We've come a long way since the days of Tex-Mex being the only speed our Mexican food came in. Now you can get regional specialties, vegan alternatives and hot sauces with enough fire power to send you to the moon. And then there's the tequila. Prime your palate for the holiday flavours of Mexico with these Sydney hot spots.
This particular stretch of Bayswater Road, where so many restaurants have failed to thrive, is not where we expected to find Sydney’s best Mexican food, but suddenly this barren field is bearing delicious bounty in the form of a whole snapper, deboned and dressed like a traffic light in a zippy green tomatillo sauce on one side of the spine, a smoky red salsa on the other. What sweet relief to eat tacos from a menu where you didn’t have to tick a box for extra guacamole.
At Chica Bonita (Spanish for beautiful girl) order the crackling with avocado. It’s just like walking through the fruit markets in Mexico City. There’ll be a guy with a big pile of chicharron (pork skin that’s been deep-fried so it puffs up like a crunchy pork cloud). He’ll break off a piece, dip it in a massive bowl of guacamole and hand it over. Here at the restaurant, head chef Alex Wong is serving this classic street snack on a silver dollar-sized corn tortilla. Crunch.
Melbourne’s new wave of Mexican venues saw Fonda’s bring sunny, holiday dining to Richmond, Windsor, Collingwood and the CBD. Now the momentum of that tequila-powered breaker has rolled all the way to Bondi’s golden shores for the first Sydney edition, and it’s already trending. In fact, weekend wait times have been reaching the two-hour mark, so consider dining at 6.30pm on a Monday. At that sedate hour you can walk right in, sit down and order a jalapeño kombucha Margarita (#Bondi).
Trying to pack too much into a burrito is a rookie error. You don’t need to fit the full flavour spectrum of Mexico inside a tortilla, and frankly it’s asking too much of a simple piece of flat bread, anyway. The chefs at Playa Takeria, the Mexican bar and restaurant on the old Fish Face site in Darlinghurst, know this. They have their burrito game on lock.
Prepare to fill your belly with chimichangas (a type of fried tortilla) and beware going too hard too soon. Avoid eating too much melted cheese (queso fondido) first up – tomato salsa is melted with heaps of cheese which you scoop up with house-made corn chips – incredibly moreish but also incredibly filling.
The latest Sydney Mexican joint can be found on Pitt Street in the city, doing a roaring trade in guac and blackened corn, messy, glazed pork ribs, lamb shoulder tacos and agave-glazed caramel fudge. If you are out for a big one then we say get comfy with the massive tequila list as a first port of call.
Welcome to the first Mexican restaurant in Sydney where you can order fried crickets. And it's in Bondi Junction, of all places. This is some benchmark Mexican food, right here. The kitchen team, led by Matthew Fitzgerald, is serving a menu of fresh, spicy tastiness that steers away from your regular Syd-Mex fare.
This little cantina is just a few footsteps from the beach. The bar at the back is stocked with tequila ranging from Dos Equis to some serious offerings such as 1492 and Don Julio. The tortillas, when served as soft shell tacos, are char-tinged and soft – they make them in-house with an old-school tortilla press made from two bits of wood and a hinge.