Bad Hombres

Restaurants, Mexican Surry Hills
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Photograph: Anna Kucera
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Photograph: Anna Kucera
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It’s an animal-free 1980s party up in Surry Hills

Anyone who thinks vegan can’t be fun needs to both update their opinions from 1998 and also get to Bad Hombres, stat. What started as a Mexican Chinese mash-up from Toby Wilson (Ghostboy Cantina), Sean McManus (Neighbourhood Surry Hills) and Jon Kennedy (the Sandwich Shop) with a 60 per cent veg-powered menu has now gone the full vegan and we’re into it.

Snacks, tunes and booze are the key elements to a good time and these guys are rocking one of the best house-party playlists in town. We clock an ’80s glory run of Culture Club’s ‘I’ll Tumble 4 Ya’, Farnsie’s ‘The Voice’, Fine Young Cannibals’ ‘She Drives Me Crazy’, Dexys Midnight Runners ‘Come on Eileen’ and the Outfield’s classic ‘Your Love’. Seriously, this is an A-grade ’80s playlist and it can be yours – just look up Zangers on Spotify. 

On the booze front, they’re rocking a fruity, funky, smash-tastic line-up of local natural wines that changes all the time – small batch production means they can only get it by the case from the vineyards ­– so maybe the tropical-fruits-in-the-sun pet nat from Pyren Vineyard’s Little Ra Ra is all poured out. There’ll be something else equally refreshing to start you off. Can’t quite commit to the full bottle? These guys also do carafes of everything, so you get a second go at Tom Shobbrook’s grenache rosé that balances a little savoury funk with soft fruits. There’s around a dozen wines on the list at any time and not one disappointed us so far – order with confidence.

There’s no glowing vegan sign or mandala to indicate that this is a plant-preferred establishment. In fact, it still kind of looks like a modern Thai restaurant in many ways (which it used to be) thanks to the crimson detailing, painted brick and shiatsu cushions along the benches. But the kitchen is sporting an accent of its own making, pairing Chinese pancakes with a whole, deep-fried head of cauliflower, cashew cream and punchy herbal support from salsa verde and fresh coriander.

Start with a quesadilla of dark glistening kale and zucchini flower harbouring a polite amount of chilli heat and an extra limey guacamole. There’s the crunch, squish and squeak of an extra crisp and distinctly corn-flavoured tostada with sweet creamy kumara puree as a sauce, and a silky tangle of Japanese mushrooms on top. Blue corn tortillas carry the deep, underground flavours of Jerusalem artichokes and artichoke puree to your face, only wanting an extra lime cheek to squeeze some pep into the earthy veg. Maybe this week it’s a roasty, caramelised parsnip taco with satay, lime and pickled diced onion – next week it’ll be whatever is market fresh. 

Wilson was into the challenge of writing an entire menu based on vegetables, and uses pink pickled onion, lime and herbs as weapons of levity that he applies with astonishing accuracy, making undersung veggies the heroes of your evening.

Anyone who tells you that plant-based dining doesn’t know how to party has not been to Bad Hombres yet. Sucks to be them.

By: Emily Lloyd-Tait

Posted:

Venue name: Bad Hombres
Address: 40 Reservoir St
2010
Opening hours: Wed-Sat 5pm-10pm
Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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Last day of first trip to Australia. Although we only had one vegetarian among the group of five, we learned the way to find the most interesting restaurants is to search for vegetarian/veg. options. And within Surrey Hills, this was on or near the top of lists we found. I rode my bike through Surrey Hills four times on the visit and noticed a lot of small and intriguing restaurants dotted among the many beautiful homes. So we sought out a restaurant there for our last night. And Bad Hombres turned out to the best meal of the trip. And it was a vegan pop up restaurant. There were eleven items on the menu, and we ordered eight and would have orderded all. We ordered larger or double portions of some items. The fermented jalepino mole with chips made a ubiquitous offering memorable. The charred corn with faux jalepino mayo and furikake was a bit dry but the fresh lime really brought it to life. The confit mushroom tostada with sweet potato and black sesame was simple and light. Note, all of these easily divided into four and allowed for a bite or two of each order. The chipoltle salted fries and strawberry-topped jasmine rice pudding went very quickly, the latter of which helped quell the heat from the chipoltle sauce served with the black beans and mushrooms - order a larger portion of this. Cauliflower, in my opinion, almost never dresses up well but this was an interesting and worthy take: furikake, cashew cream and chinese pancakes. Two other comments: you pay at the counter after you are done eating. Also, this day and age it would be nice to see at least one session IPA like Pirate Life Throwback IPA on the menu. But there were only standard offerings so I went to another place before for a beer and just drank sparkling water at Bad Hombres. Our waitress was very nice. One ginsl observation. We were the only family there (it seats maybe 40). Outside of one other group of girls and guys, all of the other tables had groups of women. Nothing to be fearful of guys - this was an amazing night.