13 Carlisle St St Kilda, VIC 3182
|Opening hours||Tues-Sun 4pm-late|
|Features||Licensed, Outdoor seating|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
WHERE AND WHAT
Hola! Another Mexican restaurant has been swamped from the get-go by the growing army of local taco addicts desperate for their pulled-pork chipotle fix. Radio Mexico has loads of appeal, thanks to its easily accessible central St Kilda position, insouciant pop-cultural style and the now-familiar menu that's more Mexican than Tex-ican.
WHERE TO SIT
The no-bookings policy has entered a Faustian pact with the new wave of Mexican restaurants mushrooming across the inner suburbs; Radio Mexico is no exception, but at least it lets you grab a table before the rest of your dining compadres have arrived. Get there early for your pick of the real estate - my choice is the window tables looking on to Carlisle Street, but perching at the bar has its definite perving advantages. The place itself is funky without being overstyled. A food-truck shell greets diners as they enter, whereupon it morphs into a Mexican motif superimposed on your regulation Melbourne shell: concrete floors, shabby-chic wooden furniture, colourful hangings, Day of the Dead flourishes and Mexican chotchkes. And cactuses. Yes, cactuses.
WHEN TO GO
Monday to Friday, 4pm to late; Saturday and Sunday, noon-late.
Something about the soul-funk soundtrack cranking on the stereo makes me want to drink margaritas. There's a great selection of Mexico's favourite spirit, but tequila-dodgers have plenty of other bebidas from which to choose. There are three types of Mexican beer, including the entry-level Tecate, plus six whites and six reds by the glass.
Nachos are a controversial subject. Radio Mexico dodges the bullet with its chilaquiles, a breakfast dish served at the wrong time of day. Fair enough. Chicken and green sauce with queso fresco is an antidote to every yellow-cheese gloopfest you've ever endured, but eat quickly before these, too, meet a soggy end. Quesadillas cooked on the barbecue are great - cheesy potato and chorizo with a squeeze of lime are total lip-smackers, while crab tostaditas (crunchy corn circles loaded with toppings) prove that marrying seafood with sweet corn is a very good idea. Rockling ceviche has the potential to divide tables over the merits of ruby grapefruit hanging out with the avocado and red onion, but pork fans will love the roasted belly with super-crunchy crackle in an oily braise of peppers with the arroz verde (herby green rice). Best order the three salsas to mix and match.
Hello, my pretties. You don't have to be a part-time model to eat here, but it helps.
Prime people-watching over tacos and Mexican beer - could life get any better?