Two of my best and oldest friends moved to Glasgow at the same time that I did 11 and a half years ago- it seems like a lifetime ago now. We made sure that we took advantage of ‘the big city’ and all that it offered us. I have many good memories of Glasgow with them, not least living in a cupboard in their Partick flat for a few months! They moved back to Inverness 15 months ago and I miss them immensely, not as much as Celino’s I imagine (regulars is an understatement). They have been back to visit and the last time they were back we arranged to meet up for lunch. There are so many new places here and I was excited to tell them about all of them. Even although the conversation was over text messages I could tell that they were holding something back & it turns out that out of everywhere down here they were really missing Pinto on Queen Street. I had never been to Pinto before – I guess it falls into that no mans land for me where the canteen style of it doesn’t appeal for a girly lunch but when I want that more relaxed style of place we tend to go somewhere in the car so avoid the city centre. I had always wondered about it so this was the perfect opportunity to try it out.
Takeaways in Glasgow have been given a re-vamp in recent years with openings of places such as Buddy’s, Gandolfi Fish To Go, Taco Mazama and Delizique. Unless I have been drinking far too much alcohol, I do not want a stodgy mess put in front of me. Just because it is takeaway food does not mean that it should taste bad. So I was hoping for more quality, less slop from Pinto. I did some research before the day by going on to their website & learned that their whole concept was based around healthy Mexican street food. ‘No freezers, no microwaves’ is proudly plastered on the menu so I was looking forward to some tasty, homemade food. I would be interested to know if they make everything on the premises because this is more important to me than if a business uses a microwave. I am not a fan of the idea of things being bought in ready made so I hope that the no freezers, no microwave idea also means that everything is homemade because fresh can still be bought from external chain companies.
I met my friends at the door, big hugs galore and then they began to educate me on the Pinto experience. We chose a table next to the window and discussed the food choices. Two of us then queued to order because I wanted to look at the menu because there were none on the tables. It was really busy because it was just after 12pm so trying to read the menu without getting in other people’s way was a bit of a feat and I’m glad I had someone with me that knew what they were doing. I ended up choosing a burrito as the other two were raving about them.
Once we reached the counter we grabbed a tray and told the first person our order. This is one of those build your own type things so you choose your basic item – burrito, soft taco, hard taco, salad, nachos or bare burrito (no wrap). Inside you can have chargrilled chicken, chargrilled steak, barbacoa beef, slow cooked pork or flash fry veg. Then you decide on your toppings from cheese, jalapeno, rice, pinto or black beans, salsa (there are 4 types of salsa) and sour cream. After a lot of questions (the poor staff weren’t expecting a clueless me) I had a slow cooked pork burrito with pico de gallo, cheese, rice, pinto beans and sour cream. In for a penny, in for a pound!
My friends had almost the same but with spicier salsa/jalapenos so I was really going with their recommendations. I chose a Desperados to wash it down with as it seemed fitting then we paid up and took our tray back to our table. It was the first takeaway-but-with-seats type of place that I’ve been to that sells beer and I enjoyed that option.
My burrito was jam packed with fillings and it took me a minute to figure out how to eat it without making too much of a mess. It was spicier than I expected so if you only like very mild things then I wouldn’t recommend it. I can cope with medium spice and I’d say that’s the level of spice that the burrito reached but I definitely needed the sour cream to calm it down.
Mexican food never looks very pretty and this was no exception but it was tasty and filling. The main ingredient of pork dominated the taste but I could also taste the coriander in the rice and the beans. I don’t have much to compare it to in burrito terms but I enjoyed it. It offered optimal value for money at less than £6 and it was so big that I couldn’t finish it.
The company have also opened another Pinto on Gordon Street but it is smaller than the first one with only a couple of window seats. I am no good eating Mexican food on the move because I find it too messy so I would not use that one but they seem to get their fair share of office workers and students.
I would go back to Pinto if I was looking for a very casual and quick feed. After the school dinners delivery, you find yourself with some tasty food indeed. Post vino food has just received an upgrade.