We had dinner at Cielo Blanco Leeds on a whim one night last week, partly in laziness because we didn’t feel like cooking, and partly because my partner had a hankering for Mexican food. So, Cielo Blanco it was. Owned by Leelex Ltd., who also run several Call-Lane venues, Cielo Blanco echoes the Mexicana vibe of Neon Cactus in a more grown-up setting.
The restaurant is on the second floor of Trinity Leeds, but don’t let that put you off. As you enter the venue you leave the stark blandness of the shopping centre far behind you (I’m always a little bit surprised when I leave, to find myself back in the world of escalators & high street chains). Cielo Blanco Leeds is all bright colours and low lighting, Latin-style house music is suffused with the sound of cocktails being shaken, ice being poured and the chatter & clatter coming from the semi-open kitchen. You are hit too, with mouth-watering fresh cooking smells, which all add up to give the restaurant a feeling of authenticity and locality that is hard to create anywhere, let alone in a shopping centre.
We were seated by the door, usually an unfavourable position, but in this case not a problem at all (maybe because the door wasn’t constantly open and closed, or maybe because ‘outside’ isn’t really outside, but we didn’t feel the usual blasts of cold air associated with door-side tables). The staff at Cielo Blanco Leeds are really friendly and have a great knowledge of the menu and allergens. On arrival we were given complimentary, home-made corn chips with a trio of house salsas, varying in levels of spiciness but all really flavoursome, which were a welcome snack whilst we perused the menu.
The restaurant offers a range of Mexican-style food designed for sharing, including street- and market- dishes, sharing boards, and feasts served family-style. They also offer individual mains and salads for those seeking more formal dining. We chose 6 small plates to share from the Street Food Experience menu. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that we were able to choose from quite a wide range of vegetarian options that either were wheat-free or could be adapted to be. We both agreed that the resulting spread, a mix of tacos, quesadillas, tostadas & a side of corn-on-the-cob, was delicious. All the dishes complimented one another and we both tried a bit of everything, and came away feeling pleasantly full.
Cielo Blanco Leeds’s drinks menu is equally as impressive as its food menu. They offer a regular range of beers and wines, but the real focus is on the spirits: with ten tequila-based cocktails, plus another five South American style non-tequila drinks, they also stock an extensive range of tequila and mezcal offered straight up or with a choice of garnish.
After some deliberation I ordered a classic Mojito, one of my favourite cocktails. It was just as a mojito ought to be: fresh and minty, a little sweet, a little sharp and full of flavour. My partner ordered a Mai Tai, which he enjoyed, and a minor hiccup with the drinks order resulted in a Pink Grapefruit & Pineapple Margarita for us to share. The bittersweet, exotic flavour made me wish I’d been a bit more adventurous to begin with.
Market street sharers are £11.95 a head, based on three small plates per person. I always enjoy tapas-style eating, and it is a rare treat for me to be able to try a bit of everything on the table. Cielo Blanco Leeds has raised the bar for Mexican food in the city and, offers great variety for every diner.
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— Zoe EatsLeeds (@ZoePickburn) 8 July 2016