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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Gringos Burrito Grill: Mexican Delivery-Only Restaurant Back in Maadi
Mexican cuisine is scarce amongst Cairo restaurants, so losing one of the only places that churns it out was upsetting, to say the least. After a hiatus that left many of the Maadi foodie community in desperate need of a good burrito, Gringos - everyone's favourite Mexican delivery-only restaurant - has reopened for service to the relief of many.
After much anticipation and a social media countdown, we called up Gringos to place an order. We opted for a Grilled Steak Classic with Guacamole (52LE), a Machaca Shredded Beef with Guacamole (54LE), a Chicken Taco Salad (28LE) and Nachos with Cheese and Jalapenos (16LE).
Our food arrived roughly thirty minutes later in some newly designed packaging. The food was hot on arrival and we were also sent complimentary Chips and Salsa dish with Black Bean Dip on account of their re-opening.
The Chicken Taco Salad, consisting of lettuce topped with pico de gallo, corn chips, grilled chicken and Gringos garlic dressing, was full of flavour, although the pico de gallo dominated a little. The corn chips created an interesting texture mix while the garlic dressing fused all the flavours together.
The Nachos with Cheese and Jalapenos was generous in portion; the chips were nice and crunchy but, overall, the melted cheese was a little too on the greasy side.
The burritos, both filled with shredded cheese, black beans, cilantro lime, rice, pico de gallo and sour cream, only differ in the kind of meat. The Grilled Steak offers slightly chewy chunks of beef while the Machaca has shredded beef that requires no extra chewing but, rather, melts in your mouth.
The burritos are very filling, and very delicious, but an important factor we noticed is that the ingredients are layered rather than mixed, which in turn leaves you with uneven bites-some consisting entirely of black beans and rice or sour cream and guacamole, the trick is to ask for the ingredients to be mixed when you place your order.
Needless to say, Gringos has been sorely missed; maybe nostalgia is playing with our stomachs, but - dare we say it - it's even better than we remember.
This year, Sheikh Zayed restaurant, Izakaya, introduced a new fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cuisines and has been a hit with diners. It’s been such a hit, in fact, that the same team behind it have also opened Mezcal; a restaurant in Zamalek that serves, as they call it, ‘new age’ Peruvian and Mexican cuisine.
Located at the New President Hotel on the same floor where Amici once stood – Mezcal’s kitchen is now where the bar was – the spacious restaurant and bar has a good variety of seating arrangements; comfy, living room-like couches, high tables next to the huge bar and more basic tables-and-chairs arrangement for dining. The cool, dark colour scheme, the fer forgé elements and calm lighting come together for an elegant ambiance.
Our finger food fiesta of appetisers started with Shrimp Tempura Taco (80LE); two mini soft-shell tacos, each filled with a piece of jumbo shrimp coated with a flawless tempura batter, which is complimented by fresh pico de gallo, a mild spicy kick from the chilli mayo and richness of the creamy avocado, as well as extra pickled green chilli pepper and a zesty squeeze of lemon. Despite being smaller than one might expect, the shrimp tempura tacos had a terrific balance of flavours.
The small portions extended to the Pulled Beef Tostada (70LE), too, but so did the big flavours. The dish came in form of three mini, circular, deep fried tortilla chips topped with pulled short rib meat, parmesan cheese and chalaquita. We loved the integration of the Peruvian chalaquita which replaced the more Mexican-used pico de gallo, and the choice of tender short ribs was perfect for the beef centrepiece.
When it comes to the two cuisines, Peruvian is more dominant in the main dishes, but there’s an Asian influence that is apparent in the Chicken Anticucho (90LE) which had an exquisite marinade that consisted of aji Amarillo – yellow hot pepper paste – apple cider vinegar and pineapple teriyaki. Impressively, each component of the marinade contributed to the overall flavour – the pineapple surprised us the most – and made for delicious and tender chicken thigh skewers full of sweet and spicy flavours. Meanwhile, the side of corn and crispy potato cubes salad under the skewers absorbed some of those flavours, too.
The Chifa Baby Chicken (145LE), meanwhile, was excellent, despite the skin needing to be a little crisper. The tender chicken is smothered in a mixture of Sriracha, Oyster sauce (more Asian influence) and Peruvian chilli, and although it's delicious, this is a dish that only real lovers of spicy food will be able to handle, thanks to the generous use of Peruvian chillies and Sriracha.
We finished our meal with the magnificent Tres Leches (75LE) for dessert; a super-moist sponge cake soaked in a mixture of three types of milk, surrounded by mixed berries and chocolate chips and topped with whipped cream and a dust of cinnamon. In short, the dessert was perfect; the cake had a strong caramel flavour which worked perfectly with the cinnamon, the occasional chocolate burst from the chocolate chips was a nice surprise and the whipped cream and mixed berries balanced the overall sweetness.
All in all, there was little to complain about at the time of our visit to Mezcal. We were impressed with the staff’s knowledge of the complex dishes, the elegant ambiance was perfect and the food was full of bright, complex flavours – we just wish everything was a little bigger.