Los Latinos


More recent review here.

128 Mitchell St, Maidstone. Phone: 9318 5289

Bugger it – I hate getting beat by The Age, especially by just a day or so.

But that’s just the way it worked out.

The end of a rugged week of work and school, a Friday full of crap weather, the run home from Sunshine, after-school care and a white-knuckle drive to and from Geelong.

Approaching Ashley St, we pondered our options – home, Cartoon Network and A-League with Chinese delivered; home and then out again to eat (not really an option at given the weather); and then – inspiration! – why, heck, a slight detour and … we could check out the new Latino place we’d heard about.

And failing that, we could opt for the funky Chinese place in Mitchell St that had long been on our “to do” list.

Pulling up outside Los Latinos, we appraised once again the retail strip we had last checked out very early in the year.

The Chinese place was still there, looking just as enigmatic as ever.

So, too, was the Latin American bakery where we’d had empanadas and coffee.

As well, there a cool-looking antique/odds’n’sods shop that seemed well worth a look – on another day.

And right there in the middle was Los Latinos – even early in the evening open and inviting.

Nina Rousseau nailed it good – Los Latinos is, indeed, “a grand addition to the west”.

We left an hour later rete, replete and smiling after a meal of lip-smacking joy.

The menu is not long, but we opted for the dips and corn chips ($6), followed by a serve of pupusas ($10), not wanting to put to big a dent in our wallet.

And then we wrecked that plan by ordering a $3.50 bottle Jarritos guava fizz from Mexico. Oh well …

The corn chips were good and blessedly free of excess salt and ghastly chemicals. The dips – cheese, guacamole and what was described on the menu as “green tomatillo” but was actually, unmistakably red  – looked a touch on the meager side. But they went the distance just fine, and all were tasty.

Despite some familiarity with South and Latin American food, we were unfamiliar with pupusas. They are, it was explained, a righteously popular and ubiquitous staple of El Salvador. The same flour as used in tortilla is made into a dough, then small balls. Into a hole in each ball is inserted the filling – in our case, a combo of cheese, beans and pork. The pupusas are then gently flattened and pan fried.

The results were mucho delicious, amply filling yet light as well. They were served with a tiny jug of salsa and curtido, which turned out to be a spicy, tangy, pickled salad of cabbage and more (I suspect).

At $10 for a serve of four, these constitute a superb and cheap meal for one. But as we were sharing, we were still a little light on.

So we ordered another entree – chorizo and salsa ($6). It was another winner, though we could have used about double the number of small, if very fine, tortillas that were provided to mop up the hot salsa.

One thing this dish did do for me, however, is confirm that my ingrained habit of merely grabbing any old chorizo from the supermarket has got to go. This one had quite distinctive and oh-so-tasty seasoning and flavour. Not all chorizos are created equal, it seems.

The menu also features fajitas ($18.50), tacos ($10.50), tamales ($10), porcion de pollo (fried chicken with onions, coriander and lemon juice, served with rice and tortilla; $12.50), as well as the completo (Latin Hot Dog; $6.50) and nachos ($10).

God bless Los Latinos – it’s helping make what was one a rather bleak backwater into yet another western suburbs foodie hot spot!

You can read Nina Rousseau’s Age review here.

Los Latinos on Urbanspoon