/ The Edinburgh Guide
Edinburgh — By Andy Hayes on April 7, 2010 at 8:56 pm
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Edinburgh’s Best Mexican Cuisine: Garibaldi’s

Edinburgh has a few Mexican restaurants, and I don’t like most of them.  Mexican is one of my favourite cuisines, so I’m rather particular, and few places make the cut.  My preferred haunt, though, is an unlikely choice:  the cheesy and somewhat offputting underground joint, Garibaldi’s.

The Venue

Right, you should read this before going, because otherwise you might not make it to the meal!  First of all, this place is easy to miss.  It’s on Hanover just north of George, and it’s downstairs, so look for the big orange sign as shown above – if you see the Thai restaurant, you just missed it.

Once you head downstairs, you’ll walk into what appears to be a strip club.  Yes, there’s a dark dance floor with a pole.  I’m not kidding.  But don’t let this put you off – just make a right and you’ll see the restaurant area.  The venue, like most restaurants in the area, turns into part nightclub later in the evening.

It gets worse.  The tables are covered with thick plastic, and it’s not all that well lit.  It is rarely crowded.  It all sounds like a horror story worthy of salvation from Gordon Ramsey or Jamie Oliver, right?  Well, not quite.

The Food

If you’ve made it this far, you’re in luck: the kitchen knows what they’re doing.  I’ve eaten here several times with friends and colleagues, and we’ve always found the food fresh and good. It’s not really TexMex nor traditional Mexican, but a comfortable spot somewhere in between.  No, they’re not looking to win any awards, but it’s better than some of the overprocessed stuff found elsewhere.  You’ll find the standards, such as nachos, tacos and enchiladas – the only unique option is the fish-based dishes, which are quite tasty.  There’s also the chicken in a sweet chili sauce which is is nice and hot (as in spicy).

Prices are very reasonable; a drink and entrée will run you between £10-15.

The Drink

Speaking of those margaritas, order with care: these guys know what they’re doing, and regardless of whether you want them frozen or on the rocks, salt or no salt, you’ll come out of here with a buzz.  Or, if you want, keep them coming and stay for the wild clubbing scene.  One seriously dangerous choice is a pitcher of the pineapple-infused “Aztec Revenge” which is only £10 during happy hour, 9-11pm Mon-Fri.

If you don’t want want tequila, you can opt out for wine, beer, or other bar drinks and soft drinks.

A Note on Atmosphere

You should know this venue turns into a rough-and-tumble nightclub later at night, totally different from the quiet and quaint atmosphere that you’ll find during dinner hours.  There is also a cover charge later in the evening, so I’d suggest going earlier on.  And for what it’s worth, this probably isn’t the ideal place to end your night.  I’ll just leave it at that and you can decide for yourself when you get there :)

The Essentials

It’s cheap and cheerful, but if you want good Mexican and strong drinks in a no-fuss atmosphere, head no further than Garibalid’s.

Address:  97a Hanover Street (just north of George Street) – easily missed as stairway down hidden next to a large Thai restaurant

Phone:  0131 220 3007

Website:  www.garibaldisedinburgh.com (though as of this writing the site appears to be down)

Restaurant Hours: Mon-Sun 6-11pm (bar open until 3am).

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