A must If: Mexican food done right in England

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El Guaca has a large menu featuring many Mexican dishes, including the chimichanga shown here. (Kyle Alvarez/Stars and Stripes)

Tucked away on a side street off Newmarket’s main drag, High Street, is a Mexican restaurant called El Guaca.

I went for lunch on a generally overcast and foggy English day, so El Guaca’s vibrant and colorful aesthetic was a welcome contrast.

The colorful interior of El Guaca Mexican restaurant in Newmarket, England.  The restaurant is approximately a 20 minute drive from RAF Mildenhall.

The colorful interior of El Guaca Mexican restaurant in Newmarket, England. The restaurant is approximately a 20 minute drive from RAF Mildenhall. (Kyle Alvarez/Stars and Stripes)

I also appreciated the cleanliness of the place. It seems that the staff pays attention to the finer details of the dining experience.

The menu is filled with a myriad of authentic dishes including tacos, paellas and fajitas. Manager Jose Ribeiro said chefs spend every morning preparing meats that have marinated overnight.

One such chef is Cezar Da Silva, who is also co-owner of the El Guaca restaurant chain.

“He comes once a week and forces the chefs to cook a meal,” Ribeiro said. “If he tastes it and it doesn’t live up to his expectations, he’ll throw it in the trash and ask them to try again. That’s what occupies this place. The consistency of our cooking is amazing.

With this knowledge of the care taken in food preparation at El Guaca, I decided I had to try my favorite modern Mexican dish, chimichanga.

This fried burrito, for me, is the basis for judging whether the restaurant knows what it’s doing.

Often I find the meat to be dry on the inside or too crispy on the outside. This pork chimichanga, however, was delicious. It had the right amount of crispy exterior and was extremely well flavored, retaining the marinade juices perfectly.

The combination of sour cream and fresh guacamole was well done, and the fresh red and yellow peppers inside were a great pairing for the fried tortilla that wrapped the whole thing.

The portion sizes were a bit smaller than what I’m used to in the US, but after living here for a year, I’ve come to see this as a cultural aspect. However, despite the smaller portion, it was still quite filling.

For dessert there is a good mix of options. I chose coffee and bunuelos, which are a fried dough fritter traditionally found in Spain and Latin American countries with ties to Spain. They can come in a variety of styles.

El Guaca offers a variety of desserts, including bunuelos.  Fried dough fritters are traditionally found in Spain and Latin American countries, and they can come in a variety of styles.

El Guaca offers a variety of desserts, including bunuelos. Fried dough fritters are traditionally found in Spain and Latin American countries, and they can come in a variety of styles. (Kyle Alvarez/Stars and Stripes)

El Guaca makes balls of dough fried with cinnamon and sugar, served with dulce de leche and chocolate fudge sauce. They paired beautifully with the coffee and ended the meal deliciously.

El Guaca opened in Newmarket five years ago and has developed a loyal following. Nights are when the restaurant is busiest, so it is recommended that guests intending to dine there make reservations.

The chain has additional locations in Maldon, Colchester and Clacton-on-Sea.

El Guaca Mexican restaurant in Newmarket, England, about 20 minutes from RAF Mildenhall.  It is part of a chain which opened in Maldon seven years ago.

El Guaca Mexican restaurant in Newmarket, England, about 20 minutes from RAF Mildenhall. It is part of a chain which opened in Maldon seven years ago. (Kyle Alvarez/Stars and Stripes)

El Guaca

Address: 4 Exeter Road, Unit ½, Newmarket, England

Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 12pm-10.30pm; Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m.-11 p.m.

Prices: Entrees range from 5 to 8 pounds; tacos and other street foods cost between 9.50 and 16.50 pounds; seafood and paellas are 14.50 pounds to 15.50 pounds; fajitas and burritos are 11.50 pounds to 19.50 pounds; vegan and main dishes are 4.50 pounds to 12.50 pounds; coffee and desserts range from 2.10 pounds to 6.75 pounds.

Contact information: Telephone: 0 1638 665345; Online: facebook.com/elguacamaldon; Twitter @ElGuacaMexGrill

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