Scribblings from the hard shoulder of the Information Superhighway

Liquor Store Blues

(Bruno Mars)

Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn is a new venture in Manchester’s Northern Quarter from Beau Myers and the team behind Almost Famous Burgers. It occupyies the site that was formerly the ‘Socio Rehab’ cocktail bar and the first floor above. The bar downstairs retains a cocktail bar ambience, permeated with the distinct minty scent of mojitos; but downstairs is very much the appetiser, the main course is the restaurant upstairs.
Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn - at tolfalas.com

The staircase up is less intimidating than that of ‘Almost Famous’, but once upstairs the style is very similar; bare brick walls, eclectic artwork, steel furniture, it’s all painfully hip. And dark at night, the lighting required me to fire up a torch (flashlight) app on my phone. The menu is unashamedly ‘dirty’ the sort of food you feel guilty for enjoying. Almost.

I started with the ‘Chicken Blasts’, five delicious, moist strips of breaded chicken in a spicy hot sauce; imagine ‘Buffalo Wings’ but with more meat and less fiddling. These are served with celery batons and the smoothest, mellowest Blue Cheese dip around.

The overall menu is comprehensive, tacos, burritos, chilli there’s even a chimighanga lurking there somewhere. This is probably the most stylish Tex-Mex, (actually it describes itself as ‘Calexico’ – California/Mexican rather than Texan/Mexican) you will encounter here in Blighty.

For my main I had the ‘Jailbreak Beef Chilli’ – a hearty bowlful of really mellow beef chilli, made with slow cooked brisket and chorizo, a subtle blend of meaty flavours that weren’t overpowered by the Chilli sauce. The bowl was topped off with melted cheese and pickled jalapenos, and a sizable pile of tortilla chips. There is a bottle of chilli sauce on the table for those that feel the need for heat, but frankly I wallowed in the mellowness of the dish.

I couldn’t resists a side order of delicious ‘mac & cheese’ – the first time I’ve had this as a side dish – lightly sprinkled with crispy bacon and crab-meat.

I couldn’t finish my main course, admitted defeat and resisted the tempting desserts. This made me feel decidedly lightweight when I saw two guys take on and beat the restaurant’s signature ”Tapout Burrito’.

Tap-Out Burrito - at tolfalas.com

The ‘Tapout Burrito’ is a thirty quid, fourteen inch monster stuffed with crispy beef, BBQ pulled Pork, shredded beer can chicken, served with skin on potato fries, cheese, spicy rice, grilled onions & salad ‘lubed with secret taco sauce’. This beast must total three to four thousand calories. The couple at the table next to me tucked into one between them (hence the photo), a better option than a ‘Man Vs Food challenge’,  in my opinion.

On other visits I’ve tried the Sloppy Juan Burger, and the ‘Dirty Chicken’Burrito; there are other nice touches on the menu the guacamole is mashed (or more accurately, ‘muddled’) at the table, while other starters served in lettuce leaves sound interesting (a hint of the oriental).

As you would expect for a restaurant on the site of an iconic cocktail bar, the cocktail list looks like fun, as does the selection of bottled beers, including Dos Equis and Goose Island IPA. The ‘Lagerita is interesting, Tequila, Lime, Triple Sec and lager!

Lagerita - at tolfalas.com

Without a doubt this was the best Tex-Mex/Cal-Mex I’ve enjoyed for many a long year.

As with Almost Famous Burgers next door, there will be queues.

Rating: ★★★★½