The owner of Amigos in Bury St Edmunds says he is absolutely delighted the eatery picked up the Best Mexican Establishment at the recent Food Awards England ceremony in Manchester.

What makes the accolade even more special, he adds, is the fact it was voted for by customers.

“It was crazy [to win],” says Karl Hollingsworth, still in disbelief. “We couldn’t believe we made the shortlist to be honest. We hired a party bus and decided to go up there, just to enjoy the event. We became regional winners for the east, and then overall winners for the whole thing. We were all in shock. We were happy enough just being on the shortlist!”

East Anglian Daily Times: Amigos in Bury St Edmunds, named the best Mexican restaurant in England 2022Amigos in Bury St Edmunds, named the best Mexican restaurant in England 2022 (Image: Archant 2022)

East Anglian Daily Times: Customers enjoying the atmosphere at Amigos, Bury St EdmundsCustomers enjoying the atmosphere at Amigos, Bury St Edmunds (Image: Archant 2022)

From fresh fried chicharrones (homemade puffy pork scratchings), to soft tacos, burritos, chimichangas and churros...the team at Amigos have created a menu that’s familiar to British diners, while being as true to the cuisine of Mexico as it can be. Everything is made from scratch, including the sauces, while meat comes from St Edmunds Butchers, and other produce twice a week from the town’s brilliant grocer, Faraway Foods.

Karl opened Amigos in 2016, taking on the first floor premises of a former café, and spending a lot of time and money bringing colour and soul to the space.

Mexican food is something he’d become very familiar with early on in his career. After catering school Karl worked at another Mexican restaurant in Bury St Edmunds from 2006, running the kitchen for the owner before it was sold.

East Anglian Daily Times: Karl Hollingsworth, owner of AmigosKarl Hollingsworth, owner of Amigos (Image: Archant 2022)

“I just thought, there’s a market for this. I had all the recipes I needed, I’d locked them in my head. And 10 years later I went into this with a business partner. We found the right premises, that were the right size, and decided to go for it. Luckily the gamble paid off.”

Karl says Amigos has the “holiday vibe”.

“When you walk up the stairs we have Latin music playing. It feels like you’re getting away from it all, and that’s exactly what we wanted. Add to that our home cooked food and really good staff, and it all comes together so well.”

He reels off some of their best-loved dishes.

“I love our nachos. I think you have to start with those. We fry them here and make all our own guacamole and salsa. It's a really nice sized portion.

“My favourite main dish is the Dinga Fajitas. There’s a story to go with that one. We had a regular customer who used to come in here who sadly passed away. It was his favourite thing, so we named it after him. It’s chicken and steak with onions and peppers, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, rice and beans.”

East Anglian Daily Times: All the food at Amigos is made fresh every single day, including the sauces and dipsAll the food at Amigos is made fresh every single day, including the sauces and dips (Image: Archant 2022)

East Anglian Daily Times: Fajitas at Amigos, Bury St EdmundsFajitas at Amigos, Bury St Edmunds (Image: Archant 2022)

There’s a children’s menu which is “a bit different to other places. We do have a burger and chicken, but there’s also fajitas, quesadillas and burritos – they're all quite popular.”

Desserts are kept simple. Churros...or the new deep-fried ice cream.

And as for drinks, Karl says there’s a big selection of Mexican beers, including a chilli beer made specially for the restaurant by one of the waiting staff. Plus, a hit with customers, Margarita with a bottled of beer poured over.

“We’re all about the fun here. It’s really casual. And there’s such a great atmosphere, especially if you come in later in the evening when the music’s a little bit louder, people are singing along and wearing their sombreros [these are on the tables to wear if you like, and you can buy them to take home for £5].

“People should come and give us a try because we’re totally different to anywhere else around here. We’re not your average Mexican.”

Amigos is at 35-36 Brentgovel Street. It's open from 4.30pm to 9pm Monday to Thursday and midday to 10pm Friday and Saturday.

On Mondays it’s two for one on Margaritas, and on Taco Tuesdays it’s two for one on tacos when you purchase a drink. Enjoy two for one cocktails from 12noon to 4pm on Saturdays.

What's what on the menu?

Guacamole: Lightly spiced, crushed avocado with fresh citrus juice

Pico de gallo: A raw salsa of tomato, onion, chillies, lime juice and coriander

Tacos: A soft corn flatbread filled with seasoned meat, fish or vegetables, with salad and sauces

Burrito: A filling of fish, meat or vegetables, marinated, or with a sauce, wrapped up in a soft tortilla with rice, beans and cheese, topped with guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo

Chimichanga: Similar to a burrito...but deep-fried

Quesadilla: A variety of fillings pressed into a large tortilla and chargrilled

Enchilada: Corn tortillas filled with marinated meat or vegetables, baked and topped with cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream

Fajitas: Sizzling meat, fish or vegetables served with homemade salsa, sour cream, cheese, refried beans, rice and tortillas

Taquitos: Fillings rolled up in a corn tortilla ‘cigar’ and fried, served with salsa

Verde sauce: A piquant salsa of tomatillos or green tomatoes with onion, chilli, garlic, and coriander

Mole sauce: A thick, warming, earthy sauce made with nuts, chilli, spices and sometimes fruit and cocoa