Get us in your inbox


El Primo Sanchez

  • Bars
  • Paddington
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. The doorway leading to hidden bar La Prima
    Photograph: Declan Blackall
  2. The tacos at El Primo Sanchez
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn
  3. Inside the orange room at El Primo Sanchez with orange tiles, flooring and walls, some plants and disco balls
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn
  4. The tuna tostada at El Primo Sanchez
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn
  5. Inside El Primo Sanchez with beige tiles, some plants and decorative lights
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn
  6. The owners of El Primo Sanchez
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn
  7. Inside the blue room at El Primo Sanchez
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn
  8. The frozen cocktail at El Primo Sanchez
    Photograph: DS Oficina

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Strap in for a rollicking good time and fun drinks at this colourful cocktail bar by the Maybe Sammy Group

October 2023 update: Hidden behind a door somewhere in El Primo Sanchez is where you’ll find Sydney’s newest and coolest speakeasy: La Prima. The ten-seater intimate bar is decked out with Mexican prints and flickering candles with charming, old-school Mexican music. Our favourite bit? There’s only one female bartender who is shaking the drinks.

Speaking of booze, the cocktail list at La Prima has been curated by the formidable Maybe Sammy team. Hits on the opening menu include the Encanto with Patrón Silver tequila, dry vermouth and cherry soda; Perfume de Gardenias with Patrón Reposado tequila, peach and citrus cordial and Jasmine soda; and Pastel de Planto with Patrón Reposado tequila, banana and cinnamon cordial, salt and agave.

Plates from El Primo’s menu, including guac and tacos, are available at La Prima if you get hungry (we will).

And the catch? La Prima is invite only – so you will need to make friends with the bartenders and ask where the secret bar is…

Or, you could just stumble across it yourself. We’ll give you a hint: look for yellow.

- Avril Treasure

Read on for our original review of El Primo Sanchez from September 2023.


There are a lot of things to love about El Primo Sanchez – Paddington’s cocktail bar by the Maybe Sammy Group (Maybe SammyDean and Nancy on 22and Public Hospitality Group (Oxford House, the Strand HotelCamelia Grove and Lady Hampshire). 

So let’s start with the most important bit: the karaoke room. The entry is found at the back of the tangerine-coloured room lit up by no less than 15 glittering disco balls. And yes, we’ve heard it’s only meant to be for two people. But one night when we visited, we counted at least five people stumbling out – smiling, sweaty and looking accomplished, like they’d just ran City to Surf. So do with that what you will. When it was finally our turn, we felt like there was only one song to begin with: 'Man, I Feel Like A Woman' by Shania Twain. Let's go, girls.

Housed in a historic 1940's pub (formally the Rose Hotel) on Oxford Street, El Primo Sanchez is fun in every sense of the word. At night, the ceiling flickers with neon-rainbow lights like the ones from your school disco. As well as the tangerine room, there’s a cobalt-blue room, a similar shade to the colour of Frida Kahlo’s house that we stayed a block from in Mexico City. Bartenders look dapper in canary-yellow blazers. One of our cocktails is made from tortillas. And there’s a button you can press for tequila in the karaoke room. So yes, El Primo Sanchez is definitely fun. But it’s got a lot more going for it, too.

As mentioned, El Primo’s team is behind some of Sydney’s best bars. And news dropped earlier this year that one of their bartenders – Eduardo Conde – was crowned Australian Bartender of the Year for 2023. So, the chance of having a tasteless, watery and lacklustre cocktail here is about as high as Mr Trump admitting fault.

Of course, we order the cocktail with tortillas – but it’s not what you think. Named the Gimlet El Maiz, it’s made with Los Siete Misterios Doba Yej mezcal, Lillet Blanc aperitif and tortilla cordial. It’s got a perfect balance of sweetness, with a slightly nutty flavour, and smoky undertones thanks to the mezcal. It brings us right back to Oaxaca City’s cobblestone streets, circa 2019.

The Slushy Blushy is happiness in a glass. The colour of watermelon, the icy, boozy drink is made from Patrón Silver tequila, watermelon rosé, strawberry gum and lime. Bursting with summer fruit flavour, it’s refreshing and not too sweet.

It’s around noon on Sunday, and the team lets us know there’s a special menu on, and tacos are not available until 4.30pm. Which means only one thing – we’re in for the long haul. Another Slushy Blushy, please.

We’ve been dreaming about the tuna tostadas we tried on our first visit, so we begin with them, cooked by Mexican head chef Alejandro Huert (Chica BonitaNo. 92 Restaurant and Wine Bar and Copenhagen's Noma). Three round corn tortillas come topped with soy-habanero mayo, ruby tuna, thinly sliced wasabi leaf and furikake. The creamy mayo is packed full of umami, the fish is fresh, the fried corn tortilla provides crunch – and it’s a remix of Japanese and Mexican cuisines that we can get behind.

The special menu features a Wagyu torta. The mighty sandwich arrives piled with black beans, pulled beef that is deeply savoury, juicy and well seasoned, stringy Oaxacan cheese, avocado and tomato. The baguette is fresh with a slight crunch, lime juice provides balance, and fatty oil drips down our elbow. We don’t let a drop – or a crumb – go to waste. It’s far too delicious.

Next we try the Horchata Colada – a grown-up version of the traditional rice-based drink enjoyed in Mexico. Here, it’s made with Patrón Reposado tequila, coconut milk, macadamia horchata, rice milk and lime – and tastes like a Bounty. Over at the bar, we see one of the bartenders squeezing limes to extract the fresh juice for Margaritas.

At last, it’s 4.30pm. We go for the al pastor with charred achiote-marinated pork belly with sweet pineapple and zingy salsa verde; succulent pink ling with pico de gallo and aromatic coriander; and Blackmore Wagyu barbacoa spiked with cumin and chipotle peppers, and paired with salsa roja de miso and burnt onions.

We fell in love with the tacos in Mexico because they were bright, fresh, full of flavour – and not laden with sugary sauces and cheese like the ones you may find in some westernised joints. And while El Primo’s ones aren’t $1.50 each, they taste like the ones we’ve had in Mexico.

The story goes that P Sanchez was a slightly mysterious, sometimes loose and always dapper amigo. And while the jury’s still out on whether Sanchez was a real or fictional character, we’d love to say gracias for being the inspiration behind such a rocking bar. Now, back to the karaoke room for 'Dancing Queen'.


These are the best bars in Sydney right now

Keen for more tasty Mexican food? Check out Sydney's best Mexican restaurants here

Thirsty? Make your way around the city's finest happy hours

Avril Treasure
Written by
Avril Treasure


Ground Floor
27-33 Oxford St
View Website
Opening hours:
Wed-Thu 5-11pm; Fri-Sat 4.30pm-1am; Sun 1-10pm
You may also like
You may also like