Los Latinos


Los Latinos, 128 Mitchell St, Maidstone. Phone: 9318 5289

We were random but regular visitors to Los Latinos in the months after our write-up of the Maidstone Latin American eatery, early in its life.

But it’s been a while, so it feels nice settling in for lunch.

I’ve done what is almost unthinkable for me – leaving home without a book – but am satisfied enough with a house copy of one of the weekend rags.

It’s the wrong one and the wrong size, but I enjoy reading the foodie bits and the sports section anyway.

The menu seems to have grown quite a bit – featuring more seafood, more main courses and dishes listed by nationality – than found on the menu at the restaurant’s website.

The first thing I am told by a staff member is that tamales – one of several dishes on the menu marked with “not available” stickers – are in fact very much available.

I order them and end up very glad I have done so.

Isn’t there something totally magical and mysterious about food that comes in packages?

Think of dumplings, for instance.

In this case, the banana leaf wrapping on my two tamales unfolds to reveal two good-sized slabs of cornmeal masa (south-of-the-border polenta?), each one filled with some tender chicken on the bone, a couple of green olives, a long and well-cooked green bean and a big chunk of super potato.

It’s all delicious and filling – and a pretty good bargain, too, at $10 for the lot.

The benign seasoning levels and smooth pastiness of the corn mash are the perfect foil for the salsa/tomato sauce on the side. Drizzled across both tamales, it has a nice slow burn that eventually has a sheen of perspiration breaking out on my forehead.

Since Los Latinos opened, Melbourne seems to have contracted some form of Latin American fever, with quite a broad range of eateries generating a lot of talk and blogging and reviews.

And queues.

My lunch is a timely reminder that there’s a fine place just up the road doing lovely work along such lines – without the trendoid brouhaha.