Fancy some olé with your molé? Try Melbourne’s most happening Mexican joints – and don’t forget the hot sauce.
From a tiny Richmond-shopfront beginning this locally owned Tex-Mex juggernaut has grown into a seven-strong chain including a vast CBD mothership. Named after the Mexican home kitchens that invite all comers, these joints are fast and friendly – and the cocktails ain’t bad, either.
31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne; 03 8686 7300
Cantina St Kilda
A Day of the Dead motif adds to the cool cachet of this bunker beneath the Prince of Wales Hotel. Grinning motif skulls and flickering candles conjure a fitting mise en scène for fried-fish tacos, Mexi-burgers and cheese-laden braised lamb enchiladas.
2 Acland Street, St Kilda; 03 9536 1175
The Mexican tsunami first crashed at the top end of Collins Street and judging by the crowds lining up on Mamasita’s stairwell each evening it shows no sign of abating. Bide your time, if you must, at the bar with a tamarind Margarita, then enjoy a feast featuring slow-cooked molés and tacos stuffed with barbecued meats and sprightly salads.
1/11 Collins Street, Melbourne; 03 9650 3821
The Black Toro
Mexican street food meets restaurant values at this smart suburban joint. You’ll get grilled corn on the cob lavished with chipotle mayo and toasted masa but it also pays to expect the unexpected in the form of an elegant mezcal-cured salmon dressed up with coriander meringue and salmon roe.
79 Kingsway, Glen Waverley; 03 9561 9696
Mamasita’s younger sibling is a retro-style, party-hard joint that feels a bit like downtown Guadalajara 30 years ago. The tick-a-box menu promises lots of fun with lip-staining blue-black mayo on the grilled corn and a green chorizo taco stuffed with mini-fries. Visit www.hoteljesus.com.au.
174 Smith Street, Collingwood; 03 9419 3111
Strike another one for the vegetarians. Trippy Taco shows Mexican food can have a clean conscience while going dirty (look no further than the original black bean tacos, doused in hot sauce and jalapeño peppers).
234 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy; 03 9415 7711
6 Acland Street, St Kilda; 0401 530 509
The menu at this rugged, character-filled Brunswick taqueria might be short and sweet but it makes everything count, with seven styles of taco backed by a zippy ensalada de nopales (marinated cactus salad topped with fetta and coriander).
339 Victoria Street, Brunswick; 9939 3661
This street-eat hotspot takes its booze mighty seriously. Make a beeline to Radio Mexico for a tequila tasting flight (sipped, not slammed) and house specialties such as the sticky chipotle tamarind pork ribs.
11-13 Carlisle Street, St Kilda; 03 9534 9990
Hit the luridly coloured dining room attached to this tortilla factory in backstreet Kensington for a zesty guacamole, pirata carlos (a beef, cactus and cheese tortilla melt) and a taco el pastor (marinated pork with pineapple).
72 Stubbs Street, Kensington; 03 9376 5577
Guzman Y Gomez
With 11 Melbourne outlets this Australian Tex-Mex franchise chain is hard to miss. Look out for their build-your-own burritos, enchiladas and tacos across the burbs and CBD.
From the MoVida team comes this simple tacos-only joint dishing up one-hand wonders from a shipping container in the MoVida Aqui forecourt. The legal district never had it so good.
1/500 Bourke Street, Melbourne; 03 9633 1222
Top image: Trippy Taco