Mexican chicken for Footscray


Los Pollos Flame-Grilled Chicken, 230 Nicholson St, Footscray. Phone: 9396 0368

There was a definite ripple of excitement that hit the inner west as it became know that a Mexican chicken joint would stepping up to take over the premises formerly inhabited by Burger Business.

Somehow – between checking out the business’ Facebook page and website, and then talking with a few folks – I convinced myself that Los Pollos was part of a franchise deal.

It seems that is not the case, though it certainly looks the part if management care to move in that direction and move into other locations.

They make their own corn chips, but when we ask, we’re told the tortillas are brought in.

So how does it stack up – some real-deal Mexican tucker; or just another Tex-Mex place a la Guzman y Gomez?

A big step up from Taco Bill – or on a par?

Well, it’s definitely more Tex-Mex than La Tortilleria – and that’s fine by us.



After we order, we adjourn to the lovely garden space out back.



Bennie is very impressed with his Super LP Burrito with grilled chicken, rice, beans, salsa, queso tasty, pica de gallo, guacamole and jalapeno crema ($16.50).

He offers his dad a taste, after which I, too, conclude this is better than similar offerings you’ll find at similar places elsewhere.

And, yes, it eats bigger than it looks.

It comes with a handful of corn chips.



My half chicken combo with two sides, two salsas and six tortillas ($18.95) is more of a mixed bag.

I like the chicken, even if it doesn’t provide the sort of lip-smacking joy for which I have been hoping.

Bennie, after consuming a drumstick, disagrees with that modest assessment.

It’s different – not Nando’s, not your average Aussie charcoal chook.

The salsas are lovely – though having requested one medium and one hot, I find them similar in the heat/spice department.

The sides – red rice and roasted potatoes – are OK, but on the lacklustre side.

The word “roasted” led me to expect spud chunks with more crackle than has arrived.

You’ll eat fine at Los Pollos, but it’ll pay to keep those expectations grounded.

Check out the Los Pollos website – including menu – here.


Tex-Mex sanctuary

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Muyrico, Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre, Point Cook. Phone: 0424 101 020

We’re in Point Cook for some Mexican food – or, more accurately – some Tex-Mex tucker.

Our most recent adventure along those lines – on the other side of the freeway, at another shopping centre – had hardly thrilled us, so why our upbeat mood?

Because Muyrico’s Rupantar Dey has approached us with a view to doing a review (see full disclosure below).

We like his style and honest approach so we are quietly hopeful.

That optimism turns out to be well founded.

Rupantar and partner Gaurav Verma have a nice little operation going at Sanctuary Lakes shopping centre.

The food is cheap and tasty.

Keep in mind this shopping centre food court fare and a nice time can be had.



We start with a range of the lads’ snacky items – flaky pastry beef empanada ($1.50 each), devilled chook leg ($1.80) and corn fritters ($2.50 for three).

These are all fine.

The fritters especially impress – they’re simple, light, moist, chewy and corny, and much better than the very similar spring onion pancakes we sometimes try in Chinese places.



Our quesadila ($10.90) is a messy treat.

The flour tortilla is toasted after being stuffed with pulled pork, cheese and beans, the whole lot then anointed with sour cream, guacamole, corn and tomato.



Our chimichanga ($10.90) has a chicken filling, but in most regards this deep-fried burrito shares much with our quesadila, only it’s a bit more stodgy.

Kinda like a cheerful Tex-Mex take on an old-school chiko roll – and I suspect there’s folks for whom that description will be a big, fat green light!




The chocolate mousse and cinnamon rice pudding ($6, but soon to be – I’m told – $4.50) are, as expected, sinfully rich – and with consistencies more like soup than pudding!

Gaurav and Rupantar tell me Muyrico is going good, though they’re still feeling their way to what works best for the demands of their location and customers.

They’re especially pleased with their bustling home delivery service.

Muyrico is open until 9.30pm seven nights a week.

Check out the Muyrico website here.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Muyrico as guests of management. No money changed hands. Our food was chosen by CTS. Muyrico management did not seek any editorial input into this story.)


Bumpy landing



Montezuma’s Mexican Restaurant & Bar Williams Landing, T23/102 Overton Road, Williams Landing

This year, CTS has indulged in a couple of meals at Melbourne Mexican restaurants with reputations for authenticity.

Such are the continuous, unstoppable, nifty ways humans operate that “authenticity”, when soberly analysed in just about any setting (food or otherwise), is seen to be something of the ultimate straw man.

Origins of pasta, anyone?

Still, we were surprised just how little “wow” we found in those meals.

Maybe true blue Mexican is simply not for us?

And, gosh, tacos that amount to little more than a couple of mouthfuls can, over the course of a hungry meal, add up to more dollars than expected.



