Mexican food is having quite the resurgence in Melbourne lately, and I am ALL FOR IT. Chips. Salsa. Guacamole. Other things. We make a tremendously lazy and tasty chili non carne at least once a week and both secretly want it the other six days. So far we’ve tried impossible-to-get-a-table-at Mamasita, and gone to fast-food versions Mad Mex and Salsa’s super frequently. Shortly, I hope to try Guman y Gomez which has just opened on Swanston St in the city. And recently, after a tip-off from my friend Liz, we tried the atmospheric Senoritas.
Down one of Melbourne’s laneways that hide great food (as opposed to the ones that hide a couple of dumpsters and the half-assed graffiti of eleven-year-olds), and up an end of town we don’t go to much any more, you’ll find Senoritas tucked away and looking very excellent the moment you walk in. With glittering Day of the Dead artwork, masks, life-size statues and moody lighting, it’s the kind of place you should take a date. So, uh, don’t do what we did and take a baby. We did wait until after two o’clock to avoid the crowds, and for a while we were the only people in the place – also, the staff were very kind about the baby and made admiring noises about her big gummy smile. But unlike the fast food joints or even the brightly-lit Mamasita, this is more like a bar with food.
The food, though, is worth a visit. A warning, though: Liz pointed me in the direction of Senoritas due to the extensive vegan labelling on the menu, but after a chat with the waiter, it turns out that by vegan they just mean vegetarian. So instead of virtually everything in the appetizers and desserts being something I could have, it was a much more limited offering. To his credit, the waiter figured out what was cooked with dairy and what wasn’t, rustled up some good ideas and then even threw in a few extra tortillas for the confusion. Thanks, nice waiter. They’d already won me over when we got a little bowl of free tortilla chips as soon as we sat down, which you could then have with this cool selection of three salsas in bottles that decorate every table. And LO, they were ALL GOOD.
So, we had the tostadas de cactus (cactus, capsicum, onion, black beans and herbs) without the queso fresco. It made me wish I’d kept some of the tortilla chips or ordered more, because the topping far outweighed the chip underneath. It was tangy and strange – I don’t think I’ve had cactus before – but delish all the same. Next, I was served up the vegetables al ajillo (seasonal vegetables with garlic, chili and lime juice) along with cumin flavoured rice and the above tortillas. I rolled me up some tasty food and then slowly chomped down more of the vegetables. I was full before the end, however, and sharing some of the strips of vegetables with the Rocket which, let’s face it, wasn’t my best idea. Babies don’t appreciate chili, who knew? Wimps.
For a drink I had the lovely, sweet and fresh non-alcoholic jamaica (hibiscus and agave are in it, I think?) and was entirely happy. The waiter says the menu will be updated soonish, allowing for more vegan options and clearer labelling. It’s sad, really, that it’s not really baby-appropriate; there’s space, and no steps (that I can recall), and Teach says the toilet is gorgeous and big. Oh well, you can’t take your baby everywhere, just like you don’t take your mother to Quentin Tarantino movies.
16 Meyers Place