Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- Tex Mex II, Edinburgh
Where Is It?
The face and taste of your typical High Street diners, bistros and trattorias seem to be changing. International "cheap and cheerful" cuisine is now treated with respect by such people as official restaurant inspectors. For the first time in the UK, an Italian pizza house has just been awarded an AA rosette for excellence: La Favorita in Edinburgh.
So what other popular round the world cuisine offers superb food at good value prices around Scotland's capital city? The well established, best loved Mexican Cantina, Tex Mex II is warmly recommended for both authentic food and ambience. Why Tex Mex II you may ask? When Chef/ Patron Fat Donny founded TEX MEX on Hanover Street, Edinburgh in July 1984, it was the first Mexican Restaurant in Scotland! 2007 brought a change of address, just round the corner to Thistle Street, where it was renamed Tex Mex II - in the same manner as the QE2 and Queen Mary cruise liners. Thistle Street is parallel to George Street (pictured here)
Look out for the green watermelon Tex Mex sign amidst the designer fashion boutiques along this quaint cobbled street in the centre of Edinburgh's New Town. Inside, the L shaped space is neatly designed with intimate booths and banquette seating and adaptable table sizes, all around the walls. Around the shocking pink and lime green walls, there are murals and paintings of chillies and pineapples capture the Mexican heat of spice and sunshine.
The extensive, enticing menu needs time and thought so order a glass or pitcher of their famous frozen Margarita (using a 60-year-old recipe of limejuice, tequila and triple sec) and nibble the complimentary popcorn. To start, my partner and I share two appetisers, Ceviche Pacifico, a tasty, tantalising seafood salad of scallops, shrimps and sweet juicy mango marinated in lime and garlic, and a bowl of creamy Guacamole served with a mountain of tortilla chips.
As well as Texan steaks and burgers, tacos and chimichangos, some main course dishes stray away from the usual suspects and into Chef's favourite Mexican cuisine: one speciality is Grilled Tuna Combo combining two crispy flautas filled with a ton of soft crabmeat, and a tender tuna steak. Another classic is Carnitas con Guacamole, slow cooked pork in a tortilla wrap, while a whole section is entitled Fat Donny's Fajita Shack such as Flaming Fajita, strips of marinated chicken or steak, onions and peppers set on fire with a splash of Tequila, served with tortilla, cheese and sour cream.
The focus throughout the meal is on fresh seasonal ingredients. My chunky Burrito is stuffed with butternut squash, tomatoes, red, green, yellow peppers, served with rice and salad - a healthy veggie feast. Food is mildly spiced but there's choice of hot chilli sauces racking up the intensity towards the, rather scary, 'Ring of Fire.' If this tickles your taste buds, you can also buy a jar to take home.
After all this, you may not have much space for dessert, but who can resist traditional Key Lime or Pecan pie and finally a Tequila shot to complete the culinary Latin America journey. With a regular floorshow by the waiters as sizzling fajita platters are waved precariously around the restaurant, (as illustrated on the Tex Mex YouTube video!), this is a happy wee place for couples or party groups. Edinburgh is a lively University City, and students love this quirky place for tasty tortillas, serious cocktails and ice cold beers. Be warned, portion sizes are generously huge and beside us, two Americans admitted they were stuffed!
Contact Tex Mex II Web Site for current menu and prices.
Tex Mex II is at 64 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1EN. Telephone number for reservations is 0131 260 9699. There is more on Tex Mex II on their Web Site.
Service by a small young team, even on busy nights, is efficient and quick, fun and friendly along with the hard working, ever smiling, enthusiastic Chef. If great Italian Pizzas can do it, maybe Fat Donny's Flaming Fajitas can win an AA rosette for fine dining Mexican-style one day! Check out the website for special offers and a monthly tombola prize.
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