Fun: Regina Bueno Ros and Bildo Saravia act as though you're in their apartment. Photo: Fiona Morris
Before you groan at yet another Mexican joint in Sydney, this Bondi bolthole is a little different. While Mexican in Sydney tends to be cheap and garishly cheerful, Mr Moustache has donned his bow tie and is trying to lift his taco, guacamole and tequila game.
Sure, they're not the only ones doing Mexican in a classier, hipper way (think El Topo in Bondi, Mejico on Pitt Street) but the drawcard here is Mike Tomasic's cocktail menu.
The winner of the Global Angostura Cocktail competition is doing spectacular things with agave and serving it up at a marvellous marble bar inside the redeveloped Hakoah complex.
Tinga de Pato at Mr Moustache in Bondi. Photo: Fiona Morris
The regal backdrop channels a French bistro that Mr Moustache owner Regina Bueno Ros says is truer to the real Mexico than the Tex-Mex version we mostly see in Sydney. ''The French obsession comes from our Mexican president,'' she says. ''So we think we're sophisticated but we're not quite, it's blended in with the street feel. It's like two worlds and I think that combination that makes Mexican unique.''
The food covers the usual street dishes and Bueno Ros and her husband, Bildo Saravia, gallivant around the place as though you're in their tiny Mexico City apartment - cackling with laughter, swigging Mezcal and experimenting with a bizarre electric shock device that is a tradition in Mexico, so they say.
A bowl of vibrant guacamole comes with beetroot chips ($13) and the fish tacos are deliciously crisp. Tostadas and tacos go for fewer and fresher ingredients and it works.
Platitos, comfort food-style bite-size portions, are well-matched with the beers but I found the popular street food, Esquites (warm corn off the cob topped with mayo, fresco cheese, $7 each), overly gluggy and served up strangely in individual shot glasses.
The wine list was nothing to write home about, giving you more reasons to lap up Tomasic's superb cocktails.
Mezcal, pisco and tequila are shaken into cocktails divided into categories such as light and fresh, spicy and savoury or boozy and bitter, all at $18.
Everything from pink peppercorns to pineapple gum is utilised to make beautiful, unusual cocktails worth travelling from Mexico for.
Start with a refreshing Harbour City Cooler (Calle 23 Blanco, Dolin Blanc infused with Thai basil, green Chartreuse, Bittermens Celery Shrub, lime, sugar, $18) and finish with Mr Moustache's take on an espresso martini with Single Estate beans and Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters ($18).
They also do a darn fine Michelada (Mexican street favourite of beer, lime juice, spices and peppers) with house-made sangrita and Tomasic has included his award-winning Plymouth cocktail for gin lovers.
A Mezcal flight (four 15 ml serves, $30-$75) is a fun way to be educated on the indigenous Mexican spirit, which varies wildly depending on its plant variety and terrain. The selection swings from a wet, clay-like El Jolgorio Cuixe to a spicy, floral Del Maguey Tepextate to a spectacular chocolate-y, oak-barrel aged Agave de Cortes Extra Anejo from Oaxaca.
When the smoky spirits get too much, head to the list of Mexican beers with matching taco recommendations. Now that's fancy.
Despite a rather sterile location in the redeveloped Hakoah complex (the view outside is a bland shopping centre), word has spread quickly and Mr Moustache is packed almost every night. One Thursday night, we're perched on stools virtually on top of the chefs (no complaints) in the open kitchen because the place is so rammed.
You'll love it if … you're interested in exploring the finer side of Mexican culture.
You'll hate it if … you never want to look at guacamole and tequila again.
Go for … fish taco, Pepperland cocktail, Michelada.
- 02 9300 8892
- Cuisine - Mexican
- Prices - Cocktails $18, beers $9-$12, wine by the glass $10-$12, tacos $7 each.
- Features - Bar, Licensed
- Owners - Regina Bueno Ros and Bildo Saravia
- Opening Hours - Monday-Friday 5pm-11pm, Saturday-Sunday noon-11pm
- Author - Rachel Olding