Ghostboy Cantina

Hole-in-the-wall: Toby Wilson, owner of Ghostboy Cantina, has moved on from making coffee.
Hole-in-the-wall: Toby Wilson, owner of Ghostboy Cantina, has moved on from making coffee. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Dixon House Food Court; Little Hay Street Haymarket, New South Wales 2000

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Opening hours Noon-sold out; 5.30-8.30pm
Features Cheap Eats
Prices Cheap (mains under $20)
Payments Cash

Toby Wilson, the man, the myth, the guy that used to make coffee, has exchanged group heads for grill stations, leaving his gig as star barista at the St Peters branch of Sample Coffee to open a taco stand in Chinatown.

So Wilson has gone from Whitest Guy Alive in the inner west, to Whitest Guy Alive in Dixon Food Court, to become jefe de la plancha at Ghostboy Cantina. ("I'm merging from barista to taquero – I get bored easily.")

His latest project is a shoebox-sized food stall which you'll find next door to Pondok Selera​ Indo-Malaysian and just a few stalls up from Ramen o San – home of that excellent black garlic tonkotsu.

Taco topped with beef and a Mexican-Thai salad mash-up.
Taco topped with beef and a Mexican-Thai salad mash-up. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Cue this little cash-only Mexican-ish hole-in-the wall surrounded by a rich and varied world of Asian snacking, from lurid sweet-and-sour pork, gummy lemon chicken and mountains of special fried rice to properly excellent ramen and grills.

But you can't accuse Wilson of not at least semi-trying to blend in (emphasis here, then, on the massive sign that would look more in keeping with a Las Vegas truckstop taqueria than a Sydney Chinatown food court). His taco menu (which simply states "beef", "pork" and "cauli") translates as a fair bit more than that.

What looks like soft white corn tortilla, slightly blistered, is actually a Chinese pancake. It's topped with shredded beef, Thai basil, bean shoots and chilli sauce – it's a little like a Mexi-Thai beef salad (Thaixican?) only all wrapped up in a carb cocoon.

Pork and peach taco.
Pork and peach taco. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Pork gets a similar treatment to the beef – shredded roughly and cooked on the hotplate, only here, that pancake is topped with slices of fresh peach, Thai basil and two types of chilli sauce.

Golden fried cauliflower florets sit on an almost astringent green chilli sauce and creamy blobs of queso fresco. It's probably the least exciting of the choices on offer, but at least there's a legitimate vego taco on the menu that doesn't suck.

There's also a menu of sides, if you can't get enough of the Ghostboy vibes. The loosely labelled "salad" translates once again to that MexiThai mash up (and really, they're natural pals when you think about the flavour crossovers of pork, chilli, lime and coriander). Here, it's a shred-up of pickled carrot, cabbage, green papaya, Thai basil deep-fried shallot and coriander, dressed deftly on the citrus front.

Corn cobs rubbed with chipotle.
Corn cobs rubbed with chipotle. Photo: Daniel Munoz

And if all that hasn't stopped you in your tracks, there are buttered cobs of corn rubbed in chipotle, sprinkled with sesame and refreshed with a squeeze of lime.

Early days means slow queues for the Ghostboy, but it's not going to stay that way. Get in before the rest of Sydney does.

THE LOWDOWN
Pro tip
: This is good, cheap, quick fun - perfect pre-gig fodder.
Try this: The pork and peach taco is a flavour bomb, gift-wrapped in carbs.
Like this? Continue the taco party at El Loco, 64 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills, 02 9211 4945.

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