We were forced to acknowledge, somewhat to our surprise, that we actually may prefer the hybrid food usually referred to as Tex-Mex and as served rather well – we think – by our local.

So we are quite happy to rock up to Montezuma’s at Williams Landing.

It’s part of a franchise deal that has close to 20 eateries around the country, though this is the first in Victoria.

It’s located around the corner from the Williams landing shopping centre itself, and right next door to an also-newish Chinese place we have yet to check out thoroughly.

Montezuma’s is decked out, inside, in a predictable fashion and looks inviting in a familiar way.

But it’s a nice sunny day so we choose, for once, to go alfresco.



Bennie’s full pulled pork nachos appear rather hum-drum and are up there in price at $19.90.

But they work well and he enjoys his meal.

And there’s a heap of very good pulled pork – better than served in many non-barbecue specialist places – under all the usual trimmings pictured.



A side serve of guacamole ($4.90) and corn chips ($3) are just OK, but we are surprised we have to request hot sauce for our table when we have become so used to having a range of saucy bottles already provided – at all sorts of eating places.



The Montezuma’s menu is extensive and there are many combinations to be had.

Mine, the #17 Speedy Gonzales, costs $19.90 and comes with a beef taco, chilli con carne, corn chips and salad.

It is dull.

All is perfectly edible, but there’s simply no zing.

The chilli con carne is particularly lame.

Maybe it’s from a fresh batch, but the beans, meat and gravy in no way coalesce.

Worse, that gravy tastes all tomato and no seasoning; no appreciable tang of salt, pepper, chilli, cumin, lemon or anything else.

My taco is of drab food court standard, while the salad is the best of my meal.

A couple of bottles of Jarritos soft drink have pushed our lunch-time bill out to the $60 mark.

And that seems quite a lot for a meal that will be hastily consigned to the most deeply buried files in the CTS memory bank.

Maybe we arrived with unrealistic expectations.

Check out the Montezuma’s website, including menu, here.

New taco joint? Sweet!




Sugar Skulls, 185 Mount Alexander Road, Flemington.

Sugar Skulls is located on lower Mount Alexander Road, right opposite the fine cafe that is Phat Milk and in a premises that was formerly occupied by a beauty shop.

It’s been open about five weeks.

We arrive early and hopeful on a Friday night.




At first there’s a little confusion about whether, upon being directed to wait our turn at the serving counter, we’re in the house for takeaway or eat-in.

That’s quickly sorted and we’re shown to a window table with the proviso we must be gone in 45 minutes.

No probs!




Sugar Skulls is a compact and classy operation, with a concise menu (see below) that encompasses food and beer, wine and mixed drinks.

But there is a fast-food element to proceedings, so I’m not sure why they’re bothering with bookings – especially as there is no phone number provided on either their website or Facebook page (the website has a bookings facility through OpenTable).

And certainly we make the 45-minute deadline with time to spare – this is some of the quickest food delivery we’ve ever experienced.

That’s entirely appropriate for what is pretty much street food and we’re happy because we’re hungry.

We order about half the menu.




From the list of “little things” – potato gems ($4), guacamole ($4) and corn chips and salsa ($6).

They’re all fine and very keenly priced – though I’m left wishing for a bit more spice and zing from the rather bland salsa.




Much the same could be said of our tacos – we order two each of the chicken, pork and prawn at $6 a pop.

They’re lovely and fresh, and each has its own distinctive dressing and adornments.

We especially like the tempura-like vibe of the prawn outings.

But, yep, I wish for a bit more ooomph in the chilli/lime/lemon/salt department.

Mind you, there is a nice range of hot sauces on hand if that’s your wont.

We use a couple of them to slather on the extra serve of corn chips we order – both the chips and the tortillas come from nearby La Tortilleria.

That takes our bill for a satisfying, drinkless meal to a fine $54.






Yarraville Mexican better

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Village Cantina, 30 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 8000

It’s been six months since Consider The Sauce’s first visit to the then newly opened Village Cantina in Yarraville.

I’m happy to return, especially as Bennie has yet to do so and it fits right in with our mid-week nothing-planned-for-dinner situation.

Without intending to make such a direct comparison to that first visit, we end up ordering two items had on that occasion – and it’s something of a revelation.




First though we start with “street style chargrilled corn” with chipotle mayo, queso fresco and lime ($5).

Our single serve cut in two lasts all of about five seconds.

It’s yummy but oh-so-very small!




Bennie’s beef burito ($14) is a big step up from the same item ordered by me on that initial visit.

This is much more deftly done with none of the solid if enjoyable stodginess I experienced.

The filling has very nice shredded beef and there’s salsa, sour cream and guacamole on the side.




