Word on the street is that P Sanchez was a slightly mysterious, sometimes loose and always dapper amigo. While the jury’s still out on whether Sanchez was a real or fictional character, they sound like someone you’d have a ripper time with over beer and tacos.
And that’s exactly what you’ll have at El Primo Sanchez, the new Mexican bar and restaurant in Paddington from the team behind Sydney’s multi-award-winning cocktail bar Maybe Sammy (as well as Time Out’s Best Cocktail Bar of 2022, Dean and Nancy on 22).
Reminiscent of the colourful watering holes dotted throughout Mexico, it’s the first venture partnership from the Maybe Group (also Maybe Frank, and Sammy Junior), and Public Hospitality Group (Oxford House, the Strand Hotel, Camelia Grove and Lady Hampshire) to bring this beauty to life.
“Authenticity is paramount for us,” says the Maybe Sammy group co-owner, Stefano Catino. “We didn’t want the concept to be a nod towards Mexican culture, spirits or food, it had to be a respectful homage.”
Speaking of drinks, you’ll be pleased to hear the tipples are top-tier, which makes sense as the list has been curated by an all-star team including Mexican-born bar manager Eduardo Conde. Choose from the Gimlet El Maiz, which uses a cordial made from toasted leftover tortillas (yes, really); the frozen Slushy Blushy, with a rose and watermelon wine, strawberry gum and lime, and a Margarita made from freshly squeezed limes. Tequila and mezcal are used to replace traditional spirits in classic cocktails; there’s Mexican beers on tap, in tins and bottles; and a Spanish-leaning wine list.
Distinguished Mexican chef Alejandro Huert was brought on to create the menu at El Primo Sanchez. Huert has worked at several three Michelin-starred restaurants around the world including Alinea in Chicago, Noma in Copenhagen and Quique Dacosta in Denia, as well as Pujol in Mexico City. Here in Sydney, he’s had stints at Chica Bonita and No. 92 Restaurant and Wine Bar.
It wouldn’t be a Mexican joint without tacos, of course. Highlights include the al pastor with 12-hour achiote (a spice mix) marinated pork belly cooked over coals and served with pineapple, salsa verde, onion and coriander. Or, choose the chicken carnitas with chicharrón (fried pork belly), avocado, salsa and coriander. Other hits include a tuna tostada with koji-habanero mayo, pickled turnip and wasabi leaf; and charcoal tiger prawns with a chilli butter.
“I have great access to premium Mexican ingredients in Australia so the dishes are developed around those ingredients and supplemented by fresh, local Aussie produce,” says Huert.
Housed in a historic 1940s pub (formally the Rose) on Oxford Street, the venue's interior features high and low seating, booths for larger groups, and a handsome red-tiled bar. And it’s colourful. Like, really colourful. Rainbow neon lights light up the room like a high-school disco, and there’s one room that’s completely orange (adored with 15 glittering disco balls, no less) and one that’s royal blue. All up it’s bright, fun, and we dig it.
When the sun goes down, be sure to book a session at the two-person karaoke room (the door is in the orange room), which, crucially, has its own button to alert the staff when you need a tequila shot. (And don’t worry, the room is soundproof, so diners outside won’t hear you singing your lungs out to ABBA.)
El Primo Sanchez will be open four nights a week initially, Wednesday to Saturday, from 4.30pm until late. Walk-ins only. Find out more info here.