplicity.
Sure, there were Chinese, Indian and Italian restaurants in every city but the prevailing culinary culture was somewhere between Berni Inn and boil it to death.
So when the food arrived in that rather-too-authentic little Mexican cantina 36 years ago the only thing I recognised was the rice.
The rest was in shapes, colours and textures that were new, strange and a little intimidating.
To my ignorant English tourist eyes this wasn’t just ‘foreign’ food it was completely alien.
Now in our multicultural, multitudinous extravaganza of exotic and exciting flavours, Mexican is everywhere.
We all eat tacos, burritos and salsa. We all love nachos, tortilla chips are as common as crisps, no-one is scared of jalapenos now and we can all tell our chimichangas from our churros with eyes closed.
We even have a couple of Taco Bell fast food franchises in Sheffield now to go alongside the seriously good Street Food Café outlets – among many others.
Amigos Mexican Kitchen always looks busy on the teeming strip of international cuisine that is London Road, a light, fun and inviting place with big windows and seats right up to the glass.
We are greeted with a smile on arrival and the place is packed, mostly with what look like students, at 7pm on a Tuesday.
There is a mezzanine floor which seats 45 and gives the place a different aspect, it’s an attractive, modern setting with 100 covers in total.
We are seated at a table a little awkwardly positioned near counter and toilets which actually turned out to be a good thing (more later).
They don’t sell alcohol at Amigos. When I asked why the waiter said they have no licence but did point out the shop across the road and said there’s a £1 corkage charge for opening bottles.
I paid £2.78 for two excellent Singha beers from across the road at the beautifully named Steers Beers.
We order lamb and vegetable empanadas and chilli spiced chicken wings for starters.
The empanadas – a pasty/samosa creation had a light and crisp outer and a tasty, spiced centre.
Both are good with plenty of filling and flavour though it wasn’t easy to tell the difference between the two.
The hot chilli chicken wings were just that with good flavour and heat. We also had between us a plate of nachos with salsa and cheese sauce.
I love nachos and these were home made and very good as was the delicious salsa, one of the best I’ve tasted anywhere .The dips were excellent, fresh guacamole, sour cream and the ubiquitous and lovely salsa.
It was at about this time that the water sketch started.
Before going across the road for the beers we asked for water for the table.
We asked again when the main course came and were told: ‘certainly’ with a smile.
Earlier I said we were at a table next to the counte. Well in the end we reached up to the counter and got our own water from one of the jugs waiting to be served.
For main courses we ordered a beef steak burrito and a chicken mole chimichanga.
These look pretty alike when they arrive, both with salad and tortilla chips, the main difference being that the chimichanga is a deep- fried flour tortilla, the burrito is not fried.
My chicken mole (from the Spanish ‘molli’ meaning ‘sauce’) had rice, beans and cheese in the wrap along with lots of tender and spiced chicken and guacamole.
A great combination and plenty of it, as was the burrito wrap which came with chunks of tender beef, beans, rice, cheese, jalapeno peppers and sour cream.
This is not sophisticated food but it is fun, tasty, filling and relatively cheap, there’s a lot to be said for all those qualities.
“We don’t have a licence for alcohol, a lot of the people who eat here are Muslim so we don’t get a lot of drinkers,” said Amigos service and marketing manager Muhammad Ihsanul Haq later.
“The chef and owner is an Indian called Khalid Wani who worked for 20 years in the US and Mexico as well as Dubai and was head chef at Kenwood Hall at Nether Edge. We make 90 per cent of our own food and the rest comes from the local market. We are looking to expand in Sheffield or nearby.”
For dessert we had vanilla cheesecake and key lime pie. The cheesecake was creamy and rich but not outstanding. The Key Lime pie had more flavour and texture and both came with a raspberry coulis described on the menu as ‘Raspberry Collie’.
We needed a box for the desserts which only arrived at the second time of asking. Amigos is a buzzing little place with good and gutsy food. A little more attention to service detail would make a big difference.
Three courses with water came to £36.60.