Why tequila isn’t the only option with Mexican food (and life in general)

Having recently spent a couple of weeks in the US, I’ve realised just how big a thing Mexican food is out there, you can’t move for taco trucks, breakfast burritos, house salsas and chilli verde. It’s (mostly) great, fast, healthy food with zingy, fresh flavours and no pretences. A far cry from the gringo-styled Mexican chains we’ve been used to over here. Happily, there’s a new kind of taco rolling into Edinburgh which means it’s about time we ditched the Old El Paso and tantalised our taste buds with something a bit more authentico. El Cartel on Thistle St and Bodega on Elm Row embrace this new world of Mexican food, without a sombrero in sight. Our friend MyMonkfish recently reviewed El Cartel for Olive Magazine, and this is what she had to say.

Mexican food salmon ceviche

Margaritas, mezcal, cervezas and Bloody Marias (the smoky tequila based alternatives to a Bloody Mary) are the obvious accompaniments to a Mexican feast, particularly with the fancy tequila revolution that’s going on. But that doesn’t mean you can’t wash your fish tacos down with a drop of vino, especially when there are a wealth of Mexican restaurants allowing you to BYOB.

mexican food kung fu girl riesling

You can get some pretty good Mexican wines these days, but I’m yet to find a readily available one that stands up on price, flavour and all-round deliciousness, and I don’t like recommending things just because they fit the theme. Instead, take this Riesling along to the fiesta (if you’re at El Cartel you can buy it from the Bon Vivant’s Companion over the road – handy!).

Kung Fu Girl Riesling is the cooling mango salsa to a blackened fish taco and the squeeze of lime to your salmon ceviche. A soft, refreshing riesling, hailing from the United States, somewhere between the in-your-face New Zealand wines and sweeter German styles. Like a mango salsa it has tropical fruit sweetness and a good dose of acidity, which means it can cut through any sauces and oils and at the same time stand up to chilli and spices without setting off any firecrackers in your mouth. If you think Riesling is a thing of the past, think again, just look at the label.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling – usually £12.95  from independent wine shops across the UK and online (prices may differ).

NOTE : A version of this article first appeared in Bite magazine in May 2015.

El Cartel photos courtesy of Hilary Sturzaker aka MyMonkfish.com as part of a review for Olive Magazine.

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