The original Latin American restaurant chain, Las Iguanas, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and we’ve finally got a branch in Harrogate. Me and the mister went along to share a lunch and imagine we were in sun-drenched Havana.
Sometimes it feels like everyone else has experienced something before I have. I’m guessing most people have tried their local Las Iguanas restaurant as they are a pretty popular chain, especially if you like latin american food. And while I’m all for a local independent (up to now we’ve always tried longstanding indie La Salsa Posada), I’m also a fan of new experiences (and shiny new interiors I must confess). So when Las Iguanas finally made it to Harrogate I was happy to give it a whirl.
Margaritas and fajitas are a winning combination that I’m not immune to but when Greig and I sat down to an early lunch (on a school day) I couldn’t quite face hard liquor so we swerved the 2 for 1 cocktail deal, delicious as they sounded, and went for a long fruity cooler each while we studied the vast and varied menu. There really is something for every taste here, which to my mind often signals a lack of authenticity but Las Iguanas is catering to every age and appetite. Like I said, it’s good to try new things and there’s certainly lots to try here. What’s great is there are loads of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options as well as a kids menu too.Having said that we did dive straight into an appetiser of guacamole while we made up our minds (I am an avocado-loving cliche). But to my surprise and delight, the dish came with the separate ingredients ready for you to mix up yourself and spritz with a wedge of lime. It was good to see exactly what goes into your food and I like a bit of DIY, plus it tasted really fresh (because it wasn’t pre-prepared no doubt) – nice touch!We then decided to share three tapas dishes as a starter and they arrived hot, tasty and well presented. We had the Gambas -butterflied shell-on prawns that came in quite a creamy sauce made with garlic lemon and chilli that was so nice I’m glad they’d supplied ciabatta slices to soak to up (although they were just a touch on the stale side for me). However the Calamares, deep fried squid in cayenne and cassava crumb with alioi was great and the Dadinhos was amazing. This Brazilian classic is a dish of crispy fried cubes of smoked cheese which were so light, fluffy and delicious I could have eaten the lot to myself (and not even bothered with the sweet chilli jam accompaniment). For mains, we decided to explore the menu a bit including the sections From the Flames and Brazil & Beyond. Greig chose the Halloumi churrasco skewers – honey glazed halloumi with beetroot, artichoke and pepper in a honey peri peri sauce served with sweet potato mash (or cassava fries if you prefer). This was fine but lacked a bit of finesse while I went for the Bahian chicken which sounded quite authentic. Chicken pan-fried in cumin, coriander and cayenne is cooked in a creamy coconut sauce with ginger and garlic and served with spring onion and shredded greens. Again the presentation was a little disappointing after the other dishes but it certainly packed a punch and tasted delicious. The chicken was moist, tender and the sauce was fragrant and well spiced. It was also a very generous portion so Greig managed to polish off what I couldn’t finish.Feeling pretty full, we’d already decided not to do dessert but were persuaded by the very lovely and helpful waitress who recommended we share a light vodka jelly with sorbet, which was really good! By the time we wandered out into the bright afternoon sunshine with full bellies and just a hint of vodka in our veins, we were definitely feeling the latin american spirit. As you can see Las Iguanas is a bright and fun venue with lots to feast the eyes and appetite on. With its all day happy hour cocktail deals and varied, tasty menu I can imagine this place is going to be a real crowd-pleaser in Harrogate, especially in the evenings when the restaurant caters well for large groups as well as smaller ones. It’s obvious why this restaurant chain is celebrating 25 years, they’ve got their offer spot on and genuinely try to please every diner who walks through the door.
Check out the website for more details and a sample menu.
Las Iguanas, 1 John Street, Harrogate.
Thanks to Las Iguanas for providing a complimentary meal for the purposes of this review.