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It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Taco Toccata

Movida, Los Amates, Anáda, Sonido, Trippy Tacos, Senorita’s, Mamasita, The Newmarket Hotel, Taco Trucks and Taco Bill

Mexican? Music to my ears. South American? Grills ahoy! Whether its soft tortillas or tapas, Melbourne is flooded with frejoles and black beans these days (sounds messy).

The following article is an expansion on the stream of consciousness take of these occasional missives, and is the direct result of some emails I had from one of our regulars, Briony! To whit:

I am trying to decide whether I like Trippy Tacos. Now, given that you are officed right nearby, surely you have an opinion. It seems that one must be extremely fast in shovelling taco to mouth before the tortilla disintegrates into mush. This somewhat constitutes a fail in tacohood really. Plus a lot of the people who go there appear to be rather dim and certainly incapable of closing a door properly behind themselves in the freezing cold.

Quite right too. Listen, I have tried the Trippy Tacos a couple of times. Here's the m.o.
A year or two ago, they were around the corner in Smith St, and did a fair-to-struggling trade. Now they’re on Gertrude St, next to a great record shop (Northside Records, supplier to Radio Vapours!) and one or two other groovy eateries, they are packed continually.

Are you vegenenarion (sic)? If so, power to you. I’m planning on giving up flesh and some stage in my life to adjust my karma. Some veggie friends of mine swear by Trippy Taco, and drive significant distances to get their tuck.

Me? Sigh, well, they seem to lean a bit heavily on black beans, and everything ends up being a bit squelchy and smooshy. Of course, Mexican food is super trendy and "so hot right now", it's getting ridiculous, and you almost can't move for pop-up caravans offering guacamole, soft tortillas and prawn tacos.

I could also mention how scruffy scruff bags all sit on the gutter down the alleyway on a Friday night with green plaits and skateboards – hangin' at the veggie spot – and also how it's not alone in the windy dept. La Niche, my local French caf around the corner on Smith St, is FREEZING... but worth it. And with spring coming, the garden out the back will be just fabulous.

Have you tried Senorita's? Much more delicious, but also much more expensive. Great cocktails too, and without the frenetic 'hurry the fuck up and eat and get out' of Mamasitas. I was asked by a manager of one of Melbourne's top restaurants about whether the tacos at Senorita's were authentic. This question has amused me for days.

Authentic tacos, well, hmm, let me see.

That would have to be... Mexican.... For less than $1 per taco. If I am paying $6 per taco, and I don't get a side serve of frijoles and rice (made so passé by Taco Billsters), with a mystery pickled something and a serve of Pico de Gallo, then my answer would have to be a no. However, if by Authentic one means 'are they really really not like Taco Bill's or Old El Paso' then the answer would be yes.

So this begs the question.... Will Melbourne ever see AUTHENTIC tacos? Is such a thing possible?

I am yet to come across the Taco Truck but I have a suspicion that therein may lie a clue.

Kit (outro):

I dunno, Briony. I think I HAVE been to Senoritas, does that have the bar that walks through at the back?

Meanwhile, it sounds like you've actually been to Mexico. I had a stop over in El Paso and did a day trip to Juerez while there (not for cocaine, though they do have a great sign on a mountain facing into the States which reads "The Bible is the Truth- Read It!"), and mostly just crushed las cucarachas, drank cervezas and ate TexMex while there. Thoroughly authentic but not inspiring.

But here, without going into the ins and outs of Mexican/South American/Spanish/Portugese/Incan food and how it is so two years ago, are my recommendations / links to the restaurants mentioned above, in my preferred order:

1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne (OK, this is high end fakey Spanish tapas, but whatev's)
(03) 9663 3038

Los Amates
34 Johnston St. Fitzroy (this joint's pretty Mexicany- went there with our American friend Ann who was impressed)

197 Gertrude Street Fitzroy VIC 3065 (More trendy tapas)
www.anada.com.au (their website has been hacked at the time of this missive)
(03)9415 6101

16 Meyers Place, Melbourne (Mexican in an alleyway, near a bike themed bar)

Level 1, 11 Collins St, Melbourne (Hottest ticket in town, with annoying queues down the stairs)

The Newmarket Hotel
34 Inkerman St, St Kilda (CJ McKenzie's pub group link here - soft tortillas and a grill)
(reviewed here)

69 Gertrude St, Fitzroy(More South American grill style)

Taco Trucks
Try your luck. Check around Meyers Place.
(Check this article – Simone the girl in yellow)

Trippy Taco
234 Gertrude St, Fitzroy (Hippy burger bar)

and for the mention:

Taco Bills
Everywhere (OK, almost Maccas, but c'mon. Margarita madness anyone???)


Burkey said...

Kit - there's also a great meh-hican place up the north end of Lygon st, where the restaurants stop and the pokies start.
They've got loads of tequila, resposito, etc, and the food is tasty, in a not-like-taco-bill kinda way.
They do margharitas, but not by the litre, and don't have 2-4-1 Tuesdays.
Check it out!

Ann said...

Radio Mexico St Kilda. Great margaritas. Yummy pulled pork taco. Not quite there in terms of cost and authenticity but enjoyable!