18 May Sydney Life Online Article – 10 Great Mexican Restaurants in Sydney – 4 May 2016
Arriba! Cantina makes the cut for this year’s list of Great Mexican Restaurants.
Article by Peter Haroldson.
There’s a lot to love about Sydney’s Mexican restaurants- the bright decor, the unique textures, and the tall margaritas all make for one tasty dining experience. We’ve braved the spiciest salsas to compile a list of 10 recommendations to get you started.
1. So Cal, Neutral Bay
One of the more recent additions to the Sydney Mexican dining scene, So Cal brings something a little different to the city’s northern suburbs. With its succulent smoked meats encased in griddled flour tortillas, the menu at So Cal is an ode to Southern Californian cuisine and its beach-inspired fitout and welcoming, leafy courtyard will make you feel like you’re in an honest-to-goodness Cal-Mex taqueria. Whether you tuck in to a plate of smoked brisket or a serve of delicate scallop ceviche, you won’t be disappointed.
2. Cantina Movil Food Truck, Sydney
The menu at Cantina Movil consists of only three things: nachos, burritos and soft shell tacos, but this simple offering allows it to focus on perfecting these much-loved staples of Mexican cuisine. Fill your tacos with slow roasted chipotle beef or citrus and guajillo pork, then grab some churros ice cream on the side for the ultimate Mexican street food experience.
Uruguayan meets Mexican at this cozy little restaurant in Marrickville, a Latin American cafe-cum-restaurant serving up the best kind of home-cooking-inspired cuisine. A must-try is the ‘sopa azteca’ (tortilla soup), a rich red soup topped with crisp slivers of crunchy tortilla. Make sure you also try the ‘chivito’, the Uruguayan take on a steak sandwich, which features an assemblage of thin tender steak piled with everything from ham to hot chips.
4. El Topo, Bondi
El Topo features an inspired Mexican fitout; the tabletops are covered in colourful hand-painted tiles, there’s a shrine to the Madonna and Dia de los Muertos skeletons are everywhere you look. On the rooftop, El Topo’s chefs work with ingredients such as guajillo chilies, avocado leaf, jicama fruit and cactus to deliver share plates that will surprise, entertain and make you call for another round of mezcal. Enter through the Eastern Hotel at Bondi Westfield.
5. Chica Bonita, Manly
The street food at Chica Bonita is well worth the trip down the arcade just off Manly’s Corso. Décor wise, this is as Mexican as Sydney gets. The bar is plastered with colourful tiles and the grim festivities of Dia de los Muertos are around all year long. Even the toilets are plastered in cutouts from Mexican newspapers. The brains behind this outfit have the drinking/eating balance down pat with killer margaritas, local Mexican beers and heavenly tacos and tortillas you’ll keep coming back for.
Considered to be one of Sydney’s most authentic Mexican eateries, Dos Senoritas prides itself in serving up simple Mexican dishes full of flavour. With sombreros, sky blue walls and rainbow ponchos, this popular restaurant fills up quickly on the weekends, so either book early to avoid the queues or head to their newer opening in Crows Nest. Enjoy complimentary corn chips and spicy salsa on your arrival, then choose from a selection of tacos including gringo style (flour), street style (corn) or tex mex (crispy), and fill them with your favourite meats, beans and vegetables.
7. Flying Fajitas Sistas, Glebe
From their lip-smacking margaritas to their huge array of tequilas to their collection of epic hot sauces, there’s plenty to like about Glebe’s Mexican mainstay on Glebe Point Road, Flying Fajita Sistas. With tacos-a-plenty and a good range of vegetarian options, this is a firm favourite for group dinners to kick of the night. Prices are reasonable and servings are generous; make sure you try the queso fundido, a moreish dip made of gooey Mexican cheese served with crisp corn chips.
Dan Hong’s Mexican joint has become something of a Sydney institution, and it’s no wonder; Sydney was basically mex-food-free until Merivale’s star chef took over the kitchen of the Excelsior Hotel. Enjoy the cheap-and-cheerful fiesta-filled decor and a menu inspired by LA taco trucks, grab yourself a jalapeno margarita and a ‘mystery taco’ and settle in for an afternoon of good times.
9. Mejico, Sydney CBD
Mejico (pronounced ‘Meh-hi-ko’) is where to go if you want a proper sit-down feast of high-quality Mexican food. With its vibrant interior, buzzing atmosphere and extensive cocktail list, it’s easy to see why Mejico is busy every night of the week. The beef short ribs and the truffled corn are both must-tries, but it’s the guacamole that’s really the big deal at Mejico — freshly smashed to order at your table.
10. Playa Takeria, Darlinghurst
Visit Playa Takeria and you’ll be greeted with glistening strips of marinated pork spit-roasting on a rotisserie. Burritos are the signature dish here, with the ‘el chignon’ pork and the grilled chicken being popular choices. For lovers of fish, the ceviche tostadas will surely whet your appetite; these crunchy tortillas are topped with lime-cured barramundi or snapper, shredded cabbage and a spicy Mexican seasoning.