When signs went up next door to a favourite neighborhood Italian eatery, I figured that someone was very enthusiastic about fixing cars, or there was indeed a fresh venue with all kinds of hipster connotations on its way. The gaudy street art was a genuine distraction on Glen Osmond Road for a good six months before anything eventuated.
After learning that the new one would replace the old one, I called into Osteria de Mesa for a last hurrah, ordered one of everything on the menu and said my farewells one delicious mouthful after another. Oh, that tiramisu.
Then Hispanic Mechanic opened and I eagerly booked in for a service. The interior ticks the boxes of industrial-chic, with a slight ode to a garage workshop.
White tiles replace old dark timber panels and brightly painted murals cover the walls. The images are a little crazy, but still tasteful. Tubed lighting resembling exhaust pipes feature in the main dining area and a raised screened off section breaks up the space.
Seated alfresco, we order drinks from a cocktail menu that includes the classic Mojito, frozen Margaritas and some less common names like Mas Viejo –a punchy combination of aged rum, lime and smashed pineapple.
A range of beer from across the globe is a refreshing change from the usual suspects and, of course, there is a weekly Sangria special. Drinks take a while, but the manic buzz of the place entertains while we wait.
We’re told that our meals will arrive as they’re ready; a great way to share in progressive succession. Chargrilled yellow corn brushed with chipotle and dry cheese is expectedly good, with a squeeze of lime giving a hit of acid to the sweetest of kernels.
Ceviche tostados are a unique permutation of chunks of lime-cured salmon atop crispy tortillas. It’s difficult to appreciate the usually tender fish in this dish as I bite through the crunch, but the flavour is right on with jalapeno adding heat and the perfect amount of fresh cilantro.
Tuna tartare is diced and mixed with cucumber avocado, tomato and coconut cream, the coriander in this dish is lighter, and with it comes another dash of lime. A set of tacos comes next, piled high with the freshest ingredients.
The smokey chicken taco has a subtle cumin flavour and is topped with a black bean salsa and chipotle slaw. The spice is noticeable, not too severe – though the same can’t be said for the verduras Y esquites pinto bean taco that certainly packs a punch.
‘Bird in a bowl’ is the star among dishes now balancing precariously all over our table. Stacking plates becomes part of this moving feast, as the collection of empties seems to be missed by wait staff. But back to that bird, so salacious and tender.
It’s kind of a salad, but not as we know it, with colossal pieces of chicken in a nest of leaves, pineapple, torn mint and, of course, more cilantro. More of that chipotle too, sweetened with honey vinaigrette.
Enchiladas de Verduras is decent in flavour but chaotic to eat, collapsing in a liquidy mess as we try to split portions as per the suggestion to share. A side of nachos has a significant amount of topping, though it goes almost untouched as the eyes to stomach ratio is breached.
Tres leche sponge cake with caramelised bananas will need to wait, too. I still need to find a match for that tiramisu.
205 Glen Osmond Road
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday (dinner): from 5.30pm, Sunday (lunch): from 12pm