The location right at the heart of the Lothian Road melee means there’s no question this first Edinburgh branch of Glasgow chain Pinto will be seen as a hub of office workers nipping out for a quick lunch during the day and students grabbing a bite on the road to their night out in the evening. There’s little doubt it does maintain a youthful vibe thanks to its clientele, particularly at the weekend, but then its air of informality is set up precisely to foster that. It’s less a downmarket restaurant, more an upmarket fast food joint, following the growing craving for easy Mexican food which the late Illegal Jack’s next door served for a number of years.
Pinto – as with every branch - is counter service, with quesadillas, burritos and tacos served in that labour-saving way which has the customer choose their filling, beans and strength of sauce, then decide whether they want cheese, sour cream and jalapenos for a heartily-stuffed mix-and-match treat wrapped in a sheet of foil. If that all sounds quite flat-packed, the end result is well worth it, with the chicken, steak, pulled pork or slow-braised barbacoa beef all freshly cooked and good quality, and the hot sauce – if that’s your thing – being possessed of an agreeably venomous bite.
Customers can also choose seared vegetables as a filling, or a bare burrito (a lower-carb option which misses out the tortilla), as well as salads, nachos and the house chilli con carne. The place is also licensed, for those who like a beer with their Mexican food, while at time of writing a second Edinburgh branch on Shandwick Place has only just opened up.
119 Lothian Road
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-midnight, Sun noon-10pm|