The recently opened Leeds Trinity shopping arcade is a big improvement on the grotty 70s maze that used to be there and has brought a number of shiny new stores to add to the city centre. Disappointingly this does seem to have largely been done by encouraging existing shops to move to the new space, leaving their old stores empty, but most of those do seem to be being relet so that over the coming year it will have added to the city rather than merely cannibalised existing shops. It has also got a number of new restaurants but unfortunately most of these are parts of larger chains which already have branches in the area. One exception to this is Cielo Blanco, a Mexican cantina owned by the same family which runs one of our favourite bars from when we lived in the city centre, Oporto. Thankfully, it isn’t just another Tex Mex place catering to the bland “burgers and cocktails” diner- there’s a TGIF for that. It specialises in “street food” that works well for shoppers and local workers looking for something a little different while out in the city centre.
I went for lunch on Friday with my wife and a friend who was up visiting for the weekend and we opted for the street food selection where we each chose three dishes for a very reasonable £10.95 each. Unusually for such menus, there was no restriction on the choice of dish – often restaurants exclude the pricier dishes from the deal, but Cielo Blanco didn’t. All the food was very fresh tasting and varied with zingy salsas and dips to brighten up the potential stodge of deep fried empanadas and quesadillas. The range of Mexican beers served ice cold in frozen glasses was good too, even though, unfortunately having to drive later on to pick up OMB from school meant I couldn’t go through the list! The staff were attentive and enthusiastic about the cuisine and the place was very professional and slick in a way that independent one offs often fail to be. It wasn’t surprising that the aspiration is for the restaurant to be grown into a chain in the future.
It is certainly worth a visit if you’re in Leeds and worth looking forward to if they manage to expand the franchise to other cities.