El Nido Mexicana, Sunderland
Head for Sunderland’s mega Mexican joint for street food-style plates with big-time flavour; smoky chicken tostadas, spicy tacos and burritos, jam-packed with beans, salsa, salad and meat, and fabulous fajitas that might slop down your front, but will make your belly very happy indeed. Take advantage of the ‘taco Tuesday’ deals and wash everything down with Jamaican-style margaritas.
46A Frederick Street, Sunderland, SR1 1NF; elnidomexicana.com
Red’s True BBQ, Newcastle
Trays loaded with ribs, wings, giant steak and brisket slabs, pulled pork and sticky glazed chicken, all cooked low and slow ’til melt-in-the-mouth tender. Mighty, sloppy burgers (the Pit Burger promises a meat feast, smothered in ‘dirty’ sauce) and fries loaded with smoky beans, blue cheese and nubbly ‘burnt ends’ to chew on.
intu Eldon Square, Newcastle, NE1 7AP; truebarbecue.com/newcastle
Turtle Bay, Newcastle
A colourful Caribbean chain restaurant that transports you to far-off, tropical lands of rum, reggae and hot sauce. Think cool cooking with hot flavours that’ll have you licking your lips and wanting more. Jerk pit and jerk glazed loveliness, from whole shell-on tiger prawns to crispy, chicken wings and slow-braised pork and beef ribs, to curried goat and West Indian steamed snapper done BBQ-style in foil. Vegan options available.
The Gate, 117 Newgate St, Newcastle, NE1 5RZ; turtlebay.co.uk
Fat Hippo, Jesmond
One of the North East’s most famous burger joints, loved for its inventive toppings and quirky combos. The oozy, deep-fried mac ’n’ cheese balls, PB+J burger (beef topped with chunky peanut butter and bacon jam), Veggie Gastro (spicy bean patty with mozzarella and pesto mayo) are things of glory. If you can squeeze the cookie dough pie in too, go for it.
35A St George’s Terrace, Jesmond, NE2 2SU; fathippo.co.uk
Gourmet-style burgers and kebabs made with 100 per cent prime cuts, fired up and seared and seasoned until juicy and dripping. Our faves? The French Bulldog (sweet fried onions, brie and coarse ground mustard) and the Gaucho (American cheese, jalapeños, chilli bacon, sour cream, guac and sweet chilli jam).
96 Elvet Bridge, Durham, DH1 3AG; tangodurham.co.uk
Port of Call, Sunderland
This place’s all-American feasts go all out; think steak and chilli-cheese fries, ‘trash-can’ loaded nachos, Philly cheese steak sarnies, brisket in brioche with lashings of American yellow mustard, buttermilk chicken and BBQ pulled pork with slaw, and spicy hot dogs as long as your arm.
1 Park Lane, Sunderland, SR1 3NX; portofcall.co