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The Cartel Pollo: El Capo’s Cellar Cantina Reviewed

The Tariff Street tequila haven's restaurant...

There’s something interesting going on in the basement (cellar) of El Capo, the Tariff Street tequila haven.

“…comes with a recommendation
to get life insurance.”

The Northern Quarter bar recently launched its basement canteen, where Mexican tapas is the order of the day. Or night, depending.

There are bigger plates too, and plenty to appeal to those who like a bit of a kick to the cohones every now and again.

1Elcapo Restaurant1

Los Pollos (Hermanos?) El Capo: the Caliente Mierda hot wings (3 for £2.75 or 7 for £5.50) come with a recommendation to get life insurance. Those who like to live less dangerously will find plenty here too, however. OR dare to take the El Capo Wing Challenge? Ask a your server for details. Ay caramba!!

The chicken with green onion tacos (3 for £6 or 5 for £8.50) are an authentic slice of Mexican street life; the smoky edge of the ‘Slow and Low Slow’ (£4.50) – slow fried chorizo with habanero chilli – is a fine companion to the bottle of Malbec we were drinking.

1Elcapo Pork Tacos

The Cartel Pollo (check the reference, Breaking Bad fans) is a winner too (£5) – baked chicken with plenty of garlic, coriander and coconut.

But the more adventurous among you might fancy Mi Corazon (£4.75) – pan-seared cows heart with Aji pepper oil. It’s got a deep, rich flavour – but it’s a sharer, not a one-man dish. Unless you really, really like cows heart.

Non-meat lovers have options too, including the Sonora salad (£4.75) – roasted plantain with quinoa, avocado and sweet peppers – and a Mexican menu without refried beans would be a travesty.

El Capo has quickly established itself as a go-to bar in the Northern Quarter, adding something ballsy to the Tariff Street line up. Best stretch of bars and coffee houses in Manchester? It must be.

Elcaponq Outside

Elcaponq Interior

Throwing food in to the mix is likely to turn the volume up a notch, but El Capo is still a belter of a drinking den where you’re unlikely to be told that you’ve probably had enough and you should go home and sleep it off, otherwise you’ll have a bad head at work tomorrow.

If they keep on serving up dishes that can deliver on flavour as well as being interesting to boot, there’s a very good chance this underground venture will end up being part of Manchester’s mainstream dining choices.

Drink, eat, do one or do both – you’re more than likely to leave El Capo in a better mood than you entered. Especially if you manage all the tequilas available and a full portion of cow heart.

Build up your tollerance for spice – and become ‘the one who knocks.’

Now THAT is a night out.

Contact & Book

12 Tariff Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M1 2FF

0161 237 3154


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