But the real eye-opener is the nachos ($13).

I’m not sure why I order this, as nachos can so often veer between acceptable bar/snack food for sharing and a gloopy, unappetising mess.

The new-look Village Cantina nachos has real good melted cheese, guacamole, black beans and salsa in great profusion atop a big mound of good corn chips.

But this nachos is lifted to a whole ‘nuther level by the fabulous strips of grilled chicken that have tremendous flavour and a bit of a cajun thing going on.

It’s the best nachos I’ve ever had.

There’s so much of it – and its tastes so good – I’m happy to fully share with Bennie once he’s done with his burrito.

Heck, it’d make a fine light meal for two!



Village Cantina – excellente!




Village Cantina, 30 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 8000

Barely a week after Village Cantina’s opening, Team CTS descends on the joint for a taste of what it has to offer.

It’s busy as all get out.

Wait time is prolonged but the staff do their best.

We recommend, while the place is so busy with folks checking it out for the first time, that the best times to visit are early or late.

The expectations and hopes of we three are quite finely calibrated.

We don’t expect the authenticity of La Tortilleria.

OTOH, we’re hoping for something better and more enticing than what is offered by the likes of Salsa’s or Guzman y Gomez.

Sometimes – like right now! – Mexican food through an American prism is just the ticket.

That’s exactly what we get.

But … it’s very good.

Much better than we expect!




Jalapeno poppers ($6 for three) are wonderful, with gooey cheese centres and breadcrumb coatings.

They’re spicy, too. Much hotter, in fact, than any of the array of hot sauces at hand.




We try them all just to make sure!




Instead of fiddling around with a bunch of other entrees, we go for the nachos ($12), which is another winner.

That the beef is shredded and lovely, rather than merely ground, is testament to the fact that Village Cantina is staking out the high ground when it comes to this sort of food.




My beef burrito ($13) is good, with the cheese shining out amid the other ingredients – rice, black beans, salsa and shredded beef.

It’s solid, satisafying and enjoyable.




But I do look with envy at the selections chosen by my companions – they appear both more interesting and more refined.

The bloke who chose the pork quesadilla ($12) is very happy indeed.




Fish and pork tacos ($6 each) also hit the spot, with their recipient telling me the former has good, crisp and solid chunks of fish.

Our dinner, including three Mexican soft drinks, has cost us precisely $65.

And that, we reckon as we very happily depart, is a bargain.




Mexican in Yarraville – it’s open!




Village Cantina, 30 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 8000




By the time I discover Village Cantina in Ballarat Street is up and running, it’s too late – I’ve already had an at-home dinner!

(Nothing flash – sourdough ciabatta toast topped with tomato slices and sardines …)

So this post is more your newsy story to alert readers to the opening and the subsequent rise village diversity.

We’ll no doubt be taking the menu for a test drive very soon and will write about the food then.




The place is done out in colourful cantina style with some nicely cool art works in place.

They’re busy even just an hour after opening.

The compact menu doesn’t get in the least bit adventurous or weird – here you’ll get grilled corn, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and churros.

On the other hand, the tortillas are being supplied by El Cielo of Port Melbourne, so the quality should be there.

(See menu below.)



Out back, there’s a three-table funky garden for chilling out purposes.

For opening hours, check out the Village Cantina Facebook page.





New tastes at a brilliant temple of boganism



Flying Elephants and B&K Sarajevski Style Chevapi, Rubble & Riches Market, 8-18 Leakes Rd, Laverton

Mexican food at Lavo Market?

With a name like Flying Elephants?

I’m fully expecting a neo-hippie or utterly whitebread take on … someone’s idea of Mexican food.

What I find is quite different – a smallish operation staffed by a friendly crew of three, each and everyone of them boasting Thai ancestry.

How wonderfully westie is that?

In fact, Lavo Market is pretty much that way all round.

Anyone feeling gloomy about the prospects of the west being strangled by yuppifying gentrification should visit this weekend wonder – in its hardcore, unrepentant untrendiness, it will surely give your spirits a lift.

The Flying Elephants sell a compact range of burritos, flautas and tacos.

My chicken taco ($5) is a real nice surprise.

For starters, there’s two of them – bargain!

On to commercial but OK tortillas are piled good chicken, two kinds of cheese, some simple salsa and lettuce. There’s a variety of hot sauces to round things out.

This may not be up to the sort of standard set by La Tortilleria – but I’m not complaining.


I haven’t been to this market since first writing about it, so I’m delighted to find the Flying Elephants are just one several new food enterprises up and running.

One of them will not be getting my custom or my money.

People with cameras are potential customers, too.

Stallholders not wishing photographs to be taken should erect signs saying just that.

