Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mexican Restaurants in Sydney

So this one time in Florida, I was having a Cinco de Mayo party and I printed up these cute invitations that said, "Come Join Us for a Mexican Siesta!".  

Spanish lesson of the day:

Fiesta = party.
Siesta = nap.

And if you're in Australia inviting people to a Cinco de Mayo party, then don't worry, virtually no one down under speaks EspaƱol, so even if you've screwed up all your Spanish verbage on the invitations, they'll have no idea what you're saying, and they'll never have heard of Cinco de Mayo to begin with.  No worries mate. 

Have I mentioned that in eighth grade my friend Pedro taught me how to say lots of swear words in Spanish?  Very useful throughout the years.

Moving on...

If you're from Mexico, or California, or Texas then you probably will never be happy with the likes of Mexican restaurants in Australia-- or in other U.S. states for that matter.  But if you're in Australia, and jonesing desperately for burritos or tacos or guacamole-- I'm here to help you get your Mexi-fix.  But I must warn you...  the choices are limited and there's no chile rellenos, at least not that I've found.

So I've done the hard work (eating Mexican food all over Sydney), and I'm ready to share my brief reviews of the best Mexican restaurants in Sydney.

Listed in my personal favorite order:
  • Poco Cantina in Randwick.  Unfortunately for all of us, they have no website... but they do make up for it with their pulled beef chimichangas which are almost Texas quality (that's my baseline for comparison purposes; though I know that just doesn't cut it with Californians).   Their fajitas are very good.  The margaritas are the best I've had in Sydney.  And the waitstaff is very friendly, we usually have this young American waiter who is great.  It's kid friendly and casual.  And I like to drink many of their margaritas.  And their margaritas are good.  Is it margarita time yet?
  • Baja Cantina in Glebe.  We don't go to Baja Cantina as much as I'd like, simply because it's not as convenient as other restaurants for us.  But their food is really good, the American owner is very nice, and the restaurant is family-friendly, with a bonus of being located next to a most excellent chocolate shop.  
Baja Cantina Glebe

Baja Cantina Glebe

  • Beach Burrito Company at Bondi Beach.  A Chipolte-esque, hole in the wall style chain of quickie-Mex at the north side of Campbell Parade directly across from the beach.  Think super-beachy casual, bikinis and dreadlocks crowd letting it all hang out, sitting at tall, sometimes communal tables with barstools.  Burrito Beach Company has some most excellent frozen margaritas.  Just between you and I, the last time we did a takeaway order (that's Aussie for "takeout"), my husband smuggled a margarita out the door and got it home to me still frozen!  Woo-hoo!  He's a wild man.  And I'd recommend many of the items here-- but most specifically any of the items filled with "Green Chile Pig" or their chili.  The fish tempura burritos are pretty good too.  And the mango salsa is yum.  
  • Cafe Pacifico in Darlinghurst.   Cafe Pacifico was the first Mexican restaurant we found in Sydney, and was the only Mexican place we went to for about a year.  The food is very good, we usually ordered the fajitas and burritos.  The downside is that the service is not great, and the restaurant is extremely loud, as in let my 6 & 7 year old boys scream at the top of their lungs in the middle of the restaurant and no one will notice (literally).   It's pretty much a party place-- and you know how us old, oldtimers hate stuff that's too loud-- have I mentioned I'll turn 40 this year?  Additionally, the tortilla chips often seem too thick and/ or slightly stale. But don't get me wrong, I'd still go there when I'm in the mood for some pretty good Mexican food.
  • Mad Mex in Darlinghurst.  This is another Chipolte-style, quasi-fastfoody type place.  I like it.  Read Chipolte's menu and you'll be right at home at Mad Mex.  I would highly recommend it for a Mexi-quickie. 
So there you have it... I heart Mexican food and I will go to all kinds of lengths to find it in countries where no one has ever heard of a quesadilla... okay, that's an exaggeration, but not by much.



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      54 comments:

      ChiTown Girl said...

      Great! Now I'm dying for a margarita! Too bad it's actually past my bedtime :(

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Well it's only 3:40pm here-- that totally Margarita-time.

      formerly fun said...

      Living in CA, I have definitely been spoiled for Mexican elsewhere.

      Sydney Hotel Discounts said...

