Archives For Northern Beaches

Hugos, Manly

February 26, 2013 — 4 Comments

Should it be “Hugo’s” restaurant? Or is it about a bunch of people called Hugo?

Well despite the grammar complexity Hugos at Manly is worth a visit.

Hugos - Manly wharf

Hugos is on Manly Wharf, with views across to the harbour-side beach, looking towards the west.

Hugos - harbour beach

And then looking to the south, you can watch the ferries arrive from the city.

Hugos - restaurant view

Hugos - view

What a setting for a meal!  The breezes blow through the open windows beautifully.

Perfect place for sipping cocktails and whiling away the time.  This one’s made with gin, apple liquor, lemon, mint and cucumber.

Hugos - cocktail

Refreshing for a warm summer’s day.  Then the pizza arrives.  The wild mushroom one, with taleggio, goat’s curd and caramelised onions.

Hugos - mushroom

Lovely, rich-tasting mushrooms.

On another day we shared an artichoke pizza, with pancetta, chicory, taleggio, chilli and lemon.

Hugos - artichoke

Also a good pizza.  And here’s another pizza we shared.  The puttanesca, with anchovies, capers, olives, tomato, oregano, and a hint of chilli.

Hugos - anchovies

As you can see, the pizzas at Hugos are very good.  The crust is crispy and fine, just enough to hold the topping and balance out the flavours.

Watching the meals arrive at other tables, all of the food there looks good, Italian-styled food.  Some dishes I’d like to try include:

  • The tasting plate: four natural oysters, fried calamari, fig salad & Italian meatballs
  • Crispy skin barramundi with grilled eggplant, roasted beetroot, saffron fennel and a caviar dressing
  • Or other pizzas such as:
    • Fig ‐ fresh figs, pancetta, gorgonzola, tomato and basil
    • Chorizo ‐ chorizo sausage, olives, chilli, smoked mozzarella, Spanish onions and rouille dressing

Hugos - lunch view

The ferry to / from Manly has spectacular views.  I hope people who regularly commute don’t take it for granted.

Hugos - ferry

That’s the view of Hugos from the ferry.

On both of the recent visits here it was during the day and during the week, much quieter than I hear it is sometimes.  I can imagine it buzzing and totally full in the evenings and on weekends.

Perfect place for some wine or cocktails, with good food, overlooking the Harbour.


Here are the details about Hugos, Manly, at time of posting. Please check their web site for more current details.

Web site / Facebook
Address Shop 1, Manly Wharf, East Esplanade, Manly, NSW 2011
Phone 02 8116 8555
Open 7 days a week, 12pm until late
Menu Starters: $18-28
Mains: $30-40
Pizza: $20-28
Sides: $10
Hugos Manly on Urbanspoon


Where’s your favourite place to eat with a view?

Mexicano, North Narrabeen

February 22, 2013 — 4 Comments

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:

Mexicano - bottle

The food at Mexicano is designed to be shared. Think of it as Mexican tapas.

Here’s what we ordered:

Street Snacks

Chicken Winglets: salt-brined, crisp fried, agave syrup and nuts:
Mexicano - chicken

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.

Shared Plates

Pickled Beetroot Salad: goats cheese, candied walnuts, lime dressing, micro herbs:
Mexicano - beetroot salad
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:
Mexicano - prawn cerviche
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:
Mexicano - chimichangas
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 - beef tacos
Very good.

Mexicano Fish Tacos: battered local fish, chipotle mayo, cabbage slaw and mango:
Mexicano - fish tacos
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:
Mexicano - ice cream sandwich
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:
Mexicano - chocolate truffles
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.

Final Thoughts

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
Address Shop 2, 209-211 Ocean Street, Narrabeen, NSW 2101
Phone (02) 9970 8975
Open Two sittings for dinner:
6-8pm, 8pm-11pm
Reservations are essential
Menu Street Snacks: about $6
Shared Plates: $4-$13
Tacos: $13-$16
See the menu on the Mexicano web site for details.
Mexicano on Urbanspoon


Where do you go for good Mexican food?