Or simply saying something like, “Please don’t take photographs – but you’re very welcome to try our food” would do nicely.

Death stares and verbal abuse? No thanks.


I fare much better at another newie – the bright red B&K Sarajevski Style Chevapi.

As with the Flying Elephants, the B&K team have gone that extra mile by providing some tables and chairs – something that can’t be said of many of the market’s food outlets.

They’re selling chevapi and souvlaki in a range of configurations both plated and stuffed in bread of one kind or another.

My plate of five chevapi, two salads and a bread roll is $6.50 – another bargain!

This a Croatian food, so – knowing the Croatian skill with spuds and cabbage – it’s the potato and cabbage salads I am most interested in.

I’m not disappointed.

While the salads have something rather monotone about them, they are both fresh, zingy and delicious.

The chevapi themselves are OK but need more seasoning.






Pure delight on a Kensington back street



La Tortilleria, 72 Stubbs St, Kensington. Phone: 9376 5577

Like so many other folks, we were knocked out to hear about a new Mexican joint in a Kensington back street, dedicated to churning out high-quality tortillas and serving lovely eat-in goodies, and doing both with wide smiles.

Knowing La Tortilleria was bound to be an immediate and surefire hit, we resolved to hold off doing a Consider The Sauce story on it until after the dust had settled.

Bennie and I visited for a nice, sunny Sunday lunch on the verandah soon after, but we – or, rather, I – blew it.

So intent were we on chowing down, we forgot about the all-important chilli sauces and salsa available inside.

So while we enjoyed our food, it’s true to say we found it rather rudimentary.


Returning for a fab mid-week lunch and a somewhat overdue catch-up with very good CTS pal and neighbour Rob turns out to be a wonderful thing.

I enjoy the hell out of Rob’s evident surprise in finding such a brightly and funkily adorned establishment in such an unlikely setting.

It’s a fine but chilly day, so we’re rapt to snag one of the inside tables with no trouble at all, endowing us with a prime position to enjoy our lunch, its cooking and preparation, and the various other comings and goings.

For Rob, this is his first experience with the wonderful bubbles of Jarritos soft drinks.

He goes mandarin and is stoked; I go tamarind and wish I hadn’t.


Consistency is vastly over-rated in my book.

So I’m delighted to report that our guacamole is both smoother and more lemony than the rendition Bennie and I had been served.

It’s delicious, though in this case I find the corn chips rather too gnarly and too much like hard work.


The meatier side of our lunch is equally tasty.

A beef taco ($4.50) each, with the soft tortillas embracing simply beautiful beef still pink in the middle and topped with raw onion and coriander.

Loaded up with chilli sauce and salsa, they’re sublime.

To finish, a $6.50 gringas each.

These are sinfully sexy tortilla sandwiches of pork and gooey melted cheese.

Similarly dressed with the nearby condiments, these, too, get the big thumbs up from both of us.

Everything about La Tortilleria seems so right that we adore it without inhibition.

I’ve heard, though, of queues, so choosing your time to visit is worth some deliberation.

As far as we know, Ms Baklover scooped with the world with her Footscray Food Blog story about La Tortilletia – read it here.






Reverence Hotel



Reverence Hotel, 28 Napier St, Footscray. Phone: 9687 2111

Just as with the now posh Station Hotel across the road, we never set foot inside the Reverence in its previous life.

Perhaps unfairly, we always had it stereotypically tagged as what a friend refers to as a “sooper dooper old man’s pub”.

Although, and as with preconceptions of another pub still standing up the road in Hopkins St, we figure you could throw in a few bikies and crims just for good demographic measure.

All that’s changed – and how – at the Reverence these days.

It’s a two-room music venue of high repute, though I suspect most of the music would be too much of a grinding, noise variety for me even when I’m in my most grungy moods.

But there’s food and more, too, with an accent on Mexican and pizzas.


A big crowd is building for the Tuesday night trivia bash.

There’s a pleasant beer garden out back.

But most folks, including a lot of family groups, are just like me and here for the Tuesday $3 tacos.

Taco night means ONLY tacos, so sadly I am unable, on this first visit, to try more wide-ranging items from the menu, which you can check out at the pub’s fine website here.

So I order three of the four taco options available – chicken, chilli con carne and bean.

Tofu taco? No way!


However, so sensational, so delicious are my tacos that not only do I struggle to resist the temptation to order another platter but I also feel sure next time around I’ll be ordering the tofu number just for the heck of it.

My tacos are topped with plentiful coriander, shredded red cabbage, a little red capsicum, corn and lime mayo, each taco dressed a little differently.

I anoint each one with some of the salsa provided and a hefty dollop from one of the variety of hot sauces on hand.

They’re all great, but if anything the bean number is the highlight.