      Nice Blog, Thanks for sharing. I really really like it.

      Lisa said...

      Laura, have I mentioned I love you! After 10 years in California I have suffered the dearth of good Mexican restaurants in Sydney. Also buckets of margarita, with glasses bigger than your head (I only had two glasses, I can't imagine why I have a hangover...) I will be checking some of these out! I have enchildas in the oven right now, but alas, no margarita... Lisa J.

      Jen said...

      I looove mexican food too!! But i have only ever tasted the Australian variety and am wondering if you could explain why our mexican food is not like mexican food in the US??
      I live in Newcastle too, so unfortunatly i cannot use your most excellent list in the forseeable future. Thanks for sharing :D

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      FF- I know.. and you may not want to move to Sydney because of it.

      Hotels- Thanks.

      Lisa J- Are you the Lisa who is the mother of the girl my child still talks about wanting to marry?? If so, are you guys free next weekend-- he would just burst with excitement at the thought of seeing her!

      Jen- From what I understand, half the problem is that you cannot get the same ingredients here. But also there is such a small hispanic population-- and also, I think every type of food tastes pretty different when you eat it in various countries..?? I think?

      Lisa said...

      Ha, ha, yes, I am that Lisa J. We would love to catch up. It's funny, Jules was just looking through her pre-school portfolio and talking so fondly about her old friends on the weekend. They are so grown up now! Lisa J

      Mike said...

      Haven't been to Poco Cantina, but I've been to all the others (and have been disappointed). However, I would highly recommend checking out Agave in Surry Hills, that's my #1.

      steck said...

      I lived for some time in Houston, and had access to fabulous Tex-Mex. I haven't found a Mexican place in Sydney that can make, say, a chicken burrito with mole like you'd get at Chuy's in Houston.

      What do you think of Flying Fajita Sisters in Glebe? At least decent, I thought.

      By the way, the Sydney Expat American Meetup group is organizing an event on May 6 to celebrate some old Mexican victory over the French. I know, a day late, but the 6th is a Friday. It's at the City Hotel at Kent and King, and we're having catered Mexican stuff. Here's a link: http://www.meetup.com/sydney-expat-americans/events/16719697/. All welcome.

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Mike- A girlfriend of mine-- she's Mexican but been here 8 yrs. told me to go there-- but haven't yet. It is going straight to the top of my date night list.

      Steck- I've been to a Chuy's-- can't remember what city, wonder if that's a chain? And I'll check out the link for that Ameri-meetup!

      steck said...

      Chuy's is in Houston/Austin/Dallas/San Antonio and a few other cities in Texas and other southern states. You may remember that the Bush twins were arrested after presenting fake ID at the Austin Chuy's.

      You haven't tried Flying Fajita Sisters?

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Now I remember which restaurant this was-- Dallas-- went there a few times!

      Dean Montalto said...

      Laura, thank you so much for this info!!!! We were just the other day lamenting how much we were (thinking) we would miss good Mexican faire once we were living down under. It is one of our most favorite types of food. Makes me even more excited for the "big move" now!!!!! Yeay!!!!

      Brutalism said...

      I love the join us for a "Mexican siesta."

      My college roommate and I were once in charge of doing a write up following a Cinco de mayo party for our sorority newsletter. We titled the article "Donde estas my underpants?"

      We were relieved of our newsletter editing duties shortly thereafter.

      Brutalism said...

      I love the join us for a "Mexican siesta."

      My college roommate and I were once in charge of doing a write up following a Cinco de mayo party for our sorority newsletter. We titled the article "Donde estas my underpants?"

      We were relieved of our newsletter editing duties shortly thereafter.

      Jenny said...

      Ohh I miss Mexican food so much I now make my own homemade tortillas, salsa, guac, etc on a regular basis. I'm even bringing a tortilla press back with me from the US! I'll have to try some of your favourite restaurants. We like Mexico via Manly. It's good (but not really so Mexican IMO).

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Dean- I'm not sure I even thought of it before we moved here. But now we are always on the lookout for Mexican!

      Brutalism- Muy bonito underpants esta in la casa. I would have been fired too.

      Jenny- Hope you're getting a massive Mexi-fix while you're home!

      Sam31 said...

