The top end of Little Bourke Street is a bit of a mishmash. It’s joined to Chinatown, but there’s Italian, Thai, some strange Asian-fusion buffet, a restaurant devoted entirely to chicken parmas, a 20-year-old wine bar, and now, a Latin American bar on the first floor of an office building.
There’s a portable speaker in the lobby of the office busting out the frenetic jams of Afro-Cuban funk from upstairs, like a grown-up version of balloons to announce that this is where the party’s at. You’ll experience a slight disruption of muzak in the lift, but it doesn’t last long. On arrival, Vamos looks more like a carpeted dive bar than a South American drinking hole. Never mind that: everyone seems to be having a good time.
Surprisingly enough, there are no office workers using Vamos as their knock-off bar. Rather, there’s a plethora of young faces ranging from uni students learning how to drink to the backpackers ordering rounds of shots. It’s loud in here between the banter and the music, but hey, it keeps the energy up.
Drinks are pretty straightforward. If you want to feel a bit youthful, veer towards the Mexicola (tequila, Coke, lime and Tabasco) or a frozen Margarita for an even $10. It is guaranteed to bring back house-party memories. For something to sip on, the Grumpy Vicuna is a tall whisky-ginger concoction balanced with caramel that’s guaranteed to get you in a good mood. For a bit of heat, the Ahumado sees a blend of tequila and paprika in a tumbler over ice. Sounds weird on paper, but is bloody addictive.
Share plates show a Latin American influence. The beef shin empanadas are deep fried, arrive as a couple, stuffed with chunks of braised meat and potato with a side of smoky mayo and salsa. Tostadas come in threes with toppings varying from mushroom to chorizo to pork shoulder, but require a bit of salt.
Vamos isn’t the kind of place you go to for some low-key intimacy. Between the fast beats, spicy eats and shot list, this hidden bar is designed for cutting loose. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that at all.