The best Mexican food I’ve had in a long time. While I lived in the US I enjoyed a variety of Mexican food. Some of it was stodgy, solid, fried meals with refried beans and rice and mountains of cheese, which were good if that’s what you survived on, because you could get a meal to fill the stomach for not many dollars. That was from hole-in-the-wall-type places or el cheapo “restaurants”. And then if you wanted Mexican food which was lighter and fresher there were fewer of those. One chain, Baja Fresh, had particularly good, fresh food and was still inexpensive.
Now jump forward a few years from then until last night. I had the pleasure of trying a new place with some friends, going to Mexicano in North Narrabeen. Now I know the area quite well, and had even been past the restaurant a few weeks back, but as there is no street signage, and the restaurant is only open in the evening it was closed up during the day.
Mexicano is in a tiny shop, cramming as may people as possible into a small space, so it’s not quiet, but has a vibrant atmosphere.
The restaurant has two dinner sittings: the first from 6 to 8pm, and then the second from 8pm to 11pm. It was the second sitting that I was there, and there was mood-lighting, and I didn’t have my good camera with me, so the photos that follow are very poor in quality, but I’ve decided to include them anyway because at least they might get a feel for the food, and it would allow me to wax lyrical about it until I can get back when there’s better light for better photos to more accurately reflect the colours!
The tables are varying heights. Not quite sure why they did that. The decor is funky, with skulls matching their logo, and fun elements, and huge bowls of flowers. I was pouring water into a glass, and discovered this at the bottom of the bottle:
The food at Mexicano is designed to be shared. Think of it as Mexican tapas.
Here’s what we ordered:
Chicken Winglets: salt-brined, crisp fried, agave syrup and nuts:
These were tiny, tasty winglets, with that beautiful agave syrup with spices, and sprinkles of pieces of pistachios, pepitas and peanuts. A good start to the meal.
Other Street Snack choices include grilled corn (which looked luscious, so must try next time), guacamole with corn chips, and chipotle beef tostaditas.
Everything is made on site, so the corn chips and tortillas and tostadas are all special.
Pickled Beetroot Salad: goats cheese, candied walnuts, lime dressing, micro herbs:
Nothing novel here, having had this many times elsewhere, but it was light and refreshing and enjoyed it.
Spencer Gulf Prawn Cerviche: marinated lime prawns, chilli, avocado – clamato jelly and tostadas:
Oh this was so good. The prawns were tender, and there was a wonderful balance of flavours with the lime, just enough chilli, and so on. It was at this point that I thought that I’d come back to Mexicano just to have that dish again.
Beef Chimichangas: shredded beef, cucumber, and sweet vinegar salsa:
The chimichangas I’m used to eating are huge and dinner-plate-sized, but these were the snack version: shredded, tender beef, wrapped in crisp pastry, tied with string, served with the vinegar salsa. Delicious.
Other Shared Plates include Grilled Rodriguez Chorizo and Empanadas Sofrito.
These were soft tacos, made with fresh, small, tortillas hand-made daily with wheat and corn masa flours.
Chipotle Beef Brisket Tacos: chipotle sauce, grilled onion, salsa mexicana:
Mexicano Fish Tacos: battered local fish, chipotle mayo, cabbage slaw and mango:
Now the fish taco was the best I’ve had anywhere. It had small pieces of fish in a light batter which had some crunch, with a very fine slaw for more texture and a dash of sweetness, and a slightly spicy mayo.
There are other tacos, such as a Pork Should Yucatan-Style one, and quesadillas, such as a triple cheese one.
Even though there was chilli in a number of dishes, it wasn’t too hot, just adding to the layers of flavours.
Ice Cream Sandwich: coconut florentine-honeycomb-white chocolate:
This was topped with a fine layer of white chocolate. The ice cream was vanilla. The crust: wow! It is described as being coconut florentine, but was so much finer than a regular florentine. It had crunches of honeycomb throughout the base, too. A wonderful combination of tastes and textures.
Hand-made Chocolate Truffles: Ancho chilli and cinnamon flavour:
The grand finale for us were the chocolate truffles. As truffles do, they just melted in your mouth, with rich chocolate, but also a perfect combination of chilli and cinnamon, not too hot, but rich.
Other dessert choices include a Baked Custard Crema or Pear and Cinnamon Custard Fritters.
Just as with yum cha or tapas, little by little, over a series of dishes this was a satisfying meal. Not just in filling the tummy, but with the variety of tastes and textures. Because all of the ingredients, including the herbs, were fresh, we left feeling clean, that the food was healthy. We looked forward to returning and working through the menu.
Here are the details about Mexicano, at time of posting. Please check their web site for more current details.
|Web site / Facebook||http://www.mexicano.com.au/
|Address||Shop 2, 209-211 Ocean Street, Narrabeen, NSW 2101|
|Phone||(02) 9970 8975|
|Open||Two sittings for dinner:
Reservations are essential
|Menu||Street Snacks: about $6
Shared Plates: $4-$13
See the menu on the Mexicano web site for details.
Where do you go for good Mexican food?
LOVED one of your recommendations – looking forward to trying this one out too!
Oh good, Suzanne! JP found this place; she really keeps her eyes peeled! While it would be OK to visit as a couple, I think it’s better with more people so you can try more dishes. Many of the dishes come in serves of 3. I can’t wait to get back there.
It all looks good but it’s a shame for me as Narrabeen is a bit of a schlepp for me seeing I’d need to catch a bus there. Who knows, maybe I’ll get there sometime.
Maybe on a weekend, when you’ve got more time for travel, it would be worth it. So many places to try…