      I know what you mean by craving real mexican food! I've lived in South Florida (currently here in Sydney visiting parents until July) for 2 years and my husband has taken me to some really great mexican places there. Btw great blog, love reading about your adventures here!

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Sam31- Oh jealous!! I wonder what S. FL Mexican joints you've been to?! so jealous.

      Sam31 said...

      There's a really great one in West Palm on Okeechobee, right there by the 95 exit heading west. When you head back, you'll have to check it out!

      I'll be sure to check out the one in Randwick while I'm here. I lived in Randwick for 9 years and I've never tried it out.

      You should check out the USA Foods website in Melbourne. I usually order foods from there when I'm missing something!

      The Taskers said...

      OMG, Mexican food in Australia (or lack thereof). Obviously you have more Mexicans in Sydney than we do in Perth. I would say the Mexican population over here is, um, zero. My US family and I went to one "Mexican" restaurant here when they were visiting - one my BIL told me was good - and we were like "what is this red sauce that is drenching the fajita meat. It was feral. I don't even think they had margaritas on the menu - I kid you not!

      To answer your question, Jen, in Perth "Mexican" is like this: you take a soft tortilla (pronounced "tor-TEE-ya", not "tor-TILL-ah") and put some sort of meat in it. Then add beans and call it a burrito. Or add melted cheese on top and call it an enchilada. Or do something really strange with red sauce and call it a fajita, etc, etc.

      So besides the Barrio in Milwaukee where its the ONLY place to get Mexican food in WI, I, too, have been spoilt by Houston (shout-out Speck) - Chuys, oh my gosh. Lupe Tortillas - died and gone to heaven! I asked my hubby to smuggle Lupe's back in January (yeah, he didn't). So I have also made Tuesday Taco night a regular feature in our house (as well as another night a week). Bring all my spices and such, whatever stays for a long time and can get past customs, back and Mex it up in my home.

      Speaking of get togethers - I'll probably be coming to Sydney in July (around the 10th) and would love to meet you in person! I also want to meet Natalie, if you still keep in touch with her. Maybe she can be our DD and we can down some margaritas together....

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Sam31- I've looked at USA Foods before but I end up finding a lot of stuff at David Jones and I also order stuff on Amazon (with Prime membership "free shipping" to my house in Florida) and then my mom ships it here. You'll have to let me know how you like Poco Cantina.

      Taskers- Yes, I'd love to meet you. Natalie now lives in Melbourne so that won't happen for us all to get together. And have you heard Aussies say "paella"-- totally hilarious, especially when it's the teacher of a cooking class at Sydney Fish Market. still cracks me up...

      Francine said...

      Thanks so much for the list! We miss Tex-Mex and I truly appreciate your respect for good Mex and Tex-Mex. I'm pretty sure Chuy's is an Austin tradition that migrated to those other Texas cities. It is authentic, old-fashioned Tex-Mex plus a bit of the Keep Austin Weird character. I prefer Trudy's, but would take Chuy's in Sydney. I really miss homemade blue corn tortillas....
      I'm salivating just thinking about it.

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Francine- No prob, I enjoyed all of my research for this. And it's been so long that I cannot even remember the names of my favorite Mexican restaurants in the US. That is pitiful.

      Anonymous said...

      Just thought I'd let you know, 8 packs of Reese's peanut butter cups or boxes of Toast 'Ems are being sold for 3 bucks at the Reject Shop!

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Anonymous- I'm a little scared of The Reject Shop, especially buying food items there-- mainly because it's called The Reject Shop. Why are these things rejects? Or is it kind of like Hot Dollar, but nothing actually costs a dollar??

      C. In Oz said...

      Ummm, yes please, I will be trying out every one of these places. Especially the one with the margaritas. Do you think they're open at 11p.m. on a Tuesday? Sure seems like Margarita time right now ... but then, it pretty much always seems like Margarita time to me.

      Chantelle {fat mum slim} said...

      We're heading to Florida tomorrow. I should have asked for tips!

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      C in Oz- 11pm is most definitely margarita time!

      Chantelle- If you tell what area you're going to be in I may be able to give you some recommendations-- not just for mexican food... have a great trip!

      South Beach Mom said...

