Nestled amongst the cafes, shops and theatres around Gloucester Green is Mexican chain restaurant, El Mexicana. Think of it in the mould of Subway/Five Guys but replace the sandwiches/burgers for tacos and burritos and you get the idea. It feels like the perfect place to take a self-confessed snob of Mexican eateries out for lunch. Will it fare better for her then fellow Mexican street food restaurants?
The atmosphere is warm and the restaurant has far more character than the comparable Subway. The staff are all welcoming to us, and are happy to explain the set up to us newbies. My partner-in-crime goes for 'La Beast', a double sized burrito packed with chargrilled chicken and I opt for tacos, with chargrilled chicken, chicken tinga, and carnitas (pulled pork). We order nachos and potato wedges to share, hoping to get the full Mexican street food experience, and take our seats.
The food is prompt and well cooked. My tacos are all tasty, if somewhat messy, and are wolfed down. In particular I recommend the chicken tinga filling, with the combination of tomato and chipotle sauce proving the perfect mix for the tacos. The nachos (topped with the salsa pico; tomatoes, onions, coriander and lime) are fine, if somewhat soggy by the end of our meal, while the wedges are the right level of spice. They are a pairing perfect for sharing. 'La Beast' is one hefty burrito, loaded with tasty filling as well as Mexican rice, peppers and onions and grated cheese. It's a bit much for my taste but my fellow critic gives it a thumbs up.
Our meal is topped off by churros, which are simply fabulous. They come out piping hot and with plenty of chocolate sauce to share. Any excuse for churros is a worthy one and they cap off a very good lunch. The only weakness comes in the form of the Margarita slushie, which is awfully bland.
With discounts for students and an evening dedicated to students (with a complimentary shot of tequila or beer with your meal) El Mexicana is certainly geared towards one of the main populations of Oxford. Even without discounts the food is all exceptionally affordable and one can easily purchase a main, side and drink for under £10. Perfect for lunch or a quick dinner date.
In addition to this the restaurant has great accessibility, with entrances from Gloucester Green Square and the bus station. It even has enough space for my frankly awful pram driving. The main downside is that there is a lack of toilets and so no baby change facilities readily available.
Overall our first experience of El Mexicana is a positive one, thanks in particular to the friendly staff. The Mexican eatery snob is sated and even goes as far as to say that the restaurant would be worth a visit for the churros alone. The lack of toilet facilities is a disappointment and one to factor into any visits but El Mexicana will fill any of your Mexican street food needs.