Dinertec @ Juan Chihuahua, 373 Sauchiehall Street

SHORT days and dark nights in the big city and I was in need of a splash of sunshine to cheer me up.

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I hadn't been down Mexico way since a skirmish that didn't end well in my early gumshoe days.

So when I clocked a new place opening on Sauchiehall Street with the giveaway name of Juan Chihuahua, I though I might risk a trip down memory lane.

The Moll, fancying herself a bit of a tempestuous senorita, was gussied up in a black lace frock for the event, and a good job too.

The vibe is more upmarket than you might expect, but warm and welcoming all the same.

We slid into a roomy booth upholstered in chili-hot red and prepared to do battle with one of the biggest menus we'd ever seen.

We were going to need a stiff drink.

Toots opted for a frozen strawberry margarita while I was dreaming of a big glass of sangria.

"Sorry, I'm afraid that's Spanish, not Mexican," apologised our charming waitress.

Oops. Time for a tactical rethink, so I ordered us the house red, which arrived in double quick time in an earthenware jug with matching cups. Very authentic. I was starting to feel like Eli Wallach in The Magnificent Seven.

Even in Blondie's company I have seldom seen a cocktail disappear so fast - once she got to work with her straw, her vibrant red drink was reduced to a whitey-pink glass of crushed ice in seconds. And it counts as one of her five a day.

Chomping on delicious complimentary tacos, we were finally ready to order.

I plumped for the Pollo Frito to start, six chicken wings in a sweet and spicy sauce on a bed of salad. The Moll went for the chicken quesadilla, chicken wrapped in a toasty flatbread. Both looked a feast for the eye, served on colourful red and yellow platters that you can pick up for a song in Mexico, but cost a small fortune in the gift shops of the West End.

The lady opposite pronounced hers a tasty triumph, if a somewhat messy one, while I loved the tender wings. I'm not one for the hottest dishes on the menu (except for the Moll herself, I add hastily) but these were zingy without giving me any singing in the ears.

Juan's menu encourages you to try out a lot of mix and match options, so for mains I had the taco combo, two crispy shells, one filled with pulled pork and one with prawns. It came with rice, refried beans, salad and dipping sauce - amazing value for the price and all delicious, though the sauce on the pulled pork was just a tad sweet for my taste.

The Moll opted for the Burrito Campechano, a flour tortilla filled with chicken and beef strips with rice, pinto beans, lettuce and sour cream.

Judging by how quiet she went, and how she cleaned the plate, I was guessing it hit the spot.

Overordering as usual, we'd asked for an extra portion of chunky fries, which came dusted with spices and were fantastically more-ish. And I've made a new best friend - jalopena mustard. Sounds scary, I know, but try a tiny dollop on your fries for a whole new taste experience.

The Moll had worked up quite a thirst and was angling for another cocktail. I was feeling indulgent, so I let her ring the changes with a Toronha. No girly margaritas this time - Jaun's are rightly proud of their vast Tequila collection and this one came topped up with Triple Sec, grenadine and grapefruit juice. A serious drink, and seriously delicious.

We thought we were too full for dessert, but once again were enticed by the sharing platter - a dinky portion of each of their six choices, including cheesecake, apple and cinnamon enchiladas, ice cream, cookies, and the star of the show, churros (Spanish, sorry, Mexican, doughnuts) with a weird but wonderful chocolate chilli sauce.

Juan's is a hot new spot, and when the Moll rummaged in her purse and produced a voucher which knocked half the price off some of our choices, the sun really did come out.

STARTERS

Pollo Fritto £5.95

Quesadillas Pollo £4.25

MAINS

Taco Combo £5.95

Burrito Campechano £9 (£4.50 with discount)

Chunky fries £2.50

DRINKS

Jug of house wine £12.95

Strawberry margarita £7 (£3.50 with discount)

Toronha £7

DESSERT

Dulces taster £9.95

TOTAL £56.55

Food - Excellent

Atmosphere - Good

Service - Good

Food and drink

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