      There you go....next time you come home for a visit, "Mexican Fiesta Soiree!! BTW,we both share big birthdays this year too!!
      xoxoxoxo

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      South Beach Mama- I am so looking forward to some mexican food with you! Not so much to the big bdays though! I think I need to plan a visit! xoxox

      Pontiac Air Conditioner Compressor said...

      I have read a few good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you put to create such a fantastic informative site.

      Natasha said...

      Wow! Just found your blog after a totally testing and exhausting day with my two kids (4 and 2 years). My husband has been on the search for a fab Mexican restaurant since he had a great holiday there in 1998 before we met (yes, forever ago). Can't wait to sit down and go through your previous posts and look forward to your new posts. I'm an Inner West girl so my tip for great pizza in Haberfield (Sydney's true Italian capital) is La Disfida (no connection to me other than just loving their pizzas because they are so authentic).

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Pontiac- Thanks!

      Natasha- Thanks for your note, I also am recovering from a challenging day with my kids... so glad they are in bed! Anyway-- I am so confused-- I thought Leichardt was the Italian spot in Sydney? Need more info on this! Cheers mate!

      Sharon said...

      Stumbled on your blog through Opal Hearted Country. Im a Florida girl in Sydney now too and have enjoyed your posts!

      Jayson James said...

      From the way you described each dish, it seems that they're pretty delicious. I just wish there were more photos shared on this blog. But a tease wouldn't really hurt that much.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Sharon- Thanks and cool to see another Floridian down unda!

      Jayson- And the sad thing is that I have photos of some of our Mexi-experiences here, but they are somewhere amongst 14,000 photos on an external hard drive, so I decided they weren't important enough to search for.

      Fantasticated Pony said...

      I am going to have check out your recommendations. I love Mexican food and don't eat it enough. Margaritas on the other hand...ps your blog is awesome!
      Caitlin
      Dealies

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Fantasticated Pony- I have no idea what that name means, but I absolutely love it. Margarita time?

      Catherine said...

      We made the mistake of ordering "tacos" in Brisbane. They were made of a tortilla with mince and sloppy joe sauce....YUCK!

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Catherine- That sounds absolutely disgusting, though I did see on the news that there is supposedly a great Mexican restaurant there-- I guess I'll hope this wasn't it!

      Tar Heels in Sydney said...

      Thanks for this list! We moved to Sydney 3 months ago from N.C. and our homesick tastebuds have been craving Mexican food at a ridicuous level. Can't wait to try some of these. We like Bench in Rialto Square in Manly. They have good fajitas in the evening, are generous with the "salads",and kids eat free Mon-Sat!

      stephfw said...

      I am so excited to try these places out! This is a heck of a lot better than googling or guide books. Thanks!

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Tar Heels- I think we'll be going out to Manly in the next couple of weeks-- have to see if we can find that place!

      Steph- Thanks and hope you're pet commute will be over soon!

      sam said...

      Nice post, thanks for sharing this wonderful and useful information with us.
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      Anonymous said...

      The Newest Addition To Mexican ( more Authentic) than most of the others is MEXICANO at North Narrabeen on the northern beaches, they have amazing Margaritas and Fish Tacos that are on my mind as i talk about them. I compare them to Mamasita in Melbourne.
      Both Great restaurants and a must if your after the real deal.

      Americano in Oz said...

      Thanks for this great list! I'm still a newbie Sydney, and I just was in Glebe recently at that same San Churro you've mentioned- That was delicious! Next time I'm in that part of the city, I'll be sure to visit the Baja Cantina. Great blog too, by the way! I came across it from one of your forum comments on Yanks Down Under. Looking forward to reading more of what you've shared here :-)

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Hi Americano in Oz- Nice to meet you... Keep me updated on any Mexican restaurant discoveries!

      Fuschia and Teal said...

      this is a good list! my husband and I are moving to Sydney at the end of the year. I'm Aussie and he is a Californian (half mexican!). He will miss the food here greatly!

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Fuschia & Teal- That is really exciting, and I'd recommend shipping over in advance any of your favorite Mexican cooking ingredients, because it just is not the same stuff here! Good luck with your move!!

      Tom said...

      Have you been to Barrio Chino on Bayswater Rd in Kings Cross? They've partnered with a San Francisco based restaurant....it's far and away the best Mexican food I've had in Sydney in all the years I've lived here....Margarita's as well are fantastic!

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      Mark Benson said...
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