It’s no secret that Adelaide has increased its number of Mexican food offerings in recent years — from the award-winning Mexican Society on Gouger Street to Salisbury’s highly authentic Taco Quetzalcoatl — but how good is our Mexican fare?
With an increasing number of Mexicans currently calling Adelaide home, bringing with them their well-seasoned palate for tacos, tamales, nachos, pozole, and the like; this month we investigate the critical question: Overall, how well does Adelaide do Mexican food? And, how could the offerings continue to improve? In search of answers, The Adelaide Review speaks with a sample of Adelaide-based Mexicans.
“I have found that small businesses owned/managed by Mexicans are the best places to find Mexican food,” says IT analyst Isaías Hernández, who hails from Texcoco in the state of Mexico.
For Hernández, the recently expanded Taco Quetzalcoatl is among the best, with chef Margarita Galindo Gallardo’s tamales a particular favourite. UX designer Edgar Anzaldúa, from Mexico City, favours La Popular Taqueria in Port Adelaide. “The owners really work to provide an authentic journey into what actual Mexican cuisine is,” he says. “They give you a description and a brief history of the plate!” Anzaldúa also rates the rosca de reyes (“king’s ring”, traditionally baked in January to mark the Feast of the Epiphany) from Salon Chihuahua.
Fellow chilango [a person from Mexico City] Pablo Gonzalez, a data analyst with social impact consultancy Nova Smart Solutions, says he has heard good things on the Mexican-in-Adelaide grapevine about La Popular.
“My personal favourite in the CBD is Revolución Mexicana in the Market restaurants in Adelaide Arcade,” he says. Revolución Mexicana has also attracted the attention of Adelaide celebrity Quentin Kenihan, whose endorsement graces the restaurant’s website.
“The food is amazing and very authentic,” Kenihan writes.“The soft tacos are amazing. The burritos are so good. I’ve had the chicken, beef and pulled pork. They are all good but I keep going back to the pulled pork. It’s really good.”
Should tacos and burritos be the centrepiece of ‘Adelaide Mexican’?
Hernandez believes our town can bemore adventurous. “I don’t think Mexican food should be exclusive to Mexican chefs,” he says. Hernandez goes on to say that must be mindful of “the local market” and their tastes “they’re missing some courage to explore and sell a greater variety of Mexican food”. As Hernandez points out, Mexican cuisine is highly varied across the country, which comprises 31 states as well as the federal district of Mexico City. He gives us some examples of dishes that local chefs might try: Caldo tlalpeño: a spicy chicken soup originating in Tlalpan, a district of Mexico City
Chiles en nogada: a dish traditionally served to celebrate Independence, consisting of stuffed poblano chile with a walnut-based cream sauce Bacalao a la vizcaína: a Basque dish of codfish that arrived with the Spanish and is now a Christmastime favourite across Mexico
Pollo estilo Sinaloa: a special chicken dish from the northern state of Sinaloa
Aguachile: a shrimp-based dish that combines the classic flavours of chili peppers, lime juice, salt, cilantro, and onion
Chongos zamoranos: a dessert made from curdled milk that originates in the city of Zamora in the state of Michoacan
Having said that, Hernandez suggests that “some dishes would be a bit challenging to make here – the ingredients could be harder to get” from Mexico to Australia. Indeed, it’s only recently that Australians have had access to a greater variety of chillies, such as poblano and chipotle chillies; not to mention the greater availability of masa, the corn flour used to make corn-based tortillas, and tomatillos, the green tomato-like vegetable that is the main ingredient in salsa verde.
So if you haven’t heard of these dishes and would like to try them — perhaps it’s time to look into importing?
28/18 Amanda St, Salisbury
La Popular Taqueria
226 St Vincent St, Port Adelaide
Market Arcade, Adelaide
Header photo: Jonathan Van der Knaap