PARENTS fighting the constant battle to eat out with their offspring while resisting the appeal (to them) and ease (to the adults) of repeated trips to burger bars or pizza palaces can add a new weapon to their armoury: Las Iguanas.

This small chain offers Mexican cuisine in a very relaxed atmosphere, with enough choice to keep everyone happy and some very authentic tastes.

They employ a team of laidback but extremely helpful staff not a flicker of an eyebrow when we trailed in with seven under-nines in tow and wanted a table for 10, on a wet Saturday lunchtime.

Las Iguanas is tucked away in Seven Dials, in the middle of the courtyard of shops built just outside the Theatre Royal, so is handy for Bath centre while being off-street enough to feel quite relaxed.

As well as the main restaurant area it has tables outdoors for non-rainy days, and a downstairs cocktail bar.

The decor is relentlessly Mexican, and the whole place is stuffed with artefacts, making it great for families because you can spend hours spotting different things on the wall and ceiling displays and trying to identify them if the kids ask what it is and you're not sure, make it up, they'll never know and your explanation will probably be more interesting than the reality anyway.

I'm told that at night the atmosphere is fast and furious, as the restaurant is firstly a popular pre-show or night out meeting place and then a popular place with diners.

Aware of the need to eat fast, as our environmentally-friendly trip to the bright lights meant we had a bus to catch home, the three adults had restricted themselves to choosing from the two-course lunch menu at £6, although we could have added pudding for just another pound Las Iguanas' menu bristles with special deals like this, which offer excellent value for money.

We resisted calls for coke from the kids, telling them this was a proper restaurant, and fed them all from the £3.50 children's menu, admittedly only one course but real food.

They variously went for the quesadillas, or south American pizza; fajitas with plenty of chicken, roast peppers and onion filling; chargrilled chicken escalope and pescado nino, which to be honest bore a remarkable resemblance to the fish finger, all with curly-whirly chips.

A delicious chorizo and new potato salad, which came in a generous portion, was followed by pollo taquito, or chicken in tacos, for two, while I went for the albondigas, or Mexican meatballs, which turned out to be fiercely spicy but delicious, a real taste experience, although I am assured not everything on the menu is as hot.

I vote Las Iguanas a find: real food in Bath, with lunch for ten at under £50.

Las Iguanas

12 Seven Dials, Sawclose


Tel: (01225) 336666

Fact File

Open noon-11pm Mon-Thurs, 11.30pm Fri/Sat, 10.30pm Sun.

Booking strongly advised for weekends

Prices start at £2 and range upwards for the a la carte menu. £6/£7 special all day, and party menu at £15 a head.

Lots of vegetarian dishes

Smoking only allowed in the downstairs bar

l Credit cards accepted