Pumping up the Scoville Scale
— Mexican food at “Pinto”, just off St. Georges Sq.
Mexican places have become quite a huge thing in Glasgow lately. While a lot of these places tend to give you heartburn, Pinto is somewhat different — they promise fresh and organic food. “There is a Fiesta in my mouth, and you’re all invited” is the promising slogan and it says it all.
Our photographer Lewis and I tried some burritos, which were a good size and tasty. We especially enjoyed the Chipotle salsa, which gave the meal some kick and was the perfect choice to cover our rice and beans mush. We also had a chance to talk to the owner — a huge Breaking Bad fan with an interesting view on the Mexican cuisine.
Pinto Mexican Kitchen – Credit: Lewis Boron
Pinto: How did you like it?
The Edit: To be honest, I thought this burrito could’ve been a lot hotter.
Yeah, that’s true. We put a lot of research into the Mexican food culture and it turns out there is an addiction to spice. So every couple of months we pump up the Scoville Scale on the Habanero Sauce.
So from what it started of, it’s many miles above. It’s getting up and up. When we first opened, it was around 200,000 units. By now, we’re three times up. We’re above US pepper spray. The one the NYPD uses.
How did your customers respond?
A lot of people find it too hot. But after they’ve had our food a couple of the times, they say “you know what, it’s not hot enough” — and so their addiction starts. I’ve actually had to make a risk assessment for making the Habanero sauce …
There are many places in Glasgow that promise fresh food. How can you even be fresher than them?
We are 110% fresh. There’s no freezers, no microwaves. We cook our pork every night, from a minimum of 10 hours. Our chicken is Halal. The sauces are all made in house. Nobody else has got the recipes. For example, everybody knows the ingredients for the KFC coating mix. The pinto recipes are treasures.
But you are trying to expand.
Well, this is the only Pinto just now. Plans are in the pipeline for a second one in the West End. We have plans for three in Glasgow and three in Edinburgh.
Why do you think “Pinto” will work in Glasgow?
It’s a big Americanthing. And our target audience are students. A lot of students have been to America, I believe. Or at least they’re interested in the American way of life. We know that we have a really big student cliental, which is great.
When I think ofMexican food, the first things that come to my mind are Tequila and heartburn.
Just now this is the biggest growing food industry in America — the Burrito bars themselves. America has a huge Mexican population. But especially in the south it’s Tex-Mex, its not really Mexican food. The Burrito itself is not Mexican, it’s American. We do a combination of Tex-Mex and Mexican food.
What’s with the music?
I chose all the music myself. When we opened, it seemed quite cheesy. I think people expected that, but after a while it became really annoying. I’m a big Breaking Bad fan. They use a lot of Latino music in the newer episodes. So after I’ve watched an episode of that, I thought this music is brilliant for the “Pinto”. Furthermore, there are three Mexican who work for us. And they keep me up to date with what’s going on. A lot ofthe music you would hate.
Speaking of hating the music — do you expect your customers to sit in?
50/50. We call it “casual dining”. This is the new way that food is going in America. People want cheaper food, more accessible food, rather than having a sit-down. You won’t find a place in Glasgow that sells the quality and quantity for the price that we sell it.
Josa Valentín Mania-Schlegel