Review – Carlito Burrito
Carlito Burrito is a Mexican street food and burrito bar on York Place. Easily thrown into the ‘London Road regeneration’ category, this vibrant and often hectic establishment serves up authentic Mexican tapas, burritos, cocktails and Mezcal alongside a hefty dose of happy vibes and a loud, bustling atmosphere.
Run by Carlito Riestra who is originally from Guadalajara, about a 6 hour drive North West from the capital of Mexico City, Carlito Burrito is the product of years of hard work. A joint operation between Carlito and his long-term business partner Andy Barlow, the concept of providing authentic Mexican street food came about from their organic catering company Grass Roots.
After years of trading via Grass Roots on the festival circuit, as well as providing bespoke catering for private clients, the duo decided to bring the full Mexican street food experience alive and thus, Carlito Burrito as we know it was born.
Opening its doors in January of this year, Carlito Burrito has two clear main goals: to serve traditional and authentic Mexican food and to bring a little bit of Mexican culture to Brighton, both of which it succeeds in doing so.
The drinks alone are worth a visit and Mezcal on the menu is a huge plus point for Carlito Burrito. Served straight up with burnt cinnamon orange, the spirit – similar to tequila but with more of an earthy, smokey flavour – is a fantastic way to start the full Carlito Burrito experience. Also available is a full range of cocktails, including a sublime classic margarita served in a chilli & salt rimmed glass and Mexican-inspired drinks from their well-stocked bar such as spiced rum hibiscus cooler. There’s a selection of Mexican beers, and the house red is also worth a look.
With a menu that, according to my Mexican cohort Danny, is “basically what you find on every street corner in Mexico City”, Carlito Burrito ticks all the boxes with a blend of huge burritos and tempting tapas.
Having already downed the aforementioned outstanding margarita and a Corona, ordering the Fish Tacos – two soft corn tortillas, negra modelo catch of the day fish fillet with chile guajillo, pico de gallo, chipotle sour cream and crispy lettuce to start off our meal seemed like a great introduction to Carlito’s cooking.
The fish tacos came as a pair and were served on a long, dark oak wooden board and drizzled with fresh lime. Lightly beer battered, the white fish was piping hot and fresh. Topped with crunchy, grated white lettuce and a hearty smattering of smokey chipotle sour cream, everything was rounded off with guajillo chili to provide a small kick of heat. A cool, refreshing flavour came from the fresh pico de gallo and sultry chipolte.
The soft corn taco did saturate with the concoction of juices and sauces, however, was light and enjoyable against the bold flavours of fish, chilli and chipotle.
This was a messy dish but incredibly more-ish. The presentation wasn’t brilliant but sometimes it’s all about the taste and that is where the fish tacos were a huge success before the main event: a Carlito Burrito.
With a burrito menu that caters for carnivores, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans, all burritos are a 12″ flour tortilla with Mexican red rice, beans, melted cheese a choice of meat or veg, fresh pico de gallo, lettuce and chipotle sour cream. Additional fillings such as guacamole, chorizo or halloumi are available for a mere £1 extra.
Pork Pibil ‘Cochinita‘ – slow cooked pork shoulder in achiote, lime, garlic and orange juice (£7.50) with extra guacamole felt extravagant after the fish tacos and beers, but what the hell? The buzzing atmosphere and wild service allows you to get carried away in the Mexican spirit.
The burrito came served in a basket and wrapped tightly in foil, bulging with fillings and toppings galore. Oozing gorgeous orange spiced pork flesh, the pork pibil was very tender and melt in the mouth. The rice retained a slight bite and the tortilla wrap held together the packed contents well.With crunchy lettuce and chunky guacamole, this burrito was exploding with flavour, taste and texture.
Of course the pork isn’t cooked fresh to order for each burrito and is kept warm in a metallic tray ready for service, just how a burrito bar should be. Requesting additional guacamole on top of the already added extra wasn’t a problem and Carlito happily provided our table with a dipping pot to share. Large, juicy, messy and filling, the burrito is certainly an experience not to be missed. They also offer a lunchtime take-away option – ideal for a trip to the beach with a bottle of cold Mexican beer.
Carlito Burrito has caused some debate recently with service and food quality complaints, plus other quibbles and qualms being strewn across social media. For what it’s worth, the Places I Eat Brighton verdict is that Carlito Burrito is an excellent burrito bar.
This being the fifth visit to Carlito’s only solidified the fact that with a fun atmosphere, killer cocktails, bustling environment and queues out the door each night plus authentic Mexican street food to share, Carlito Burrito is one the best places in the city to spend an evening with a group of close friends, Mezcal shot at the ready.
Carlito Burrito, 12 York Place, Brighton, BN1 4GU
Words and photographs by Claire Beveridge