I know food reviews of chain restaurants often aren’t appreciated as much as those of independent places which haven’t yet been visited by half of Portsmouth. But does this mean they shouldn’t ever be done? No.
Because for the other half, those who haven’t tried Chimichanga because they’re wondering if they’ll get something authentic and tasty, or a rubbish clone of a recipe done time and time again across the chain’s 30-plus UK restaurants, this review may help.
Chimichanga is a ‘Tex Mex’ restaurant – a blend of American and Mexican cuisine. There are burgers, chicken, steak and ribs, paired with the ‘Mex’ dishes – fajitas, quesadillas and so on. If you don’t like salsa, guacamole or sour cream, you’re going to be limited in choice. I found it hard to choose between the Mex classics – the enchilada, burrito or chimichanga – which only really differ in the way they’re made or presented.
You can have spicy pulled chicken, beef, pork, or veggie bean chilli inside. I opted for the veggie bean chilli enchilada and a Santa Fe veggie sampler for two to share with my friend to start, plus a side of regular and sweet potato fries. Disappointingly there was no veggie burger option, but the value was good with the majority of mains, not all, between £10 and £14.
Once my food and drink orders had been taken by the nice but shy staff, I took in the atmosphere, which felt warm and cosy.
I felt at ease chatting away in the half-full restaurant around the combination of couples, friends and families. However, the Chimichanga website says ‘eating out should be fun, and our restaurants always bring the fiesta with party-starting tunes and a Chimichanga team up for a good time.’
Although I liked the atmosphere, it doesn’t really match this description. Perhaps on a Saturday ...? To add to this, the cocktails you’d expect to complement such a ‘good time’ also didn’t impress me. Chimichanga offers the basics: Piña Colada, Daquiri, Tequila Sunrise, Long Island Iced Tea – all at around £6.99. Nothing to stick around for. The only one to grab my attention was the Chimi Fizz, a sharer cocktail I would have bought if it weren’t priced at £12.99. Annoying if you want to try it but nobody else does.
I soon forgot about that though when my food arrived. The mushroom, jalapeno and jack cheese quesadillas were, literally, melting in my mouth. The starter was tasty and perfectly-sized – the only thing to note is that the nachos seemed a little stale.
My enchilada (two rolled flour tortillas), was generously-sized,and the sauteed peppers and onions were sizzling. The sweet potato fries were nice and crispy and this is one of the only places I’ve had them where I can say they aren’t too soft.
The atmosphere wasn’t fiery as promised, but the food was. Pretty good going for just another chain restaurant.
Tel: (023) 9238 4198 Food 4
(ratings out of 5)