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Manx-Mex Chronicles: Chapter Fourteen: Crazy Cal-Mex

Tortilla chips and salsa, chili con carne, and fajitas are now typical European bar food. Rare is the English pub that doesn’t serve “nachos.” The influence of Tex-Mex on world cuisine fascinates us here at Texas Eats. So when our correspondent, Julia Walsh, moved to Manchester, England in January 2017, we asked her to chronicle Tex-Mex influences on the local English fare. Here is her latest report:

Tucked in the corner of a building in the winding streets of the Northern Quarter, Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn (or LLLB for short) shares the street with a just a few other eateries and a couple of well curated little shops. We opted to sit at a long, thin table topped with Mexican-inspired tiles in the back of the downstairs seating area, close to some windows facing the ornate doors to the former Manchester Wholesale Fish Market. On their website, Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn describes their restaurant concept like a rock’n’roll road trip. “We drove from Vegas to Mexico in a frenetic haze of food, booze, and all the naughtiness that the Golden State had to offer. Luck Lust Liquor & Burn brings bold exciting Californian style Mexican food to Manchester’s Northern Quarter.”

After my report last week, I wanted to specifically seek out Tex-Mex dishes and restaurants and give them a fair chance to represent their take on the regional cuisine of my home state. I have to admit that there are few restaurants here that have a dedicated Tex-Mex menu or theme, but many of them offer a mixture of Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex, and Mexican dishes or a menu with a mixed Latin influence. I narrowed my search to “best nachos in Manchester” and was presented with a list of options, but the highest rated among them seemed to be Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn. One review specifically mentioned an even covering of toppings on the nachos (the lack of which I’d been lamenting about my nacho experiences so far) so I decided I had to try them.

The menu is stylized to look like a taped together collage made of punk attitude and delicious, over the top items. We started out with a pint of San Miguel lager, two shots of mezcal, and a Lagerita (a margarita made with grapefruit juice and mixed with San Miguel – unusually good and refreshing!). I’ve been struggling to find any mezcal here in Manchester, especially a reposado or añejo, so that smooth, smoky shot was a real treat and a great start to our visit.

The regular menu offers three different types of nachos, but the bar menu gave six scrumptious sounding options. I decided to go with the simple Cheese Bean Goodness Supreme, which sounded the closest to a classic Tex-Mex nacho as they offered on this menu. (I haven’t seen any other restaurant offer refried beans on the nachos!) My boyfriend chose the Volcano Nachos, which included beef chili with chorizo.

I was a little worried when our trays of nachos hit the table. There seemed to be plenty of their colorful chipotle sour cream, taco sauce, and “guac” (more like an avocado sauce to me), but I didn’t immediately see any melted cheese or refried beans on my chips. However, I was relieved to find that they were just buried underneath the sauces and the pile of jalepeños in the middle of the plate. The refries were simple and somewhat bland,  but they were still a welcome change from what I’ve eaten so far with plenty of melty cheese to go with them. The sundried tomatoes were also a nice twist on the classic flavors. I had to split the toppings between fully loaded and barely covered chips, but I was pleased that even the chips in the very middle of the Mount Toppings stayed crunchy down to the last bite.

The Volcano Nachos looked almost exactly the same as my own plate, except that you could see some of the beans and corn kernels from the chili sticking out between the layers (blasphemy in Texas, but widely accepted and loved here in England). The chorizo gave the chili a more complex flavor than the normally sweet chili-con-carne here and complimented the chipotle sour cream and guac sauce beautifully. They definitely had more of a spicy kick than my own nachos, which only made the drinks go down faster.

Though I know they’re not classic Tex-Mex, I’m sure I’ll go back to Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn to try out some of their other dishes or have a go at Taco Tuesday (all street tacos for £1!).


As a note, I’ll be visiting Belgium later this week, so next week’s update will be postponed until June 19th. I look forward to seeing you then!

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