Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Restaurant review: Las Iguanas

Las Iguanas Mermaid Quay
Unit 27,
Ground Floor
Mermaid Quay
Cardiff, CF10 5BZ
Tel:029 2045 9165
Fax: 02920 373 256

Firstly, a much belated new year to all my readers! I hope Christmas and New Year treated you well and included much good food and drink. Secondly, the blog is not dead. It has just been hibernating over the festive period. As some of you know I'm getting married in the Autumn and wedding things have a habit of taking over. Do not fear that this will become some sort of wedding blog, however! It will continue to focus on foodie things, although posts may be more sporadic than they were last year.

I'm kicking off with a review of my favourite chain restaurant, Las Iguanas. I don't usually review chains if I can help it since they tend to do alright without reviewers like me but I've been a fan of Iguanas for over ten years and wanted to just see if I can tempt a few of you to try it out.

I visited the relatively new Mermaid Quay branch which is well decorated and was incredibly busy, even for a cold Thursday evening in January. Being regular diners, I was fairly certain of what I would go for but I perused the menu nevertheless. Las Iguanas offers a comprehensive range of burgers, fajitas, and other Latin American dishes such as my partner's favourite Xim Xim, a chicken crayfish and lime dish, Pasteles (a Chilean shepherd's pie that I'm keen to try) and a range of steaks and grills.

On this visit, I opted for the nachos with chilli beef (£5.70). These emerged in a huge metal dish and were easily enough to share. The tortillas were home-made (rather than the result of someone tearing open a bag of Doritos in the kitchen) and the salsa was spicy and hot. It made the so-called nachos often served up in pubs seem rather sad. The Mr. went for the Cha-Cha Chorizo (£4.90) which consisted of pork & garlic chorizo, braised slow & lazy with onions in red wine, tomato & smoked jalapeño sauce. Served with large hunks of bread, this was a hugely tasty dish, full of depth of flavour and with just the right amount of spice.

Truth be told, after this we could have given up and gone home full but there were main courses to enjoy. Regular blog readers or Twitter followers will know that I have a weakness for fajitas and I plumped for these at Las Iguanas, going for the classic chicken option (£13.60). Steak, prawn or mushroom options are also available. These came served with the usual accompaniments of guacamole, soured cream,and jalapeños with homemade salsa & soft wheat tortillas. As a fan, I've eaten fajitas in a range of other places in Cardiff including Chiquitos, Old Orleans and the West Coast Bar and Grill at the Red Dragon. In my view, the ones served at Las Iguanas are by far the best; I don't know whether its the spice mix which I find pleasantly tangy without being too hot, and with a subtle hint of lime, or whether the quality of ingredients and cooking is just better. Either way, this meal was no exception and proved incredibly tasty.

I wish I could tell you some detail about the other half's shredded beef & caramelised onion burrito (£9.90). It looked well presented on a nice salad and looked full of filling including rice and cheese. However, I was not allowed to sample this since it was, apparently, too nice to share. Next time, I shall steal a forkful when he's not looking!

Las Iguanas isn't the cheapest chain place you could visit and those who aren't partial to Latin American or Tex Mex food might not be impressed. For my money though, it's a chain restaurant that doesn't really feel like one and, on the plus side, there are often 2-for-1 vouchers floating about online for the place. It's also a great place to sample some of the small dishes and appetisers as tapas where £13.50 will get you 3 dishes and £22.50 will get you 5. Having tried a lot of the tapas on a previous visit, I can recommend the Empanada, the Chubby Gambas prawns, and the mushrooms. If you're looking for a cocktail and some quality food, why not give it a go?


  1. I agree, for a chain it's good. Tell the other half he is going to have to start sharing food though!:)

  2. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I've truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!
    Etude ETR-100 Series Student Bb Trumpet Lacquer

  3. Las Iguanas is my favourite chain too. I was at Mill Lane, cardiff city centre only last night. The foos is always good and they make a mean Long Island Iced Tea! delicious