Tracking down legit Mexican food in Sydney has typically been about as hard to find as a Messina without a queue. Fortunately for my Mexican food loving hombres, a few great Mexican joints have opened their doors serving up more tacos, guac and margaritas than you can shake a sombrero at.
Recently, Barrio Cellar has come onto the scene, so I head down (literally, it’s below street level) to see what’s up at this new Mexican restaurant in Sydney.
What was once a place of late night revelry where more than a few bad decisions were made, the old Spice Cellar location has been transformed into a Mexican street food haven in the middle of the CBD. The space itself has had a facelift with Luchetti Krelle, the folks behind the interiors at ACME, The Butler and Hotel Centennial, giving it a new lease on life.
Owned by Nicole Galloway and Peter Lew (of Barrio Chino in Kings Cross), Lew says of the new restaurant, “We had been looking for a unique basement space for some time to really expand on our current tequila and mezcal list and create a menu that is very much the heart and soul of authentic street food.”
It’s a Wednesday night at 6.30pm and this place is already nearly full… a good sign, methinks. The food menu has all the usual suspects—guacamole, tacos, quesadillas, and tortas, but it’s the drinks menu we look at first (because priorities). It’s hump day and I’m in dire need of a hug…e margarita. Fortunately for me, there are a few variations on the menu. I go with the classic first because you gotta be able to nail the classic. And they do. So I have another one for quality assurance purposes. And yes, it was still good.
With the important margarita tasting out of the way, it was onto food. The menu was developed after a trip to Tijuana, Ensenada and Baja California so it’s as authentic as it possibly can be. We start as any good Mexican food lover should, with guacamole. It’s chunky, zesty and exactly like the bucket loads of guac I consumed while lying on a beach bed in Tulum (sigh) which basically means it was on point. Next up came fish tacos which were laden with crispy fish, and even though I managed to get taco juice all down my arm, it was so good, and made even better with the addition of hot sauce.
The hamburguesa was not only fun to say (hey ma, I’m speaking the Mexican!), it was actually delicious. I didn’t expect too much from a place that wasn’t a burger joint, but it was good. Soft bun, melty cheese and pickled jalapeno. Not too fussy. Yep, we were onto a winner.
For dessert, being the lush that I am, I opted for a coffee infused shot of tequila. This wasn’t your regular Patron XO Café Tequila in all its syrupy glory. No, no, it was a house infused coffee tequila that wasn’t too sweet and not too deadly. Put your fear of tequila aside and order one of these bad boys. It’ll change the way you think about tequila.
Ah Barrio Cellar, muchas gracias for bringing proper Mexican food to the CBD. If you’re serious about getting some good Mexican into you, then take a trip to the border (well, the Martin Place border).
Hungry for tacos? Then you’ll need to check out the best tacos in Sydney.
Image credit: Barrio Cellar