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Round about the turn of the century, I used to live around the corner from where the great Mexican takeaway Los Cardos is now located. At the time, takeaway food options on Leith Walk were very limited – my abiding memory is getting home late and seeing a very drunk guy hammering on the window of the Best Kebab Shop just after it had closed for the night, imploring them to open and feed him. “Big money my man! BIIIIIG money!” The staff remained unmoved and the door remained locked.
Now there are places on Leith Walk I’ll travel across town specially to visit, Los Cardos chief among them. I’m not the only one – Irvine Welsh makes a point of heading for Los Cardos whenever he is back in Edinburgh. Having lived in the US for some years now, Welsh says Los Cardos is as good as any of the Mexican joints in his adopted home. He’s a big fan of Los Cardos’ signature dish, the haggis burrito, which is proving to be hugely popular.
The food is simple, fast and cheap – inspired by the Mexican street food from San Francisco’s Mission District – but it’s also delicious. There are a handful of seats in their Leith Walk store if you want to eat in, but the bulk of their business is takeaways and deliveries. Either way, you’d be hard pressed to get a better meal for the price. Essentially, you decide whether you want burritos (with either black beans or pinto beans), fajitas, quesadillas or soft tacos, and then you choose your filling.
There’s citrus marinated chicken or Aberdeen Angus steak, carnitas (pork slow roasted in salsa verde marinade), haggis, vegetarian haggis or plain vegetarian option (meatless with homemade guacamole, with or without grilled peppers and onions). There’s a choice of six types of sauce from mild to high heat, and you add extras to taste. It’s all made fresh to order and ready in just minutes – you can literally nip in for a quick bite while you’re waiting for the bus. They don’t stint on the fillings either. Highly recommended.
Los Cardos, 224 Leith Walk, Leith. Phone: 0131 555 4411
Words: Simon McKenzie