Hey everyone! Since my coffee post was so popular, we thought we’d do a post on food in Melbourne, but because the city has such a vast and incredible selection of different food from around the world, it would be unfair to class all the varieties into one condensed post. So, we figured it would be best to do a series on each type of cuisine! Seriously, any country you can think of, it’s here: Sri Lankan, Greek, Malaysian, Argentinian, Ethiopian – everything, guys. We’re slowly but surely trying out all the different restaurants here in town, and thoroughly enjoying it ;-)
One of the types I wanted to focus on for this post is Latin American, Spanish & Mexican food, as it was one of the first types of food we were craving. We are big Latin American food fans — everything from Mexican to Cuban (our favorite) to authentic Spanish food (mmm, paella). We have tried a few around the Melbourne here, and below are our experiences with each (and of course, I will be updating these as we try more!)
- Simply Spanish: We stumbled upon Simply Spanish while at the South Melbourne Market, where there were several food stands set up. Our eyes immediately latched onto the HUGE pans of paella, and we took a box to go. It was a fairly good price for a takeaway box – about $12/13 – and Will and I were both able to eat from it. It was loaded with all different types of seafood – my favorite being the mussels – and was absolutely delicious. We haven’t been to one of their actual restaurants (they have three throughout the city), but we hope to at some point. I’ve been dreaming of that paella for several months now…
- Popol Nah: This is a Latin American restaurant on Lygon Street (which is funny because it was our first time on Lygon Street, which is known as the Little Italy of Melbourne, and we had LA food!), which serves many different dishes, from Argentinian meatballs to empanadas (my favorite) to tacos. They had southern fried chicken tacos which was super, super good — I wasn’t a huge fan of the tortillas though. We also tried some drinks there – a lemon/lime/chia seed drink and a Jamaican hibiscus punch – both delicious. The decor totally stole my heart — it had a rustic/industrial feeling to it (I’m going through a phase here) and, overall, really enjoyed the food and service was good.
- Mad Mex: This is more of a takeaway restaurant, similar to Chipotle (I miss it so much, you have NO idea). It’s just a block away from us, and we decided to give it a go. It’s actually good! They do the same style as Chipotle, in that they dish on whatever you choose, and offer quesadillas, soft tacos, hard shell tacos, burritos, etc. They also have Jarritos sodas there, which is one of my favorite things, as we used to have it back home at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. Overall, not too bad of a place to eat, staff are very friendly, but probably not going to frequent as much as I used to with Chipotle (which was every week… no seriously…).
- Fonda: This place is awesome! We went to Fonda yesterday, and it tucked away on a quiet block of Flinders Lane, so I honestly never would have seen it had we not been looking for it. As soon as I stepped in, I immediately recognized it from a Design Milk article I read a few months back. The colors, layout and retro feel of the place is so inviting, that it made us forget about the gloomy weather outside! The food is quite expensive, but unlike some restaurants in Melbourne, you actually get your money’s worth. Our quesadillas were about $15 each, but a pretty big portion, and we also had an appetizer of chipotle chips which were AMAZING, and only $8. Trust me – if you order just those items, you’ll be full until way past dinner time. We also ordered one of their agua frescas, and it was flavored with pineapple, mint and ginger – extremely refreshing. They also had Jarritos soda, yumm! I’ll definitely be returning, as the service, ease of payment (card, cash, being able to split the bill), and the food were all really impressive. [see main image above]
- El Coco: I’m kicking myself for not getting any photos of the food, but here’s a photo below of the decor of the restaurant. It’s a pop-up bar on King Street, whose food is actually made by the staff of Hammer & Tong. I was shocked to see that they didn’t have any traditional Cuban dishes (yuca fries, Cuban sandwich, plantains, mojo sauce). But alas, their food was still delicious. I ordered the soft shell crab tacos, while Will had the el pollo burger; we also ordered (for the table) their potato waffle fries with chipotle sour cream & chargrilled corn on the cob. It was definitely very tasty, and we both enjoyed our mains. They were a bit skimpy on the sauce for the fries though, but was good nonetheless! I’d probably return to get the tacos again and maybe a piña colada.
- Touche Hombre: I had been wanting to try TH for a while, and I wasn’t disappointed. The food and portions were reasonable, and their mocktails were delicious! I had their raspberry cooler, which was pineapple and lime juice, with raspberries and soda. I’d probably just return for that, ha! You pay per taco at TH, and usually about 3 tacos fill you up. They used the same type of tortillas as Popol Nah, which wasn’t pleasant, so I didn’t enjoy that part, but the fillings were amazing (I had pulled pork and chicken). Their chargilled corn was really, really food, and my friend, Rachel, ordered the taquitos, which were spicy but really tasty.
- La Cantina: Tucked away at Queen Victoria Market, I stumbled upon La Cantina with Rachel on my birthday. I was really excited to have Mexican food, so we ordered a burrito and quesadilla, and they also sell Inca Kola — HELLO! I love Inca Kola (can you tell I’m a fanatic when it comes to Latin American sodas??). The portion was really large, the staff was really nice, and the decor was rustic — which I swooned over. The music was just blasting so loudly, which took away from the experience a bit, but I’d definitely return for another quesadilla.
Melbourne had a Mexican festival here a few months ago, where every Mexican and LA restaurant in town came to showcase their foods, desserts and drinks. Margaritas, churros and burritos galore, I tell you! It was PACKED with thousands upon thousands of people waiting to get their hands on some yummy food, and it was worth it at times to just wait it out and grab something small from each place. My favorite, in particular, were the churros from Mad Mex.
I think we came here with very high expectations, as we’ve been spoiled rotten with good Mexican food back in the States. Considering the distance between here and Mexico, Central & South America (the biggest ocean in the world, no big deal), it would make sense why its influence hasn’t quite taken over Melbs just yet. However, from what we’ve had so far, it’s been a fun and tasty experience! We have a few more places in mind we’d like to try, so again, watch this space for updates!
Have any yummy Mexican, LA or Spanish spots to recommend to us around Melbourne? Leave them in the comments! We’re always looking for new spots to try out :-)