Milpa Collective on the Mexican expansion path across Sydney

Expansion: Liber Osorio and Pablo Galindo Vargas.
Expansion: Liber Osorio and Pablo Galindo Vargas. Photo: Lauren Gray

Pablo Galindo Vargas and Liber Osorio want to be the undisputed heavyweight in what has quietly become the most competitive and expansive food sector in COVID-era Sydney. If you haven't noticed, the city has gone loco for Mexican food.

Sinaloa landed in Double Bay, the CBD welcomed Esteban, taco truck Ricos has put down bricks and mortar in Chippendale and No. 92 and Quick Brown Fox Eatery have both launched Mexican pop-ups.

But Galindo Vargas and Osorio have even bigger plans for their Milpa Collective, which already includes Taquiza, Calita and Carbon in Bondi, and Sonora at Potts Point.

Tacos from Casa Merida's forthcoming menu.
Tacos from Casa Merida's forthcoming menu. Photo: Lauren Gray

The first move is a push into the CBD, where they'll open two venues: Santa Catarina, a mescal bar on Clarence Street, which opens in late September; and Londres 126, a "gastro cantina" with an October launch date, in Quay Quarter.

"Because of what has happened [COVID] we've been able to get into good [sites] we couldn't in the past, particularly in the city," Galindo Vargas says.

The restaurateur is bullish about the long-term prospects for the Sydney CBD, saying "the government isn't going to let it die".

Milpa Collective is taking a big punt on Sydneysiders' broadening palate for Mexican food.

Santa Catarina will dish up the mole madre from Oaxaca alongside its mescal-leaning drinks list, while Londres 126, named after Frida Kahlo's home on Calle Londres, will focus on Mexico City specialties.

"We've also just opened a restaurant in Mexico City, Mux, to build links with suppliers so we can bring more products to Australia," Galindo Vargas says.

Milpa Collective isn't focusing all its expansion on the city, however. In September they'll open Casa Merida, a 70-seater drilling down on Mayan cuisine, on Kellett Street in Potts Point.