Food Review: Manna Mexico
*****- If you haven’t already eaten there you really have no excuse.
Manna Mexico, 32A Regent Street, Cambridge CB2 1AB
I’ve been meaning to review Manna Mexico for some time now. It really is the best place to get a quick bite to eat in Cambridge. People have probably said this of other places before but I can tell you they were wrong. If they ever realise how wrong they were I’m sure they’ll let you slap them round their big wrong faces in lieu of an apology.
I was lucky enough to discover Manna in my first year. Although well past dinner time I was inexplicably unfed, part of an equally hungry group hovering outside Spoons, far away from the safety of the Robinson compound. It was then that a sage third year suggested that we go to a Mexican takeout place of which he was rather fond. The words ‘Mexican takeout’ sounded about as appealing as a kick in the eye, but thankfully my stomach told my head to shut the fuck up and stop being such a snob. Five minutes later I was having my first blissful mouthful of what must be the finest burrito this side of the Atlantic.
The key to Manna is simplicity. The Burrito (there are other options but trust me the humble burrito is the best) consists of fresh vegetables, meat (if you’re that way inclined), rice, beans, cheese and then salsa, guacamole, sour cream and jalapenos depending on how flush you are feeling. This is all delivered in a satisfyingly heavy and expertly wrapped tortilla package that with some practice you’ll learn to keep pretty much intact throughout your meal. All for around a fiver, and you get a neat little loyalty card that gives you a free meal after ten purchases.
‘So what?’ I hear you cry, ‘I could knock up something similar in my college Gyp for half that price!’ Well yes in theory you could, but emphasis here on the word similar. Newton Faulkner is similar to Bob Dylan in that they both play guitar and sing. I don’t know what magic-Mexican-fairy-dust Mane and his crew put in those Burritos but trust me you won’t be able to replicate it. On that note Mane, the Cheshire Cat faced leader of Manna, and his team are always bright and helpful and somehow live up to the motto ‘service with a smile’ without ever giving the impression that their souls are slowly dying beneath it all.
Manna has changed since that first visit of course. It’s now officially known by the distinctly less alliterative, and therefore less good, name of ‘Nanna Mexico’ but no one I know calls it that. It also recently started to sell, admittedly overpriced, imported Mexican beers. More significantly it now has an amazing little seating area with bottles of Cholula Hot-Sauce placed liberally on each table (you can get a bottle from the Bar Hill Tesco by the way if you’re desperate for a fix). Even more importantly, last Wednesday they had a van outside the Sidgwick site serving the exact same food as they do in their more permanent location. Leaving a lecture on Aristotelianism with the expectation of something heated up from the tin and instead seeing this van was the most enjoyable surprise since I found out Annie Leibovitz was facing bankruptcy. I don’t know if this is to be a regular fixture but I sure as hell hope so. It might actually give me a reason to go to lectures.