My fondest memories growing up had to be hot summers in downtown Los Angeles running amuck in Olivera St - A little laneway which was a destination for some yummy authentic mexican food. My family would always take me to this awesome mexican restaurant and little Gianna had tacos to her hearts content, if I finished my meal and managed to behave myself I would get to buy some mexican jumping beans from the street vendors. I was easily amused back then, as I still am now.
For the last couple of years, we Sydney-siders have been deprived of some banging mexicano - sure we've had cafe pacifico, baja cantina and flying fajitas in Glebe, but in just in the last year a number of new places have been jumping up like those little jumping beans. Many stress the point that El Loco isn't authentic..oh really?
What I love about it is that it captures the fun and it the whole "celebratory" feel of mexican food. Cafe Pacifico has done this brilliantly, and without a doubt - Barrio Chino is pretty rad too - but El Loco is a lively and casual place where anyone can grab a quick taco or twenty, some mexican beers other than Corona and get that fiesta vibe.
I've been to El Loco a few times and I find it so hard to stay away from their Margaritas ($13.50). Strong and Sour, it makes snack time fiesta time..and who doesn't love a good fiesta. Mexican food is without a doubt the best party food and head honcho Dan Hong captures this deliciousness at its best. With portions fit for sharing and flavours you crave for after a few margaritas - its a perfect mix of fun and funky atmosphere with a great menu.
The Excelsior Hot Dog ($9)
I was about to say I had never had a Mexican Hot Dog before, but there was this one time after a Lakers game in Staples Centre during my last trip to the states. As we left the game, we found makeshift food carts manned by Mexican locals...lets just say this Excelsior Hot Dog was much much better than that. A frankfurt, pico de gallo green sauce, real mayo and a ridiculous amount of cheese. It cant get any better than that my friends.
The tacos are priced at $5 each and we tend to order the full selection. The carne asada is a favorite with lemongrass beef and pico de gallo. I have to tread carefully when it comes to these tacos - they are packed with awesome flavours and freshness, but are also laced with coriander..aka my kryptonite as I am ridiculously allergic.
Best part of any el loco visit is uncovering the secret taco of the day - we had fish this time..battered fish tacos topped with coriander. Come at me, coriander.
Taco Taco Taco..Taco flavored kisses..laced with corriander. I remember getting a message from my lovely Chocolatesuze saying that there is coriander on everything.. did I say I was fearless?
I'm used to quesadillas being the size of my face but rather than using the larger burrito sized tortilla wraps, el loco makes do of the taco tortillas and sandwiches some melty queso, chorizo, jalapenos and a side of sweet corn salsa.
El Loco is a great little addition to our once mexican deprived little city. Its a great place to knock back a few margs, play guess the taco and just catch up with your beloveds. Its chockers on a weekend and forget about getting a seat on a friday - they don't take bookings which is why its good to go on an awkward time like 4:48 on a sunday arvo.
And although Campbell St, Surry Hills is a world away from downtown Los Angeles..or Mexico.. its still the perfect venue for a casual little fiesta. And since I easily finish my meal these days - a finished meal is not rewarded by mexican jumping beans... another el loco margarita will do.
El Loco - Open for lunch and dinner until late, Monday to Sunday. http://www.elloco.com.au/