El Cartel



A night at Spank! is the ultimate Edinburgh Fringe experience. Spank! takes place in a beery basement in the Cowgate. It features 6 or 7 comedy acts and lasts from midnight until 3 am. 

The most infamous part of Spank! is undoubtedly the "naked promo", whereby any audience member can promote his or her own show to the rest of audience (a good 200 people) on the condition that they do so naked. Invariably it's some hairy-arsed beta male telling you that his Game of Thrones improv really is worth the £6. The whole thing can be rather depressing.

Last year I performed the naked promo myself, promoting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed between Iran and a suite of other powers with a mangina.

However, by far the best story I've heard was from a friend who went along early this August. One particularly lairy audience member shouted at the naked promoter "Your cock looks like a snail!". Within seconds the audience were chanting "SNAIL!" again and again, presumably until the poor man jumped into a canal. 

I had to get back to Spank! again this year.

After doing battle with the heaving crowds on the Royal Mile to get my tickets, I needed a frozen margarita.

El Cartel has 4 slush puppy machines going at any one time. The gorgeous, tooth-achingly sweet margaritas will really mellow you out. 

Here's a good acid test when eating Mexican: if a "taco" is a giant crisp, like the overgrown village idiot of a Dorito hamlet, then don't bother.

Fortunately El Cartel seems to take a lot of pride in its food. 

The guacamole was brilliantly executed, garnished with pomegranate and feta, and arrived within 45 seconds flat of ordering. 

The main feature are the tacos. Ox tongue with salsa verde and radish is a rare treat, with the consistency of a rolled-up Lorne sausage. It turns out ox have very large tongues. They also have a pleasing dry and crisp quality. Embarking on one of these generously-sized tacos is like frenching Gene Simmons after a dry weetabix.

Steak tacos with dried tomato, duck with a faintly Chinese honeyed chipotle, and cod are all excellent too. 

I'm no chicken wing zealot. There is a place in this world for baked wings. But why bother? They will never match the luxurious bite of the humble fried wing. El Cartel's come in a decent chilli sauce.

The Frijoles, a drunken mess of cheese, beans and other beans is undeniably tasty, although it will leave a black hole of impossibly dense anti-matter in your stomach. 

On a sunny day with the doors at El Cartel open, you can sip on a frozen margarita, enjoy excellent tacos, and dream up all the devastating things you can shout at a nervous naked man at 2am. Bliss.