Our guest blogger reviews Tortilla’s new restaurant at the Lakeside shopping centre in Grays…
For a quick and affordable meal that doesn’t compromise on taste or quality, grab a burrito from Tortilla’s new outlet in the recently refurbished food hall at the Lakeside shopping centre. Step into the industrial-chic interior and take in the buzzing, American diner-style atmosphere, before tucking into authentic Mexican food, California style.
For the uninitiated, burritos feature a soft flour tortilla packed with a choice of sumptuous fillings – an ideal choice for a speedy lunch or a filling meal at the end of the working day. The Tortilla restaurants are part of a growing trend for fast food that is freshly prepared from wholesome ingredients.
Brandon Stephens and his wife Jen opened the first Tortilla restaurant in Islington in 2007, after a long search for burritos that matched those they enjoyed in Brandon’s native San Francisco. Although it has expanded a lot since then, the company is still a family-run affair. Most Tortilla restaurants are London-based, but branches have recently opened in Leeds, Southampton and Brighton. The new walk-in restaurant at Lakeside is the 16th Tortilla branch, and the number is incorporated into the stylish black-and-white wallpaper – in fact, each Tortilla restaurant is decorated with its number, which adds a nice sense of continuity and community.
The quality of the ingredients remains a priority for this eatery. The pollo asado is made from barn-reared chicken, the carna asada and barbacoa use farm-assured Scottish beef, and the carnitas are made with outdoor-reared pork. The chillies are imported from Mexico and other produce is delivered daily to each restaurant. Sustainability is also important to the Tortilla team – they are proud to have achieved a two-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, the highest given to a burrito restaurant group.
Opt for a medium or large tortilla and your server will warm it up before you select the fillings. Choose from marinated chargrilled chicken or steak, shredded braised beef or slow-cooked pork. Add rice, white or black beans, peppers and onions, or finely grated Monterey Jack cheese, and top with hot salsa and cool sour cream to complete the feast. Vegetarians can opt for zingy guacamole, freshly made from Hass avocados, along with other fillings. Tasty Mexican tacos are on offer too, and you can also ‘go naked’ and have your selections served in a bowl rather than a tortilla or taco if you want a lower-calorie option. It’s an efficient and convenient way to eat out – you can even order ahead online and collect in store. Accompany your meal with a cool Margarita, a lager served with a twist of lime from the wide selection, or one of the many soft drinks on offer. Our burritos of choice were the shredded braised beef, and the guacamole – both were extremely flavoursome and obviously made with quality produce.
If you would like to re-create Tortilla’s wonderful guacamole at home, take advantage of one of the demonstrations held in the restaurants from time to time, where you can watch an expert mashing a variety of vegetables, herbs and spices with avocados, and then have a go at making some yourself.
Be sure to ask for a loyalty card when you visit – when you collect ten stamps, you’ll get your next burrito free. Even more reason to come back time and again to try all of Tortilla’s tasty burritos.