28 Leadenhall Market, EC3V 1LR
Tel: 020 7929 7837
Cost per person without wine: £8
IF you go down to Leadenhall Market today at about one o’clock, round towards the bottom of the Lloyds building, you’ll see a big, big queue. It only opened a few weeks ago, but already Tortilla has become a fixture for hungry, spice-loving City workers.
This is the fifth in the quickly-expanding Cal-Mex chain. Interestingly, it is spreading at just the same time that the American burrito chain Chipotle has launched into London. (By the way, the name does not rhyme with “bottle” as some people seem to think, but is pronounced chip-ot-lay.) Add in Wahaca and Chilango, and it’s clear that Mexican of various sorts is the hottest fast-food of the moment.
The first thing to say about Tortilla is that those queues aren’t just a result of its popularity. They need to seriously speed up their service. Being laid-back is nice, but not at lunchtime. Arriba, arriba!
Anyway, the deal is that it’s a pick-and-mix of fillings for your burrito. There’s a choice of three meats – grilled chicken (pollo asado), pork (carnitas) and steak (carne asada) – pinto or black beans, guacamole (at 70p extra, believe it or not), Monterey Jack cheese, rice and so on.
The first time I went I had the beans, and while it was nice it didn’t have the fresh zing and contrast that you need. You want a hit of guacamole in one bite, then a blast of chilli in the next, cooled by sour cream. This was a spicy mush. The second time I went for the carnitas. Oddly, this was also underwhelming, lacking that deep, piggy flavour.
Still, maybe I’m being too fussy. This is not San Francisco. The hordes of customers seem to be happy, and for a warming belly-filler this winter there’s not a lot in the City to match it. I’ll be back. Soon.