By Isabelle Blakeney, Third Year English and History
Location: 25b Central Hall, Old Market Street, Bristol, BS2 0HB
Price range: ££
The Croft Magazine // Old Market’s Chido Wey restaurant is hard to miss if travelling into Easton. Its bold, poppy lettering and colourful interior instantly draws you to it, and it’s one of those places that makes you say: “we need to go there!” every time you pass. I tend to be slightly sceptical about places that seem to focus so much on ‘vibe’- it can be a sign that the wonders stop there, and any effort left for food is minimal. But alas, like my fellow Gen Z-ers, sometimes a couple of murals and some funky lights sway me.
The restaurant, opened by chef Conor O’Hare back in October 2020, just released a new menu, so we timed our visit to catch it while it’s still fresh. Vibe-wise, the restaurant didn’t disappoint. It has a real familial feel to it which I love- the music is quiet and the conversation is loud, and the bar is decorated with tiles and titbits, so you instantly feel comfortable.
If we were to judge on attendance alone, it would automatically receive 5 stars. The restaurant is small but squeezes in an impressive number of tables, all of them full, and some spilling out onto the street. If your dinner conversation involves some highly classified information, I’d suggest that Chido Wey may not be for you- I was slightly conscious of the intimacy between us and our fellow diners, so noise-wise, chatter and laughter levels did have to be reeled in at a couple of points.
Nonetheless, the impressive TARDIS-like feeling that the restaurant achieves undeniably adds to the cosiness of the dinner experience. The menu is limited, which I like, as I can easily get lost in a frenzy of wanting to try everything on it. The options consist of Botanas (appetisers) and mains that you can have in either burrito or taco form. The mains section has five choices, each accompanied by a side of tortilla chips. Luckily for me, my party each opted for a different main, so we managed to try the full breadth of Chido Wey’s cuisine.
I went for the Platanito Pibil Tacos, made from roast banana blossom with an apple and jalapeño sauce. The banana blossom was fragrant and punchy, with the texture mimicking that of pulled pork or jackfruit, and the jalapeño sauce sweet and jam-like. This being the first time that I’d tried roast banana blossom, I was pleasantly surprised- the tacos were packed with flavour, and had a mild, warming spice that beautifully complimented the dish without overwhelming the taste.
The Pepes Pig tacos, in my opinion, are the best option on the menu. The slow-cooked pork shoulder was deep and salty and was beautifully tender, so definitely worth breaking my latest attempt at vegetarianism for. The Señor Bean tacos were also delicious, with the smoky flavour epitomising what I imagine great Mexican food to be.
The Habby Feet (chicken thigh) and Seta Asada (mushroom) options weren’t, in my opinion, as special. The chicken could’ve been seasoned more generously, and the mushroom, though pleasant at the first bite, very quickly became overwhelming and a little sickly. Spice levels were also minimal across the board – although the jalapeño slices topping the nachos gave a subtle warmth, this may be something to bear in mind if you’re a heat-fanatic.
In terms of recommendations, the Platanito Pibil was tasty and an interesting flavour if you want to try something new. Generally though, for omni or carnivores the Pepes Pig tacos definitely shone through, and for vegetarians, the Señor Bean had to be the star of the show.
If skipping starters like we did, do not fear going hungry. Those of us with tacos just about managed to finish, but the burritos had to be taken home in doggy bags.
Now, for price. Not extortionate, but, for a student with a limited budget, certainly towards the higher end of my limit. Cocktails averaged £8.50 and starters went up to £9.90, meaning both of those were given a miss by my friends and I. Burritos and tacos also stand at around £10, with some reaching £12 – average for Bristol, yes, but when you’re eating street food off greaseproof paper and metal baskets, it feels a little much.
Price aside, as an excuse for a meal out with friends with an exciting take on classic Mexican street food, Chido Wey hits the spot. It’s a restaurant that prides itself on warmth and creativity, and its popularity speaks for itself, so if you’re looking for a place that you’re guaranteed to leave with a smile, this little ode to Mexico may be a winner.
Featured image: Isabelle Blakeney