366 Avoca Drive Kincumber, NSW 2251
It feels a little odd arriving at an Avoca bar that is not on the beach and has nothing to do with the beach. No plastic umbrellas and surf boards on the walls. No fish and chips and sandy floors. Rojo Rocket is a Mexican playground hidden away in the green hills between Avoca Beach and Copacabana - something entirely different and utterly cool for a Central Coast seaside town. I wish it was in my own backyard.
LIKE THE AUTHENTIC BARS of Mexico's party-hard areas, Rojo Rocket has gone a little ballistic on the visuals. There's enough colour to make you dizzy. Nearly everything is turquoise, yellow or red - the walls, the cushioned day beds, the giant skulls, the scout hall chairs, the tablecloths, the traditional artworks on the walls, the smoking fountain out the front, the giant rocket perched in the garden. Even the restaurant/bar's website looks like a place fluoro goes to die.
One of the owners, Nigdali Reed, was born and raised in Mexico and, with her Australian-born husband, Adrian, had a desire to bring the real Mexican way of life to the Central Coast. The pair teamed up with Big Day Out founder Ken West and his partner, Cathy Rechichi, to create their Mexican utopia.
THE PLACE IS DIVIDED INTO TWO with a restaurant downstairs and a more casual outdoor bar up a small stone staircase. The bar absolutely rocks on weekend afternoons. If the sun is out, the Margaritas and Carta Blanca beers flow, a couple of rotund salsa DJs get on the decks and a chef sets up a taqueria cart among the palm trees to fry up crab rolls, quesadillas, lamb tacos or any other street food he fancies. Everyone is sitting down, though, which feels a bit weird considering there are jugs of Mojito and latino house music pumping - both of which go hand in hand with busting a move, in my mind.
THE TAQUERIA CART serves some great vendor food like plump, rich crab rolls ($10) and cheesy quesadillas with chorizo ($15). Downstairs offers a more refined menu of tapas, mains and tortillas. Dishes like fresh ceviche ($15) or scotch fillet with huitlacoche sauce, traditional sweet potato souffle and seasonal vegetables ($32) are a cut above the usual tacos and burritos but it's still about fun rather than mind-blowing, top-notch food.
THE SAME COULD BE SAID of the cocktails, which are simple and easy to drink rather than masterpieces. Margaritas are a staple - go for the shaken ($15) or the Millonario with Grand Marnier ($20) - and the Mojitos go down well too. There are plenty of classics such as Cuba Libre, Caipiroska, Bloody Maria, Charro Negro and jugs of fruity sangria.
Everyone seems to be ordering Banana Daiquiris ($16) but we find them dull and flavourless. Interestingly, the wine menu eschews South American drops for boutique Australian and Italian wines (with just five by the glass) but the beer choices are very much Mexican. If this is how the Mexicans do it, I'm ready to emigrate.
YOU'LL LOVE IT IF you're looking for a colourful, fun night out.
YOU'LL HATE IT IF you like quiet, hole-in-the-wall bars.
GO FOR taqueria cart food, shaken Margarita, sangria.
IT'LL COST YOU cocktails $9-$22, bottled beer $5.50-$8, wine by the glass $8-$12, tapas $12-$18.
Address 366 Avoca Drive, Avoca, 4382 2255 Open Wed-Fri, 6pm-midnight; Sat-Sun, noon-2.30pm, 6pm-midnight