Hot Lips Ha­cienda

Gluten-free Mex­i­can street food and a killer te­quila and mez­cal se­lec­tion? Pucker up

Time Out (Melbourne) - - FOOD & DRINK -

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.hotlip­sha­ Tue-thu 5-11pm; Fri, Sat 5pm-1am; Sun 1pm-1am.

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