After my crash hot dinner, I enjoy another wander around – it’ a surprise and a delight. There’s many different rooms and spaces.

I meet ardent Consider The Sauce fan Lousie.

We talk food a bit but mostly about books and reading.

I leave her to finish the final 20 or so pages of Anna Karenina.

Tuesday tacos are served from 6pm to 9pm. By the time I split, at about 7pm, the bar queue to order them is longish, so an early arrival would seem advisable.



Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill



Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill, Highpoint, 120-200 Rosamond Rd, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9317 4623

After expressing our somewhat surprising – to us – affection for the works of Guzman y Gomez, a friend suggested we check out Salsa’s, housed in the very same shopping centre.

So I did.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to resist making a direct comparison between the two fast-food Tex-Mex outlets.

For starters, while Guzman y Gomez is set up in such way as to at least make a handy grab at sustaining its own vaguely groovy ambiance, Salasa’s has no such luck.

It’s situated right out there, just another outlet in a giant, circular shopping centre food court of little or no soul.

As well, the menus of the two places are remarkably alike.


Corn chips and guacamole ($4.50) are OK.

The corn chips may be crisp, but they are about as bland as corn chips can get – one extreme of corn chippery, with the toxic likes of Doritos at the other.

The guacamole is of the smooth, blended variety with some texture from red onion and a little tomato.

But it’s not as swell as the chunky stuff at Guzman y Gomez.


My original beef burrito ($8.95) is a stodgy disappointment.

My fault – the use of the phrase “Texas beef” should have alerted me to the use of ground meat; I should have opted for a burrito that had real meat and black beans.

As it is, my burrito is very heavy on the rice with no discernible cheese element. I can see some fresh stuff like tomato and onion but can’t taste or feel it.

The “Texas beef” is OK – a bit like a cross between chilli con carne and bolognese – but just seems a little weird in a heavy-going burrito that goes unfinished.



Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Taqueria

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Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Taqueria, Highpoint, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9988 1401

We attended the opening night of Guzman Y Gomez at Highpoint to take advantage of and really enjoy the free burritos.

We’ve been back several times since.

But this unusual – for us – Sunday dinner trip feels a little different.

We’ve been unable to decide between his preferences – spicy Asian or Indo-Chinese in Footscray – and my own for something a little less familiar, further afield and/or blog-worthy.

We pull over for a quick tactical discussion and then we’re happily off to Highpoint.

And we’re not going because other chores have taken us to Highpoint.

Nor is it about Bennie’s dad giving his son an always desired fast-food experience.

No, we’re headed this way because we really, truly do enjoy the food here.

This seems something of a revelation – who would’ve thunk it?


The guacamole (plastic tub) and corn chips (paper bag) cost $5 and are super.

It seems a little surreal to be eating something as fresh and tasty as this gorgeous, chunky guacamole amid such a typically fast-food ambiance.

The corn chips have changed and no longer have such a distinctive thickness or texture. These are still good and crunchy, though. They appear to be unsalted – but we prefer that over too much salt.

And we love them not only dipped in the avocado dip but also in the zippy, smoky, complementary chipotle Tabasco (plastic tub).


Bennie gobbles up his beef quesadilas ($8.50, cardboard tray) with gusto and relish.

They appear to be a bit skimpy on substance to me, though.

Especially when compared to the house burritos.

Indeed, so good and hefty are these that I have long since abandoned the full-size models for the “mini” version.


My “mini” pork chipotle burrito ($6.90, cardboard tray) is fantastic.

The pork is tender and not so spicy, while the rice and black beans are in just the right proportions.

And as with the avocado, so it is with the cheese in my burrito – who ever heard of eating cheese in a fast-food joint that has really good, significant flavour of, um , cheese?

We treat ourselves to a couple of Jarritos – Mexican cola for him, guava for him. And even these seem a pretty fair deal at $4 each in light of the amounts charged at franchise joints for regulation non-fancy soft drinks.

We reckon Guzman Y Gomez is superior to a similar operation at Southern Cross station and another that has been hitting the west lately.


Dos Diablos Mobile Cantina



Dos Diablos Mobile Cantina, Coulson Gardens, Chifley Drive, Maribyrnong, and many changing locations. Phone: 0413 616 771

Having left home well after the advertised opening time of 5pm, I am bemused to find no sign at all of the sexy red Dos Diablos truck.

(Confession: I did misread it badly – see comments below!)

Either they’re running awful late or I’ve completely misread the Facebook notification of tonight’s location.

After circling Coulson Gardens several times, I’m about to head home when the red beast trundles into view.

OK, I’m happy to cool my heels while get they get things rolling.

As I wait, and a few other customers drive up, I ponder the challenges of this food truck game that has made a significant impact on the westie food scene in a short span of time.

