Eleven years ago Mamasita threw up its proverbial hands and initiated Melbourne's Mexican wave. A flood of recent openings has renewed the momentum, backed by a trio of trends: vegan-friendly menus, bottomless brunches and quesabirria tacos. For the uninitiated, birria is a soupy stew from Jalisco, quesa refers to melty cheese, and quesabirria tacos are filled with the aforementioned, fried and then served with consomme for dipping.
Seddon's Superchido opened in May with a menu that highlights Mexico's regions. Signatures include stew and taco versions of birria, along with carne asada, which hails from Sonora in the north, and is served with house-made tortillas. A boozy, bottomless taco lunch launched on Melbourne's first weekend out of lockdown.
Melbourne's west has scored two more Mexican venues, albeit less traditional. A third Rosa Mexico landed in Williamstown (think chipotle chicken wings and a cranberry "martini" with cotton candy), while Bobby Dre's Cali-Mex food has made waves in Werribee since March, slinging handmade tortillas across taco high teas and bottomless brunches (there's another in Newtown, Geelong).
Hecho en Mexico arrived in Heidelberg on June 4, the seventh franchise of the Brunswick Street original. The menu leans towards Tex-Mex and burgers, but there's also a dedicated vegan menu with jackfruit tacos, tofu fajitas and cauliflower ceviche. The bottomless brunch can also be veganised.
During lockdown 2020, MoVida sold Mexican meal boxes to support international visa holders. They were such a hit, it prompted owner Frank Camorra to appoint Sarai Castillo as head chef of Tres a Cinco, which replaced Bar Tini late last year. Castillo serves dishes such as aguachile, brocheta de pollo al pastor (chicken skewers with pineapple sauce) and queso funido (melted cheese) with spicy chorizo – not to mention eight kinds of margarita.
Sydney-based Mexican restaurant and tequila bar Mejico brought its tableside guacamole, mashed in a mortar and pestle, to Pink Alley off Little Collins Street. Tacos showcase local produce, such as Gippsland lamb in barbacoa, and the two-storey venue boasts more than 260 varieties of tequila and mezcal.
Mexican food also rolled up on wheels, with Dingo Ate My Taco first parking alongside the Maribyrnong River in July 2020. Owner Paul Walcutt grew up in Austin where his family ran barbecue restaurants, while partner Kady Simkins was raised between California and Alice Springs. Everything is made from scratch, from blue corn tortillas to salsas. The signature quesabirria tacos are especially good, but they also stuff tacos with carne asada-style kangaroo and huitlacoche corn fungus.
Superchido, open Wed-Thu 5pm-9pm, Fri 5pm-10pm, Sat 1pm-9pm, Sun 1pm-8pm, 82 Charles Street, Seddon, superchido.com.au
Rosa Mexico, open daily 11.30am-9pm, 187 Nelson Place, Williamstown, rosamexicano.com.au
Bobby Dre's, open Mon-Thu 11.30am-3pm and 5.30-9pm, Fri-Sun 11.30am-9pm, 54 Watton Street, Werribee, bobbydres.com.au
Hecho en Mexico, open Mon-Thu 11.30am-9.30pm, Fri-Sun 11.30am-10pm, 94 Burgundy Street, Heidelberg, hechoenmexico.com.au
Tres a Cinco, open Wed-Thu noon-10.30pm, Fri-Sat noon-11pm, 3-5 Hosier Lane, Melbourne, tresacinco.com.au
Mejico, open Mon-Wed 11.30am-11.30pm, Thu-Sat 11.30am-midnight, 1 Pink Alley, Melbourne, mejico.com.au