From hunger-crushing burritos to intimate gourmet dinners or a quick taco on the run, Melbourne is in the midst of a Mexican food explosion…
Blue Corn – St Kilda
Operating since 2001, Blue Corn has become a mainstay of Melbourne’s Mexican food wave. Its fresh cooked menu is a clear cut above standard Mexican fare. The outdoor dining option in the large sunny backyard is a must for a summer afternoon in downtown St Kilda, along with a great selection of over 100 tequilas, a variety of cocktails and 13 different Mexican beers.
Food wise, the goats cheese quesadilla is a clear highlight with sesame grilled eggplant, tomato rice and salad. But the peanut chicken fajitas with tomato rice flour tortillas, guacamole and sour cream are also worth a shot, among a diverse menu that includes ocean trout, chilli beef and vegan options. Look out for the subtle Día de los Muertos folk art décor.
Blue Corn is located at 205 Barkly Street, St Kilda. Prices average around $30 for a meal and entrée.
La Tortilleria – Kensington
Tucked away in a back street in Kensington, La Tortilleria is worth the effort required to track it down. In contrast to the fast food style of many Mexican joints, La Tortilleria make the tortillas in-house using home ground nixtanal fresh corn. The food has a refreshingly clean, home cooked, authentic flavour. La Tortilleria oozes charm, packed with quirky nooks and corners making the dining experience a delight.
The simple menu offers standard fare chicken tastadas, tamale, quesadillas, tacos and soups. But the quality is what sets it apart, along with the intimate and friendly attitude of staff. La Tortilleria is Mexican owned and run, and that aspect comes through in the flavour of the dishes.
La Tortilleria is located at 72 Stubbs Street, Kensington. Prices range from $4.50 for tacos to $40 for a mixed plate for two people.
Trippy Taco – Fitzroy
Trippy Taco started off as a food van serving delicious vegetarian Mexican treats to drug addled ravers at outdoor dance parties, before setting up shop in the boho-grunge digs of downtown Collingwood. Almost a victim of its own success, Trippy Taco has today become a mainstay of Melbourne’s urban boho set. The food is delicious and cheap. It’s essentially refried black beans stuffed into tacos and quesadillas with guacamole, cheese, salad and tofu served in various combinations.
Aside from these staples the “trippy fries” are moreish with a unique spicy salt, the nachos make for a good complement to a main meal, and the Mexican beers and cocktails on offer help to wash it all down without asking too many questions. The best thing about it is the inner city, hipster vibe.
Trippy Taco is located at 234 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. Priced under $20.
Bay City Burrito – St Kilda
This is one of Melbourne’s newest Mexican inspired arrivals, conveniently located opposite Luna Park. Bay City Burrito is a welcome addition showing Melbourne how great Cali-Mex burritos can be, while keeping the price down.
The burritos they serve are a purely US invention: snugly packed together in tinfoil containing everything from pork, cheese, black beans, spanish rice and mild salsa (Bay City Special) to cos lettuce, guacamole, pico de gallo, black beans, brown rice and mild salsa (Californian). They’re so dense you will struggle to finish them. Bay City Burrito also serve tacos, quesadilla, salads and specialty meals; but the burritos and ice-cold Mexican beers are the main attraction.
Bay City Burrito is located at 4-7 Shakespeare Grove, St Kilda. Burritos $11.50, meals between $10-16.
Taco Truck – various locations
There is an irony in the old fashioned food van suddenly becoming such a trending movement, considering variations of the food truck date back to the 19th century in the US. Nonetheless the Taco Truck is worth tracking down if you’re after a quick bite on the run.
Taco Truck parks itself in various locations between Melbourne’s northern and southern suburbs, advertising its movements on social media, and serving up a selection of fish, chicken, beef, prawn and vegetarian tacos to hungry bystanders. More of a snack-sized in-between meal than a really filling dinner, your best bet is the $15 tasting plate that can be made to order.
Various locations around Melbourne. Priced $8-15. To find the taco van, head to their homepage.