I doubt very much it’s as easy as it may appear from an outsider’s point of view.

And I wonder how scientific the various trucks get about choosing the right locations.

White Guy Cooks Thai seemed to get it just right on the night of our accidental meal with them in Seddon – a small park with heaps of shade and seating and a playground for the kids.

Coulson Gardens goes one better as it has toilets.

The Dos Diablos folk can’t do anything about the stinking hot weather, though there is a breeze coming off the river.

I know this park and the surrounding area teem with people on weekends, but I wonder how they’re going to go on a week night. All the customers I see during my visit with them arrive by car, so there are no casual, walk-up punters.


The Dos Diablos menu is tight and succinct.

All three varieties of taco cost $6 each.

My carnitas is spicy, salty and tasty, and although the pork shows few signs of the advertised “slow-roasting” it is still fine.

The vego is more humdrum. I usually love black beans, but these seem awfully boring. I love food without meat, but can quake when confronted with the horrible spectre of “vegetarian food”. This gets pretty close.


My small “papas fritas (seasoned fries)” are not my kind of deal at all. They’re chewy and heavily coated with some sort of variation of chicken salt. I can imagine some people thinking they’re crash hot, however.

The “Diablos ketchup” looks just like your regulation tomato sauce but is nicely spicy.

It’s been a satisfactory meal, but I suspect I’ve just found there are limits to food truck allure.

A serious appetite, for example, could go four of these tacos no problem – and that would start to get into significant cash output.

But I’ll continue to adore the concept and most assuredly enjoy the occasional outing with Bennie, even when the food doesn’t score top points.

After all, a sunny evening in a park, by the river or on a beach has a lot going for it all on its ownsome.




Chilli con carne


After enjoying a good bowl of chilli con carne at Liquid Yarraville, I resolve to make some myself.

I may have done so some time in the faded past, but if so I cannot recall.

My only Mexican recipe book has no recipe for same, but that’s no surprise as it’s not exactly a top-shelf publication, if you get my drift.

As well, I suspect there’s very little Mexican about chilli con carne in terms of how most of us think of it – it’s more like your south-west US thing.

This recipe is the result of scanning a half-dozen or so versions found in Louisiana community cookbooks River Road Recipes and Talk About Good!

For such an easy, “knock together” recipe, the result is surprisingly, gratifyingly delicious and deep of flavour.

I reckon I can do better, though, in terms of tweaking the seasoning, and I know Bennie’ll love it.

We hardly ever use mince in our joint, but that could change …

Maybe a little less sugar, more chilli and some oregano? Maybe more cumin, roasted and ground?

Smoked paprika?

Any tips?

(I used red capsicum instead of green, because I had a good one in the fridge; and I used red onion because of ditto …)


olive or other oil

1 can red beans

1 can tomato puree

1/2 red capsicum, chopped

1 onion, chopped

450g minced beef

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon chill powder

3 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup water


1. Heat oil over medium-high heat.

2. When hot, cook meat, capsicum and onion for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add seasonings and tomato puree.

4. Cook over medium heart for about 10 minutes.

5. Add drained beans and cook on Very Low Heat for at least an hour and a half.

Liquid Yarraville

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Liquid Yarraville, 58 Anderson St, Yarraville. Phone: 9325 1600

The “other” end of retail Anderson St has never been of much practical use to us, but that is changing.

It’s now where the nice people from the Post Office do their thing.

It’s where some equally nice chaps ease our IT issues.

And now there’s Liquid Yarraville.

Actually, it’s been there and open for a while, but we’ve only previously visited once – for some OK soup that nevertheless didn’t linger in the memory.

But we’re back, and liable to be so again quite soon, because the place has introduced a line of Mexican stuff.

As Liquid Yarraville basically operates – or has done so until now – as a funky soup-juice-smoothie place, we have no great expectations about authenticity or swishness to match the many Mexican-themed places that have spread like weeds across Melbourne, or even anything as impressive as the franchise joint at Highpoint.

In that regard, we get a nice surprise.

The Liquid lineup comes in three configurations – bowl, tortilla and nachos – that come in black bean and con carne flavours, and there’s a “straight-up” version of the nachos, too.

I take the tortilla option with my con carne ($7). And thinking the salsa and guacamole will be served on the side rather than on my stew, I order a small serve of corn chips for a small extra fee.

Bennie orders a large straight-up nachos ($7).

There’s no in-house fizzy drinks available, but we’re told it’s perfectly fine if we step out to the shop across the road for some. So Bennie does.

The corn chips vaguely look like a distant relative of the dreaded Dorito’s.

Happily, that proves not to be the case – they’re good, crunchy, low-salted and uncontaminated by horrid chemical-tainted flavours.

