Bargain Indian street food in Sunderland - what we thought of Chilli Mangoes

Don’t let the inconspicuous location of Chilli Mangoes fool you – inside it’s an explosion of colour and flavours.

Tucked down the relatively quiet Tavistock Place, it’s one in a number of restaurants that’s bringing something a bit different to the city centre.

The site has been a restaurant in various guises over the years, from Tavistock Hospitality’s first venture in the city, after which they named their brand, to Amore and Funky Indian.

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Chilli Mangoes, however, have really stamped their own identity on the subterranean space to create one of the city’s most vibrant restaurants with bright wall murals that are drenched in colour, plush booths, neon signage and a feature tuk tuk photo booth. They’ve also made great use of under-utilised outdoor space to create a shisha garden for the warmer months.

Chilli Mangoes in Sunderland city centre

We visited early doors on a wet Wednesday night and even though it was empty when we went in, its rich aesthetic really creates a warm atmosphere – I haven’t been on a weekend night, but can imagine it has a real buzz when it’s full. This is as far removed from the flocked wallpaper of traditional Indian restaurants as you can get.

The menu’s an equally colourful affair: a really broad selection of South Indian street food, tandoori dishes, dosas and South Indian bread, Indian pizzas, Bombay paos (Indian burgers), traditional dishes, chef specialities, biryanis and a small kids menu if you have little legs in tow.

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The set meal of four choices, which is available 5pm-7pm every night, is particularly good value at £13.99 as is Thali night on Thursdays when you can enjoy a pick and mix of seven dishes for £14.99.

We dove in with one of the Monday to Thursday offers – three street food starters for £15.99 as well as picky bits of popadoms (99p each) and a pickle tray (£2.99).

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The vibrant interiors features a tuk tuk photo booth

There was plenty for the two of us. The paneer 65 was my favourite of the three: really succulent cubes of marinated cheese with a moreish sweet mango and chilli spice sauce.

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Next up, the panni puri phuskaa, a classic roadside snack in India and one of the many vegetarian options on the menu, was an interesting dish and not something I’d tried before. The hollow balls, a bit like a giant and tastier Rice Krispie, were ideal for breaking into and scooping up the accompanying sauces which included a satisfyingly sticky tamarind with chickpeas.

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Our third choice of prawn chemmeen fry could have done with a bit more of a kick, but we devoured them nonetheless.

Three Indian street food starters for £15.99
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Our main choice of roadside tuk tuk chicken curry (£17.99) to share was more of a triumph. With pilau rice included, it was again great value with plenty to go around.

Not too greasy or oily, as can sometimes be the case with Indian food, it had great depth of flavour with hints of chilli, ginger and garlic that didn’t drown the more subtle tender chicken, a real comfort food.

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Make sure to order one of the perfectly fluffy nan breads to mop up every last drop.

Roadside tuk tuk curry mains
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Panni puri phuskaa - a classic street food snack
The striking interiors help to create a warm atmosphere
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The shisha garden is open in the warmer months