Chiquit-oh-so-many-fajitas: A Sizzling National Fajita Day!
As many will know, things got a little spicy for Gourmet Society a while ago when Chiquito joined the roster, providing plenty of opportunities for members across the country to get a taste of Mexico. This is particularly tantalising when considering this Friday, thanks to a particular internationally celebrated day. Seldom do we see a ‘Nation Insert Noun Here Day’ be such a sizzling affair as this, as it’s time to grab a poncho and order a margarita for National Fajita Day.
Of course, you can celebrate the occasion at home, make your own fajitas and a copious amount of Mexican themed cocktails (like I am, especially the latter part) but even if your infamous spicy breaded prawns & chicken fajitas with barbecue sauce in lieu of salsa are totally incredible (which they are, thank you very much) nothing can beat the lively ambience of a vivid restaurant, especially when it’s revelling in an occasion that caters perfectly to its strong points.
The first and finest point that can be made to argue that a trip to Chiquito will trump even my fajitas (marginally, says my pride) is the utter confidence that this immense chain has in their fajitas. After all, they call them the ‘Ultimate Fajitas’, so they are the final fajitas. There’s being sure you’ve made a good recipe and then there’s a rock solid conviction that your dish is the epitome of its kind. Secondly there’s the startling variety of fillings you can choose, which means that any and all tastes can indulge themselves with whatever takes their fancy.
There’s also the fact that they all come with unlimited tortillas that, unlike my approach to fajitas, means you can spread out the experience and the flavour for as long as you want. None of this ‘cram three fajitas worth of fillings into one tortilla’ business that often leaves me in a food coma and with half a packet of tortillas that’ll surely dwell in my breadbin until the end of days. And last but certainly not least there’s the maddening variety of cocktails you can sample with your selection. This is where Chiquito has me completely and utterly outgunned, as even though I’m quite the (amateur) mixologist and my in-house bar is fairly well stocked I can’t make hundreds of different delicious concoctions. Someday maybe my abilities will rival that of Chiquito’s bartenders, but for now they have the upper hand, as well as some intriguing limited edition cocktails that I’ll pick up on later.
My overarching point is that if you’re going to partake in National Fajita Day I can’t think of many places, save for Mexico itself, that will garnish the occasion with more spice, more service and more sumptuous selections for an excellent dining experience. This all goes without even mentioning the myriad mouth-watering alternatives on the Chiquito menu (like their Jamalaya and the roasted sea bass? Come on, I could eat those dishes every day for a month and still be banging on their door before the restaurant opens the next morning) but the day is all about those fajitas, so let’s take a look at just a handful of the options available, as well as some of those enchanting cocktails.
Let’s start with a classic that showcases how even without meat overflowing from a wrap a dish can still be scrumptious. The seasoned roasted vegetable option partners perfectly with the already impressive array of sizzling veggies served with each choice. So along with a wealth of mixed peppers, onions and all manners of adornments (like the enticing pico de gallo salsa) there’s a medley of chunky seasonal veg to fill up that tortilla. With so many veggies the fresh taste will be a given, and when I have something completely meat free I like to make the most of the lack of it by going produce crazy. Ergo my pairing for this fajita is the enticing Pink Dahlia; a blend of mezcal, gin and elderflower liqueur with raspberry puree and garnished with kiwi. The ‘veggie’ and ‘fruity’ combination is refreshing and invigorating and, frankly, the cocktail is fairly potent so the fiesta should start kicking off after just one of these.
Next up is something that has already got my taste buds doing the samba; the new garlic prawn option. King prawns pan fried in garlic, served up sizzling and topped with grated cheese? That’s just beauty right there, especially if you lock them in a line on the tortilla, kind of like they’re curling to each other to form a chain, drizzle a little salsa along them and fill in the gaps with plenty of guacamole. And a hint of sour cream on the tip of each prawn? That’s something that’s hard to beat, especially for seafood fans like myself. But what drink goes best with it? Simple; the Americo’s Punch. This zesty bourbon and spiced rum combination is richly mixed with orange, lemon and pineapple juice, and if that doesn’t help the spirits ride your taste buds I don’t know what will. Besides, I don’t know why but I always love pairing anything seafood with drinks containing spiced rum; it just seems like a heavenly combination.
Though there is still the hearty option to consider. The granddaddy of all fajitas, the alpha, the king, the gargantuan behemoth of Mexican flavour; The Ultimate Fajita. A monstrous serving of pulled pork, grilled chicken breast and succulent steak, all presented like a meaty mountain, leaves little for a carnivorous diner with a ravenous hunger to complain about. How to tackle this titan? Make three different kinds of fajitas, mix and match a couple of them or, my personal favourite, stuff a tortilla with plenty of salsa and something from each pile of meat. Imagine the satisfaction that’ll come from that first bite; first feeling the juicy steak, then the tender chicken as the pulled pork and salsa mingles together. Even describing one bite has started to fill me up and those brave enough to challenge this dish will obviously need something strong to help their endeavours. And how would one even attempt to match this monstrous dish with an equally strong drink? Well Chiquito seemed to revel in this challenge, which is why there’s a drink called the Best Margarita in the World. Remember I was talking about Chiquito being confident before? Well this is the peak of that self-assuredness and when it contains 1800 Tequila you can taste for yourself where that conviction comes from.
These are just a few of the options that can fill this fajita themed day with delectable times, all of which Chiquito serves up in style. So why not find your nearest restaurant and spice up your Friday?
Have you been to a Chiquito restaurant yet? How did you find your experience? Let us know in the comments section below or via Facebook or Twitter! And of course, be sure to check out the rest of the gourmet goodness on the Gourmet Society blog!
By Tom Simpkins