Modern-day taqueria Los Hermanos in Brunswick. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
LOS HERMANOS IS A MODERN-DAY, month-old taqueria, part of the sexy new breed spilling from Melbourne's CBD to its suburbs (think Radio Mexico in St Kilda or Chingon and Fonda in Richmond), with an informal, youthful edge and street food rooted in Mexican culture.
Owner Bruno Carreto, 35, says he ditched his job in corporate tax to create ''a real Mexican taqueria'', somewhere cheap and open late that offered an alternative to pizza or kebab.
''I grew up with my grandparents cooking every day for me,'' says Carreto, who was born in Mexico City and spent 18 months working with ''taqueros'' (street taco vendors) back home to learn the ropes.
Chicken sopes are a signature at Los Hermanos. Photo: Bruno Carreto
Party lights are strung in the burnt-orange courtyard - festive, like a mate's backyard. Inside, it's all dark and moody with low-hanging globes and warm timbers, including the chunky hand-made bar.
A bamboo curtain blocks off the kitchen, its jingly-jangly strands signalling the promise of food. On the timber tables, El Yucateco hot sauces stand at the ready.
I reckon I've eaten the entire Los Hermanos menu, from its bean-stuffed gorditas to cactus and feta salad to signature sopes. Ten or so items are scrawled on the chalkboard and nothing is over $7.50, but you'll need three or four to fill you up.
The tacos at Los Hermanos. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
Start with gorditas, thick corn discs stuffed with refried beans and manchego and ricotta cheese. Soft corn tortillas (sourced from El Cielo, Melbourne's first tortillaria) hold fillings such as lamb, slow-cooked on the bone so some bits are charry, with lemon, coriander and garlicky, tomatoey ''drunken sauce'', made with black chilli, guajillo chilli and a slosh of beer. Sopes, the thick rounds of tortilla, are made here and come topped with shredded chicken and carrot cooked up with chipotle in adobo sauce, vinegar and bay leaves.
Carreto says the ''vegetarianos'' section had him and his mum stumped ''because in Mexico there are no vegetarians''. They took ages but they did good - vego offerings include juicy mushrooms, or garlicky zucchini cooked soft, with sweet corn kernels, coriander and tomato and manchego cheese - have it as a taco or on the sopes.
Los Hermanos isn't unbearably hipster - yet - and there's an all-comers, neighbourhood vibe with a few families in early and older couples kicking back.
Great news on the drinking front: Los Hermanos got its licence last week and a range of tequilas and mezcal, margaritas, Mexican and craft beers is coming soon. Brunswick summer nights never looked so good.
Do … Pretend you're in Mexico
Don't … Be afraid to order up a spread
Dish … Chicken sopes
Vibe … Cool, like it will soon be an institution
- (03) 9939 3661
- Cuisine - Mexican
- Prices - Tacos, $5; sopes, $6.50; gorditas, $6.50 for two; cactus salad, $7.50
- Features - Licensed
- Chef(s) - Bruno Carreto
- Owners - Bruno Carreto
- Cards accepted - AMEX, Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
- Opening Hours - Mon-Wed and Sun, 6-11pm; Thurs-Sat, 6pm-1am
- Author - Nina Rousseau