Transport your taste buds at Taco Loco Cantina

Author
Sarah Daniell,
Section
On Trend,
Publish Date
Saturday, 25 November 2017, 2:25PM

SET UP & SITE

They call it a pop-up, but it feels like it's here to stay. The walls are covered in Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)-inspired murals, there are papel picado — Mexican flag banners — and a large child-sized papier mache skeleton in bright colours greets you at the door. Before Taco Loco — a spin-off from the Taco Loco food truck — took over this space, this place was a dreadful shambles called I Don't Recall, where you had to wait too long to get a really average coffee. That's all changed. Taco Loco started here just making coffee while they got themselves and their menu sorted. So now, once you've bought your weekly produce and tasted cheeses and dolmades, you may reward yourself with a Mexican brunch, surrounded by mood-enhancing decor. It's rustic with mismatched chairs, which adds character. No cool neutral tones here. A poptastically colourful cafe that complements the market.

Taco Loco Cantina on New North Rd. Photo / Jason Oxenham

SUSTENANCE & SWILL

The coffee is so good Janine orders a second barely before putting her first cup back on the saucer. They use Coffee Lab beans. Daisy and Isaac order an exotic superfood smoothie each — a Guanajuato — acai, banana and apple ($8.50). You can order "traditional" — where you'll find Mexican favourites like huevos rancheros (soft tortilla topped with fried eggs, refried beans, salsa, etc) and there's the "classico" — for those who can't bear to stray from eggs benedict and toast. We want to go to Mexico, if only in our minds and our palettes. I order the huevos locos — scrambled egg with chorizo con Papa, tortilla and salsa roja ($18); Janine picks the quesadilla, with chorizo ($13) and the kids share nachos (which is a little on the small side for $16). Isaac declares it a winner, but Daisy reckons it's a little salty. Being a bit of a salt fiend, I step in to moderate. I really love it, but if salt isn't your thing, perhaps mention that when you order and they'll probably tweak it to suit. Janine wants substantial chunks of chorizo in her quesadilla, rather than a minced meat texture, and more punch in terms of heat. There are various bottles of chipotle and chilli sauce on the table so you can add your punch, but she says the heat should come at the source — in the cooking rather than the adding later. My huevos locos is the perfect comfort food — I like the texture and the balance. My only gripe is that for $18 it's quite seriously "up there" for what you get. Two small soft tortillas with a very, very simple filling. This is not a cheap brunch option, but it's also cheaper than a return flight to Cabo San Lucas.

SERVICE & OTHER STUFF

It's busy but relaxed. We grab a table, check out the menu and a super-lovely waitperson comes to take our coffee order. We are dangerously ravenous, bordering on hangry when we arrive and, gracias a Dios, our meals come within about 10 to 15 minutes of ordering. No drumming of fingers on the table or gnawing on the rim of your cup here. Our coffees (two soy flat whites) arrive in a flash and are creamy, rich and strong. I think for their offering it's a little on the spendy side, however, it's a joyful little outfit and with a bit of tweaking, it could be sensational.