Burrito-a-go-go

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  • For years, London was a culinary graveyard. Sure, you could get decent Indian, Chinese, French, African, Korean... even Burmese but try and hunt down an appetising burrito and you would come to an unhappy end, forced to wear a fake sombrero, down shots of petrol tequila and eat cheap chicken wrapped in leathery flatbread, doused in plastic cheese and tasteless salsa.

    For anybody who had spent time in the States, where the burrito is a work of art, this was a travesty. It regularly had me in tears and I briefly considered opening a burrito restaurant of my own to fill the gap.

    One fan even set up a blog lamenting the lack of quality in the London burrito market. We had upmarket Mexican restaurants - but, like posh fish and chips, they all seemed to be massively missing the point in a typically London fashion.

    But now, things are changing and the quintessential Calitexican street food is over here in a big, big way.

    It began in Soho, with a restaurant called Beach Burrito Co (later rebranded to disappointing affect as Mexicali). And where one started, others soon followed. Last Thursday I spotted five - three in one tiny patch of Goodge St (the longstanding El Burrito restaurant and the excellent Freebird stall outside Oxfam are now joined by the curiously named - and thus far unsampled - Benito's Hat), another off Exmouth Market (where there's also a second Freebird stall) and Mucho Mas on Upper Street.

    So which is your favourite? And is the burrito here to stay, or it will it be this decade's answer to the jacket potato craze of the 1980s or the soup mania of the 1990s?

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