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 summer 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 fishbowl (name a more iconic duo, we’ll wait).
So sit back and crack open an ice-cold Corona (no, not that one), because we’ve rounded up a list of the best Mexican restaurants you can find in 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 has 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 Queen Vic Market now means more than just rip-off ugg boots and hot jam doughnuts, 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.
Taquito took a while to find its footing, but has now established itself as some of the best Mexican eats this side of the city. Concerned with authenticity first and foremost, you can trust Alec Villarreal (the Mexican-born owner) and Paul Clarke (the Mexican-food-obsessed New Zealand-born chef) to take you on a culinary journey to Mexico City and beyond.
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.
Bodega Underground is brought to you by the folks who got their hospitality experience at Hawker Hall and Royal Saxon, so we can guarantee they know what they’re doing. Tacos and booze are the ultimate combo for any day of the week, so you can enjoy Mexico’s best (and booziest) culture in Bodega’s cool underground venue. Plus, you can’t beat their 3 am tacos.
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).
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.
South Of The Wall
Still one of our favourite openings of 2017. South Of The Wall stole our hearts with their endless margarita menu (TEN different margaritas, baby) and their Donald Trump mural in the sunny courtyard out back. A cracking venue for work functions, after dark tequila shots and lazy Saturday arvos. The decor has a vaguely Tikki kinda feel. Weird, but it totally works. Pro tip: go the kingfish ceviche.
Bodriggy & Co
The Bodriggy & Co menu is quite robust and a little more ‘sophisticated’ than your typical Melbourne Mexican place. I mean, if you tend to roll your eyes at the sight of ‘tacos’ on your run-of-the-mill pub menu, there’s none of that here. Instead, we’re talking ceviche, cauliflower steak if you want to get fancy and even some juicy beef short rib if you’re feeling hungry. There are also tacos, of course. And they’re great.
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.
Nestled on Gertrude Street is Trippy Taco, Melbourne's entirely vegetarian Mexican restaurant. Open for a late breakfast and well into the evening, Trippy is the hotspot for craft-beer-swilling hipsters, but in no way should that deter you. Get your butt into that cute space and order a sangria jug, teamed with a big plate of nachos and a burrito and topped all off with some sick beats, then tell me you don't love it.
Serving up some of the most delicious and pocket friendly Mexican eats around, Village Cantina in Yarraville is a top contender for some of Melbourne’s best Mexican eats. With plenty of deals, including cheap tacos and dinner combos, you’ll want to hit up this colourful little eatery stat.
Si Senor Art Taqueria
“Eat, Drink, Love Taco” is Si Senor’s motto, and we’re definitely vibing with it. Not only does the quirky taqueria have one of the best and colourful courtyards around, but take a seat and order up some truly stunning Mexican eats. From tacos to chunky guac, wash it all down with some tequila or margaritas and you’ve got yourself a fiesta.
Image credit: Tacocat | Griffin Simm