There’s not a piece of tofu in sight, nor do soy options dominate the launch of Mexican chain Chiquito’s new vegan menu, which is being rolled out nationally this week.
The brand, which is owned by The Restaurant Group, has designed the menu to reflect consumer trends by bringing in exciting proteins for a new take on their classic fajitas, tacos, burritos and burgers, it said.
It consists of four vegan starters, five main courses with side dishes, three vegan desserts and even a vegan drinks list, including beer, cocktails and wine.
“We are very fortunate that Mexican food lends itself very well to vegan and our new additions bring amazing tastes and textures, that will appeal not only to vegans but to all our guests,” said Chiquito managing director Angelo Gabrilatsou. “We are incredibly excited about this menu and firmly believe it puts us at the forefront of vegan dining in the UK.”
Branching out into new ingredient territory – and one that hasn’t really been seen in the UK before – is the Mexican chain’s move to put palm heart on the menu as one of its mains. The palm tree vegetable comes dished up in a baja bowl (£13.99) with pulses, black beans, greens and rice topped with jalapeno slaw, along with a pull-apart spinach tortilla bowl.
Another unusual addition is the banana blossom in both the starters and mains. In the UK, Hackney-based fish and chip shop Sutton & Sons started this trend when they caused a stir and opened a vegan experience that featured banana blossom to mimic fish.
At Chiquito, guests can dip into banana blossom croquettes (£7.19) served with Oatly creamy oat fraiche and a side salad to start, while there is also a Banana Blossom Burger (£14.49) patty topped with jalapeno slaw, greens and Violife vegan cream cheese alternative in a sourdough bun, which comes served with a side of cassava fries.
Food Spark flagged the rising interest in cassava last year as a staple of Latin American and African cuisines, including using it as a flour. Chiquito has bet on the root vegetable with its starters offering of cassava fries (£6.49), which sees it cut into thick chips and loaded with jackfruit chilli, Pico de Gallo salsa, and Violife vegan cheddar style cheese.
Swedish meat alternative brand Oumph signalled its intention to target foodservice last year and its arrived on the Chiquito menu. It appears in a dish called Vegaritoo (£11.69), which is filled with salty smokey Oumph, black beans, jalapeno slaw, rice and greens wrapped in a spinach tortilla, served with a side salad, tortilla chips and a side of Oatly creamy oat fraiche.
Its fajitas also get the Oumph treatment, with all of the favourite flavours from Chiquito’s classic fajitas (£12.99) filled with smokey salty Oumph and served with Violife vegan cheddar-style cheese and Oatly creamy oat fraiche.
It also wouldn’t be a vegan menu these days without jackfruit, with the chain launching jackfruit chilli filled tacos topped with Violife vegan cheddar-style cheese, guacamole and pico de gallo salsa (£5.99).
Staples with a twist
Other starters include vegan nachos (£6.49) loaded with guacamole, pico de gallo salsa, Violife vegan cheddar-style cheese and Oatly creamy oat fraiche, and sweet potato skins (£5.89) topped with five bean chilli, Violife Cheddar-style cheese, pico de galla salsa, guacamole and Oatly creamy oat fraiche.
Desserts include passion fruit sorbet and coconut ice cream (£2.19 one scoop or a trio for £4.49), churros with a vegan chocolate sauce (£4.99) and a chocolate coconut lava cake served with either the ice cream or sorbet (£5.99).
“We are particularly proud of our new vegan menu,” added Gabrilatsou. “It stays true to our core objectives by driving innovation, accessibility and fun. Having guest choice at the heart and understanding growing trends, this menu allows Chiquito to be more accessible to guests that seek vegan options.”