El Loco at Slip Inn

Bars, Pubs Darling Harbour
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El Loco at Slip Inn

A Mexican hideout in the heart of the city

This inner-city pub might be famous for bringing together our Mary and Prince Frederik of Denmark, but times have changed since those heady, black-Amex days. From the outside the Slip Inn looks much as it ever did, but inside things have gone south of the border. And we mean Mexico here, not Melbourne. El Loco’s takeover of the formerly grungy Excelsior Hotel went so well they’ve branched out and taken over the sunken beer garden that taunts drivers stuck on the City Westlink with its colourful lights and party tunes – if only all incursions resulted in colourful bunting and tacos. To make the well-tailored crowds feel as far from the office as possible there are bamboo awnings, palms and potted trees, tables topped in decorative contact paper and a stereo playing anything from Madonna to Hilltop Hoods so long as it has mass appeal. Of course you can get a Heineken, Kirin or White Rabbit on tap, but we prefer to stay on-theme with bottles of Dos Equis, Pacifico and Negra Modelo. You can order tacos, quesadillas, hot dogs and a Cuban sandwich of spit-roasted pork and smoked ham until midnight, or their Mexican take on the pub steak with a tender minute steak with a spiced, fresh-tomato salsa and spiced chipotle fries at a more sensible dinner hour. Like a backpacker who can't decide which international location expresses them best, now that the Slip Inn had mastered the Mexican vibes they’re in the process of launching a Thai menu at lunchtime. Add that to the Chinese Laundry nightclub downstairs and it’s a veritable United Nations on Sussex Street.

By: Emily Lloyd-Tait


Venue name: El Loco at Slip Inn
Address: 111 Sussex St
Opening hours: Mon-Fri noon-late, Sat 4pm-late
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Worst Mexican in Sydney

I met a friend at this bar/restaurant for a catch up after many years and we both started with a frozen margarita, which was overpoweringly sweet, and with no detectable taste of tequila. We also ordered some corn chips with salsa and guacamole to accompany our drinks, when the food arrived at the table after half an hour (and only then because we had to chase it several times) the chips were stale, the salsa looked and tasted old and the guacamole looked like it was made up of about 10% avocado and 90% filler.

We switched to the jalapeño margaritas which was decidedly better than the first one but still with no taste of tequila... we each consumed four margaritas in total and couldn't feel any alcohol effect in fact we felt stone cold sober (my friend, who rarely drinks, should have been "under the table" at this stage)... we concluded that these were the weakest drinks that we had ever been served and each having over 25 years experience in the hospitality industry we both know what we are talking about.

We also ordered some pork and fish tacos, we actually think the name should be changed to "cabbage tacos" there were a couple of pieces of meat at the bottom of each of them and a slight dribble of salsa on the top the rest of the filling (90%) was raw cabbage.

We wondered if this was an obvious situation where the owners are squeezing the quality and ingredients in order to maximise profits with disastrous effects.

We won't be returning and I recommend that you try another eatery... or drink beer and eat the French fries instead.