Hot Lips Hacienda
Gluten-free Mexican street food and a killer tequila and mezcal selection? Pucker up
A MULTI- COLOURED PONCHO hanging on the wall inside the former newsagency is the only hint that this is a Mexican restaurant. You’re looking at a menu of traditional street food care of ex-la Tortilleria chef Sachiko Makihara. Nixtamal tortillas also come from La Tortilleria, where they are freshly baked in proper stonemill ovens. Whet your appetite with chilaquiles negros, which are bona fide nachos, not your Tex-mex guacsalsa-shredded cheese affair. Corn chips are dressed with a black bean salsa, Mexican crema (a liquidy sour cream), fresh radish and jalapeños. It delivers crunch, tang, and spice – the trifecta of Mexican cuisine. The classic late-night snack elotes callejeros is a juicy, barbecued corn on the cob jazzed up with crema, chipotle chilli for that distinct smoky flavour, and queso fresco. Tostaditas are bite-sized flavour bombs loaded with meats (there’s one veg option), salsas, onion and spices. Everything is designed to share but portions are quite small, and after a few rounds of tacos and Margaritas you’ll crack $100, easy. To cater for those with big appetites they have a larger daily dish: maybe it’s a whole butterfly chicken with rice and beans, a chocolate mole soup or the famous sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup). The flavours are supposed to conjure the street eats of Mexico but they could afford to ratchet up the chilli. Douse your food in La Meridiana habanero hot sauce, or the citrusy, vinegary Valentina salsa. On the plus side, the entire menu is gluten-free. You’ll come for the food, but you’ll stay for the bar. They’re pouring 30 different types of mezcals and tequilas each. They’re even adding them to dessert: the churros come with a lip-smacking tequila-and-chilli-infused sauce.
Victoria Khroundina 2 Railway Pde, Highett 3190. www.hotlipshacienda.com.au. Tue-thu 5-11pm; Fri, Sat 5pm-1am; Sun 1pm-1am.