Taco look at this - a new Mexican restaurant serving 70 types of tequila is set to open in Sunderland.
Building work has just begun on transforming the former Chapmans jewellers in High Street West into Mexico 70 which is set to turn up the heat with a selection of Mexican street food and traditional drinks from the country.
The new venture is the brainchild of musician Neil Bassett from Hyde & Beast, and Ben Wall and the team from the neighbouring No2 Church Lane burger restaurant and bar.
The business partners are hoping the new restaurant will prove to be a culinary highlight in the city centre’s burgeoning cultural quarter, which is centred around the transformation of the Old Fire Station into a multi-million pound cultural hub. Mexico 70 looks set to open before Christmas, with the Fire Station opening as a restaurant, dance and drama studios and heritage centre on November 23.
Neil said his love of Mexican food was sparked through travelling the world as a musician.
“I first had the idea about ten years ago,” he explained. “I was on tour in Europe with Field Music and you spend a lot of time in the van. I’ve always liked Mexican food and I started talking about the kind of restaurant I’d like to run, and the idea never left me.
“A few years ago I looked at another property and came close to buying it, then I heard about the Cultural Quarter and the changes that are being made here and I decided, if I was going to do it, it would have to be in this area.
“When Ben mentioned that the Chapmans site was going to become available it seemed perfect and we went to view it straight away.”
Neil has already started his research for the menu at the new restaurant and has visited a number of Mexican restaurants across Europe for a taste test.
He said: “It will be casual dining with no table service, like in No2 Church Lane. It will be world Mexican street food, like tacos and burritos, traditional dishes which have been adapted by other countries over the years. So one week you might have an American-style taco and another, an Indonesian beef taco. But, in the main, it will be the kind of Mexican food you will get in the Baja peninsula region of Mexico.
“We’ll have the hearty gut-buster dishes, but we’ll also have a good range of healthy, vegan and vegetarian options.”
Ben and Neil have already started growing some ingredients in preparation, such as chilli, coriander and tomatillos (a type of Mexican tomato).
As well as Mexican-inspired cocktails, the drinks menu will features 70 types of tequilla, which has to be made from the blue agave plant, and mezcal, a type of tequila which can be made from a variety of agave plants.
Neil said: “I think most people are used to drinking tequila like a slammer, but the pure tequila is actually a very versatile spirit. When it’s 100 percent agave plant it’s like a single malt whisky. I think people will be surprised by the types of tequila we’ll be serving.”