Monday, 5 August 2013

Dining and w(h)ining in Helsinki: Cholo

I have been meaning to medicate the bad taste left in my mouth by the sad mediocrity of Pueblo Bar y Taqueria at Patrona, which, by all accounts is far superior. It has also gained some notoriety with its customer service, which many have found condescending. Since then the people behind Patrona have opened another joint Cholo, that makes sure people are being fed also during lunch hour. Reviews have all been positive - the only criticism came from a colleague who commented how, though good, service is only available in English.

My own neighbourhood has become home to yet another entrepreneur specialized in Mexican street food: Tortilla House's food truck that also made an appearance at World bites - food festival. But it doesn't have a patch on Cholo.

This minuscule place on Lönnrotinkatu has become so wildly popular that you'll have to wait for your food for a good 20 minutes. But the two-man-staff works hard flipping those tortillas with a positive attitude.

The interior is every bit as laid back as the food. While waiting for the food, the diners can feast their eyes on the fantastic photographs capturing scenes of Mexican streets and their cuisine. 

Menu is compact but well thought through. There's flour burrito, street taco and tostada both made of corn and naked burrito (that's salad for you and me). There are five fillings: chicken, beef-chorizo-potato and, slow roasted pork belly and two vegetarian options. To top it all off there are three salsas: salsa verde, chile chipotle and chile habanero.  Each is priced democratically the same and  price is a little shy of €10.

And the tortillas? Well home-made, claro que si!

Chicken was good, but it doesn't really ever get me giddy anyway. Beef was tasty, though just  a tad on the dry side. Chile chipotle surprised with its mildness - at least I clearly need to straight for the strongest of salsas: habanero.

Carnita, the most popular of choices had already sold out. Considering the complicated relationship I have shared with pork, it has made a surprising entry to my can't-live-without- list. I blame all the time I've spent in Spain. Especially in the slow roasted, succulently fatty form it is just impossible to resist. So, I knew I'd have to come back. To get a taste of that deliciousness.

Since I can't get here for lunch, I had to return the following Saturday. On Saturdays they open at noon, by which there was already a queue at the door. And though it wasn't quite as juicy as I'd anticipated, it's clear why it is el numero uno. I would have personally loved a bit more coriandery freshness, but even still I was reduced to a mumbling pile of happiness. Muy bien. 

And come third time I just might learn to wear something other than white...

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