I would prefer the salsa and guacamole to be separate, but enjoy them both a lot with the corn chips before attending to the con carne.

It’s really fine – the equal mix of beans, tomato and beef mince is beautifully seasoned, though I anoint it with a few drops of the Tabasco we’ve been provided on request anyway.

With the slightly cardboardish but OK tortillas, this is very good and tasty meal for $7.

Bennie enjoys his nachos but is a tad jealous of his dad’s con carne, not realising he had been free to go that route with his meal. So he gets a big dollop of it anyway.

Good work by Liquid Yarraville to introduce simple Mexican-style choices while staying true to itself and not trying too hard.

It’s a cool place with a nice range of funky books to browse while you wait or dine.

And the very low prices are tops! 

Liquid Yarraville on Urbanspoon

Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Taqueria


Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Taqueria, Highpoint, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9988 1401

So a Mexican fast-food franchise is setting out its shingle at Highpoint.

It’s opening day and they’re giving away burritos for four hours.

Bennie is as excited as all get out.

It’s a happening, it involves free food, it’s at Highpoint – and some of his school friends have been talking about it.

My own expectations are more measured.

I have dark visions of unruly mobs, security guards, burritos that are mini.

As well, footy practice has endured until 7pm, leaving us a bare hour of free burrito time.

On the other hand, who knows?

I have a sneaking suspicion that food of this kind may not be too much different from that of some of the fancier and far more trendy and expensive Latin American eateries blossoming all over town.

My fears are allayed immediately upon arrival.

There’s a party time atmosphere going on but there’s no mad mobs, the mariachi band is in full voice and happy to ham it up for the crowd, and our order is taken within a minute.

Sadly, because of the opening night bash, we are thwarted in our desire to run through the side dishes such as black beans.

All we can get are a guava Jarritos, some corn chips and guacamole – and a burrito apiece, of course – for a grand total of $9.

The corn chips are very nice – they seem to be unsalted and more like the cake-y variety supplied by Taco Truck.

The guacamole is really good – fresh for sure, and a nice coarse mix.

Hey, this is starting to be a fine time, indeed!

Our burrito number is called just a few minutes after our order is placed and Bennie is at the counter to grab it.

Beef guerrero (mild) for him, spicy chicken guerrero for me.

Our burritos are foil-wrapped, with soft tortillas inside.

I heartily appreciate the fact they’ve been so cannily wrapped that the juices never even get close to leaking out the bottoms – right until the last bite.

Unlike, for instance, your typical kebeb!

Bennie barely pauses for breath while downing his beef number with gusto.

I may hear the odd “Good!” or “MMMmmmm” in the eating process, but I certainly hear a loud affirmation after his work is done.

“I reckon that’s the best burrito I’ve ever had,” he opines.

When I get into my chicken job I find out why.

Putting aside any and all notions of authenticity, this is some really, really good stuff.

The charred chicken flavour comes through, and the black beans, cheese, rice, salsa and pico de gallo all work together really well. There’s a mild chilli kick, but not in every mouthful

I couldn’t be happier or more surprised.

Maybe even a little bit shocked.

Whether these will look quite as good when the full $10.50 is being charged, without sides or trimmings, remains to be seen.

I reckon they may well do so. They’re a pretty good size, even at that price.

This place replaces a branch of China Bar we will not miss in the least.

And its neighbours are the usual suspects of Pancake Parlour, La Porchetta, Nando’s, Grill’d and the like.

Providing they maintain the quality, I can’t imagine them doing anything less than brisk business.

We’ve had a ball on opening night and really enjoyed the atmosphere.

Check out of the full menu options at the company website here.

Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Taqueria Highpoint on Urbanspoon

Taco Truck


Phone: 9023 0888

Taco Truck, its snaggy cousin, Le Sausage, and other such recent phenomena may have mobility on their side, but such things have been around forever, of course – Mr Whippy had wheels, too, y’know!

Besides them, there are the ubiquitous kebab trucks, pie carts of yore, icecream/soft drink vans wherever and whenever there is a public gathering, the famous and revered Footscray Station doughnut operation and many more.

Still, having missed the Taco Truck’s visit to Newport in mid-November, and knowing its visits to anywhere in our vicinity are somewhat rare, I am keen to grab the opportunity in Essendon, corner of Primrose and Albion streets to be precise.

I pull up and park a few minutes after the advertised open time of noon to find the Taco Truck crew still doing their prep chores.

Already a handful of people have gathered for their taco hit.

In the time I am having my lunch and taking photos, a lot of people have come, eaten and gone.

Whatever its flaws – there’s a bit of griping about the enterprise’s unreliability, waiting times, running out early and so on at its Facebook page – its apparent the social media/eating connection is a winner. 

