A plastic parrot hanging outside the door, tiny kitchen, simple decor, very cold outside toilets and handwritten bills all add to the basic image of the Blue Parrot Cantina in Stockbridge. For many locals the no frills approach of the Blue Parrot Cantina is a huge part of this neighbourhood Mexican’s charm. Originally we’d intended to eat at the nearby Bells Diner, but their offer of a late shared table held no appeal. Thankfully no reservations were needed at the Blue Parrot Cantina, but by the time we left space was at a premium.
The menu at the Blue Parrot Cantina needs no introduction, as it is largely standard Mexican fare. However ceviche for starter (swordfish, salmon, ling, tuna and prawns) and vegetable fajitas for main (baby corn, aubergine, butternut squash, mange tout and green beans) could raise an eyebrow or two. Even though only a couple of other tables were occupied we waited a long time for our frozen margherita (¬£4.50) and bottle of Dos Equis (¬£2.80) to arrive. Later we’d wait what seemed like an eternity for our main courses. Service was with a smile, but rarely at the right pace.
Before the mains, we shared a starter of nachos (¬£3.30). This dish resembled a creative pizza with jalapeno and pepper topping. The tortilla chips were delicious. For those of you who enjoy nachos with sour cream, guacamole and refried beans you’d either be left disappointed or with a few ¬£2.20 side orders on your bill as the nachos were only served with a watery salsa dip.
When the mains finally arrived it was a pleasant surprise to find a small salad bowl included with the chicken fajitas (¬£10.95). There was enough to share and this provided a light and refreshing diversion from our substantial mains.
Serving fajitas minus the sizzling plate isn’t against the law, but it is against the norm; the Blue Parrot Cantina breaks with tradition and serves the tortilla shielded fajitas on a plate, next to rice topped with chopped tomatoes. Two small cups of guacamole and sour cream round up the accompaniments - we’d have both preferred some cheese, refried beans and a greater assortment of trimmings. The olive oil, lime and garlic seasoning of the chicken was a treat for the tastebuds though.
My chicken enchiladas (¬£8.85), which I requested without cashew nuts were competantly done, but the filling wasn’t big or bold enough to elevate them above average. The refried beans, which I love, were too pureed for my liking.
After hearing some locals describing the Blue Parrot Cantina as a hidden gem, I was somewhat disappointed with what I found. That’s more a problem with my expectation than the Blue Parrot Cantina itself though. The Blue Parrot Cantina is a reasonably cheap and cheerful little Mexican restaurant, which is a worthy addition to the variety of restaurants in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge area.
The Blue Parrot Cantina is located at 49 St Stephen Street, Edinburgh, EH3 5AH.
Telephone: 0131 225 2941.