The days of quinoa Greek garden salads have been and gone, and the time for pulled pork tacos and frozen tropical margaritas is right hella now. While we love cruising into winter with a two kilo parma and a pint of beer in an outer-burb pub and a Seinfeld-themed weekly trivia night, nothing makes our hearts sing quite like chicken ensaladas and a two-litre mango fish bowl (name a more iconic duo, we’ll wait).
So sit back and crack open an ice-cold Corona, because we’ve rounded up a list of our favourite Mexican restaurants in and around Melbourne.
If hour-long lunch lines are anything to go by, then the CBD’s Mamasita is the best in the bizz. These guys rode into Melbourne on the new wave of modern Mexican restaurants several years ago, but they’re still kicking goals to this day with their delicious braised prawn tacos, mojo chicken tostadas and bbq octopus. Also, you absolutely can’t leave without treating yourself to an entire flight of tequila.
This Mexican tequila bar and kitchen is the latest addition to Curtin House on Swanston Street. Mesa Verde have cemented their position on the top rungs of the Melbourne Mexican scene with their crispy pork belly tacos, swordfish ceviche and Mexican chorizo quesadillas. Aside from the gourmet food menu, they also have a 10-page drinks list, which includes the Selena Gomezcal margarita, the Spice Girl cocktail, sangria jugs, tequila and endless dranks by the bottle.
Visiting the Queen Vic Market now means more than just rip-off ugg boots and hot jam donuts, and it's all thanks to Hello José who’ve nestled in on the fringe of the fresh fruit and 1D memorabilia hub. Though the menu may be pint-sized, the flavours will have you binning your Old El Paso soft taco kits before the day is through. Choose from seven different taco fillings and tummy liners like chipotle chicken wings, chargrilled corn, tostadas and churros.
Set on the corner of Lonsdale Street and Tattersalls Lane, Touché Hombre is the hip and eclectic Mexican oasis our CBD needs. Open for lunch and dinner on every day but Sunday, it's the perfect place for a casual bite (or an intense mouth shovelling) thanks to their ‘Feed Me Hombre’ lunch deal, which is forty bucks a pop and will put a fifty-year-old man into a food coma. Their big drawcards are the sweet potato taco, fatty lamb ribs and pineapple and guava panna cotta.
There’s now a reason to head to Brunswick that isn't cheap custom-fitted jeans...and that’s $5 tacos. With seven different taco fillings, including lamb, chicken, zucchini and green beans, potato and jalapeno infused eggs, all at $5 a pop, you’ll never feel so full having spent so little than at Los Hermanos. (You can then spend all that money you saved on tequila).
We don’t want to make any wild or potentially unsubstantiated claims, but Paloma Cantina has the best guacamole in the world. It also doesn’t hurt that everything else is covered in cheese and has the added option of chipotle mayo. If you don’t fill up on six bowls of guac, you should definitely treat your buds to their marinated tiger prawn fajita and pulled pork burrito, and it’d be rude not to try the chili margarita.
Mamasita fans rejoice because they have a SECOND VENUE. Hotel Jesus is the Collingwood-based little brother of the CBD’s Mexican matriarch. Smack bang in the middle of Smith Street, this tostaderia is renowned for its pork and pineapple tortillas and seafood-stuffed tacos, but also its huge range of whistle-wetters, including tequila, mezcal, cocktails and sangria on tap.
If cheap and cheerful is your jam, then Richmond’s Chingón is your man (nailed it). This delicious taqueria on Swan Street was founded by two Mexican brothers and serves up a menu built on simple recipes and authentic taste (yas yas yas). These guys specialise in tacos, tacos and only tacos, and maybe some salsa and fire roasted corn on the cob if you play your cards right. If it’s tacos you want, then it’s mind-blowingly tasty tacos you’ll get.
Queen Of The South
If you want to experience modern Mexican at its finest, then you need to book a table at Prahran’s Queen Of The South (street name: Queen Of The Modern Mexican In All Directions). Straight off the bat we need to mention their dedicated vegan menu (aka you can bring all of your frems here), but let’s not forget about their slow-braised lamb shoulder with cucumber and pomegranate salad, or their tequila and vanilla poached peaches with guava sorbet.
This fusion of food truck and fine dining is one of the biggest highlights of the St Kilda food scene. With a menu packed with juicy authentic dishes like chipotle prawn and slaw tacos, ceviche, slow-cooked beef enchiladas and potato and chorizo quesadillas, Radio Mexico is everything you didn't know you needed in a modern Mexican restaurant. A special mention also goes to the carnitas, which are bite-sized tacos with crispy cheese crust (DED).
If you’re after tradition (not nachos made with potato wedges) then you need to put a hot date to Jalisco Mexican on your calendar toot sweet. These guys have street corn to phone home about, stuffed jalapenos worth returning for and fish tacos that’ll have you ruing the day you ever ordered nachos from Taco Bill on UberEATS.
La Tortilleria is literally the only restaurant in Australia that stone-grinds its own tortillas from scratch, and take it from us, they’re muchos deliciomo(?). This little boutique restaurant is tucked away in a quiet Kensington culdesac, and is quite possibly the west’s greatest hidden secret. Every Tuesday you can grab three of their delicious tacos (made with homemade tortillas) for only $12, as well as a $5 Mexican beer or house wine. Leaving without trying their vanilla flan is also basically a crime, so don’t make the same mistake we did the first four times we went for marinated pork tacos.
Image credit: Griffin Sim for The Urban List