Chida Cantina: The best tacos and tequila in Leeds?
When I hear the news that a bar or restaurant has shut down in Leeds, I often find myself thinking ‘Yeah, well it was a bit shit wasn’t it?’ But, this of course wasn’t the case with Sandinista.
The Latin-inspired watering hole had become part of the furniture in the thriving Northern Quarter, and so there were plenty of tears over New Year when they said their last goodbyes.
However, fear not. Chida Cantina opens in its place this Friday, and is not only awesome, but set up by the same team behind Sandinista. Think of it as a Mexican rebirth.
I attended a preview of the new menu a few weeks ago with a friend, and we were both blown away from start to finish.
Tequila, tequila, tequila…
As Chida wasn’t quite ready to open its doors at this point, the event was held upstairs at The Black Swan, where we were greeted with a zingy Chida Margarita, which was perfect given it was ‘National Margarita Day.’
And the drinks didn’t stop flowing all night. As well as sampling several other Chida cocktails, co-owner Skippy came round to see that each table got the chance to knock back shots of his finest tequila, of which the Los Abuelos Blanco stood out for me.
Now I love booze, and I love tequila, but I’ve never met anyone as genuinely passionate for the Mexican staple as this guy – he may well even bathe in the stuff.
Taco, tacos, tacos…
So, onto the food. Whilst I’ve always considered fajitas to be the cornerstone of hearty, Mexican food, the tacos at Chida were something else and made me revaluate this.
Of the five variants on offer, the steak and chicken were my two favourites, but even the veggie cauliflower option packed a flavoursome punch.
Served in miniature, soft flour tacos, and packed with tasty ingredients, they were a million miles from the sad little Old El Paso stand and stuffs I’ve made at home (that always fall apart without fail).
And then for the finale, out came the duck. Slow cooked and served with avocado, red chilli and more soft tortillas, this was the stand-out dish of the night for me, truly amazing.
As preview events go, this night separated the good from the great. Skippy and his team have carefully crafted a food and drink menu that uses only the best ingredients, and the execution was masterful, and his enthusiasm infectious.
Bring on the opening, this is the kind of place that Leeds needs more of, and a worthy replacement to the mighty Sandinista.