There are some interesting things happening in Highett. It used to be one of those ‘blur suburbs’—something you see out the car window as you’re cruising down the Nepean Highway. But the food scene in the last few years, particularly the buzzing junction around Highett Rd and Railway Parade, is throwing up some really cool stuff. The Diplomat already has the Sunday brunch crowd on lockdown, and now Hot Lips Hacienda has arrived to make Friday nights a LOT more fun.
This place is modern Melbourne Mexican down to a T, which means attitude, small share plates and big, big flavours. A Hacienda is technically a Spanish estate or plantation, but the menu here is all about street smarts: tacos spiked with the flavours of Michoacán or Baja (think pork belly, topped with fresh onion, coriander and salsa roja, or grilled fish and watercress smothered in house-made chipotle salsa).
Start the night with some ‘Botanas’ (small, entrée-like plates). You HAVE to try the Elotes Callejeros, a grilled cob that gives Mamasita a run for its money: smoky-charred corn and a dusting of queso fresco, finished with a big lug of Hot Lips’ signature chipotle sauce. Absolutely delicious.
Vegos and vegans are well catered for, with a bunch of animal-free dishes on offer. Even hardcore carnivores wouldn’t turn up their nose at the Cuatro Quesos quesadilla: a crispy four-cheese beast stuffed with Oaxaca cheese, goats cheese, mozzarella and grated tasty, spiked with salsa roja. There’s a fully-stocked Cerveza, vino and cocktail menu to keep the punters happy, not to mention five different margaritas, for when things get messy (go the ‘Negra’—oak-aged tequila, coffee and dark chocolate—YUM). Time to top up your Myki and get your ass to Highett station, amigo.
Image credit: Hot Lips Hacienda