The Taco Truck sells three kinds of taco – chicken, potato and fish – for $6 a pop.

I do as I’m sure just about all their customers do and order the combo of two tacos and corn chips for $12. A bottle of mandarin Jarritos pushes the price of my lunch out to $16.

This is a pleasingly slick and smooth operation – or at least it is today – and my meal is ready within just a few minutes.

The corn chips are quite distinctive. They seem a little bit cakier than your usual corn chips, but are no less crunchy. Very lightly salted, they are very extremely yummy. There’s simply not enough of them.

My potato taco, with its hard shell and topped with sour cream, a semi-bitter salsa verde and crisp chopped cabbage, looks like it’ll be a nightmare to eat.

It is not.

In fact, it holds together really, really well. The shell remains crunchy throughout yet does not shatter in the time-honoured taco fashion.

The potato filling is beaut and the whole thing is ace.

The fish taco comes in a soft shell. The same bits and pieces accompany, along with some creamy mayo.

This is simply incredible!

The fish – rockling I am told – is firm, juicy and flavoursome. The batter is not crisp, yet is just right, too, holding to the fish until the last delicious mouthful.

This could be the best taco I’ve ever eaten.

But I’m still hungry.

Look, I know a feed of top-class fish and chips will cost about the same these days, but in that case you’ll almost always get a ton of chips to fill you up – as opposed to the paltry handful of corn chips I receive from the Taco Truck.

And given that customers have to make do without tables and chairs, it’s a little alarming knowing that with a decent head of appetite up I could eat TWO of the combo deals – and that would push the price of a meal out to $24 and somewhat beyond the limits of cheap eats, or at least those of fast food.

Next time, we’ll make sure we take a bottle of water, to avoid the soft-drink trap, and order the combo with an extra taco for $6.

That’d be $18 for a light meal.

Still, there’s no doubting the quality of the tacos this mob is turning out.

Taco Truck on Urbanspoon

Tacos Panchos


Point Cook Town Centre Food Court. Phone: 9395 5746

A big thanks to Deb at Bear Head Soup for the great tip on this one!

Point Cook is, of course, very much part of our greater west neighbourhood – but until now it has been mostly somewhere through which we passed, or bypassed, on our way to somewhere else.

There’s no reason why such should be the case, but I am a little surprised by the size and bustle of Point Cook Town Centre when I emerge from the underground car park. Yes, it’s mall territory, but it’s laid out like a real live village, with streets and cars and stuff.

Besides, I reckon the days of dismissing malls, shopping centres and the like of being of no consequence or interest when hunting for places that trade in cool, funky, cheap and tasty food are fading fast, especially here in the spreading west, with its enthusiastic tribes of food nuts, each eager to make their own tastes and flavours available.

In any case, it’s quite a thrill to see such a colourful food outlet in an otherwise standard, mid-sized food court, although the two Asian places look of more than passing interest, as does the burger joint just past them.

Tacos Pancho is festooned with stencilled drawings of fabled Mexican wrestlers and other icons, and fronted with your authentic Mexican tiles, while the serving counter top is facsimile of the streets in which this food is sold in Mexico and Latin America.

I leave the tacos and burritos for another day, and instead order a couple of quesadillas – two kinds of filling wrapped in soft flour tortillas for $8.90.

While awaiting my food, I peruse a copy of Around Point Cook, a cracking little rag that seems like a paragon of the downhome, old-style community newspaper. (You can check out Around Point Cook here.)

My meal, when it arrives, looks a tad skimpy, but turns out to be a surprisingly filling lunch.

The chorizo and bean quesadilla is salty, cheesy and tasty, with about six slices of chorizo. The beans could’ve done with some more heat.

I’ve never been a fan of pineapple in otherwise savoury food, and indeed the fruit in the pork quesadilla does somewhat overpower the crunchy and moreish meat. The quesadilla is finished with finely diced onion and fresh coriander. I like it.

Just around the corner, I spy a keenly priced Indian place and a Vietnamese establishment that looks pretty flash ($12.90 pho, anyone?), and spot another cheap Indi place and a kebab outfit on the run home, so this is a neighbourhood worth some in-depth exploration

I meander home on the back roads, driving through industrial estates and even past the odd paddock.

It’s interesting to drive beside, over, under and around the freeway that is so often my route of commute.

Tex-Mex on the sound system, of course – specifically the contents of a parcel from Arhoolie that arrived the week before.

As I know La Morenita in Sunshine is going to be closed for a week or so, I drop in for a bunch of empanadas I ordered the previous day. Into the freezer for them!

Nothing much else to add … ‘cept Viva The Western Suburbs, Baby!

Tacos Panchos on Urbanspoon