What is it that gives us that perfect balance between sweetness and spice, crunchy freshness and crispy maillard? And who is that irrefutable Señora of fusion, Iberian-American, north and south, arid and tropical, ancient and recent?
It’s Mexico, fine people. A land of eagles and serpents, steaming jungles, crackling deserts, and a culture and cuisine so vivid they’ll make you squint.
You’re keen for the best zesty goodness the culinary world has to offer, and we are happy to oblige.
25 Caxton St, Petrie Terrace
La Carmela is a vibrant venue, replete with all the trappings of a Mexican cantina (with a cosy little beer garden out the back). They offer an opulent selection of small dishes, tacos, burritos, and a whole section devoted to those noblest staples of Mesoamerican cuisine—frituras de maiz (corn chips to the rest of us). Yes indeed, they’ve got kingfish ceviche, delicious empanadas, and a loaded serve of nachos that will change your life.
Of course, no Mexican bar would be complete without one serious cocktail list, and La Carmela has just that. Margaritas, tropical tipples, spicy classics, and jugs of sangria promise this is one dining experience you won’t soon forget.
La Carmela is open Wednesday to Sunday, from 12pm to 10pm (till midnight Fridays and Saturdays!)
El Torito Mexican Restaurant
146 Boundary St, West End
El Torito (The Little Bull) has been serving up marvellous Mexican for the past quarter-century: Truly, a mainstay of Brisbane’s ever-growing culinary scene. Family run and owned, El Torito does some of the most delicious home-style foods, deeply traditional and fundamentally fabulous.
Worthy of a special mention are the cerdo en salsa verde (pork and peppers in a green capsicum sauce), the mole poblano (chicken in an ancient blend of spices, chilli, and chocolate), and the tamales.
Tamales are little rolls of corn mesa (dough) steamed in corn husks with a filling and served with sauce. The Aztecs offered tamales to their gods. I think they must have been on to something, because these little morsels are divine.
El Torito is open Tuesday to Sunday from 5:30pm to 9pm.
321 Chatsworth Rd, Coorparoo QLD
This atmospheric little nook offers meals with a personal touch. California Native specialises in (you got it!) Californian cuisine—offering a vivid variety of Latin dishes. The powerful flavours of California and Mexico combine to give us a selection of burgers, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, and tostadas brimming with all the smokey, cheesy, spicy goodness of the Golden State (that’s California not Queensland, folks).
They also offer a quirky selection of boutique beers and spirits, soda-floats, classic cocktails, margaritas, and the irresistible sangria.
California Native is open from 5:30pm Wednesday to Friday, and from 5pm on weekends. Get on it!
Shop 4/59 Hardgrave Rd, West End QLD
Who doesn’t just love a good taco? There’s something about our favourite lil teeny tiny tortillas that just howls ‘I’m having such a damn good time!’ The folks at Mama Taco know this, and they serve up an artfully curated selection of tacos and plates that will have you on a one-way ride to Ciudad del Sabor. I’m talking charcoal beef, smoked and caramalised sweet pepper guacamole (c’mon people), and diabolical desserts like a mango vanilla yoghurt cheesecake with mole crisp.
They also have a wild list of tequila and mezcal based cocktails that will keep you around long after you’ve finished the food!
Mama Taco is delivering up the goods from 12pm till 10:30, Wednesday to Sunday.
Baja Modern Mexican
211 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley
We all enjoy new, creative takes on things, probably none more than the folks at Baja Mexican. Preoccupied with freshness, quality, and presentation, this bistro-esque cantina puts a twist on nearly everything. They do their guacamole with Mexican dukkah, use Cape Grim beef for the carne asada, and put manchego on the corn. Holy freakin’ frijoles.
Baja offers a lavish selection of tacos and snacks, as well as three heroic sharing platters: Pork belly with grilled pineapple, lamb shoulder with blood orange and Serrano salsa, and the aforementioned carne asada, served with a red wine andmasa mole!
Baja Modern Mexican is blowing minds and taste buds Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm till late (and they’re open for lunch on Fridays till three!)
La Quinta Mexican Cafe & Bar
1/189 Oxford St, Bulimba QLD
La Quinta has been serving up Mesoamerican deliciousness for almost twenty years, fostering a warm community vibe and a colourful dining experience. Bringing you a sumptuous range of dishes and a fully stocked bar, they are most definitely down to party!
Whether it’s snacks and street food or hefty classics, La Quinta has you covered. Special mention must go to their absolutely hectic chimichanga, cheeky quesadillas, and their exhaustive list of tacos. To top it all off, they also serve some serious banquets, so if you’re into massive mountains of Mexican, these folks have what you need!
La Quinta is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5pm to 9pm, and Friday to Sunday from noon till 9pm.
Mama de Luna
83 Kedron Brook Rd, Wilston QLD
Mama de Luna is a Mexican bar, restaurant, gift shop, and café like no other—a family-owned, family-run haven of nourishment and a tribute to families everywhere. Embracing tradition, and with an atmosphere as warm as the depths of the Yucatan, it offers some of the most savoury Mexican dishes this side of the river.
Mama de Luna brings the flavours and colours of Mexico to a stunning breakfast menu (big brekky quesadilla or corn fritters Azteca, anyone?), tacos and tostadas, and a selection of rich Mexican mains like huarache and fajitas guaranteed to fill the belly and soothe the soul. Also on offer is a suite of nourishing Mexican salads and delectable desserts, and a well-curated list of tequilas, mezcals, and salt-of-the-earth cocktails.
Mama de Luna is open from 10am to 2pm, then from 5pm to 9pm Wednesday to Friday; 8:30am to 2pm on weekends, and from 5pm to 9pm on Saturday nights.
11 Florence St, Teneriffe
Undoubtedly dedicated to the proliferation of the Brisbane Mexican scene, La Patrona draws on its Baijo region roots to deliver a rich fusion of Spanish and indigenous cuisine.
Aiming to producing the most authentic food possible, their specialties include a decadent guacamole served with caviar, creamy chipotle prawns in salsa brava, and the indomitable luchador; the out-of-this-world Molcajete Mixto—a veritable feast of chorizo, rib fillet, fried cheese, chipotle chicken and prawns, cactus salsa…of course, it serves two!
La Patrona is open from 5:30pm for dinner seven days a week, and for lunch on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays!
58 Hope St, South Brisbane
Featuring a rotating vegetarian menu (who doesn’t love surprises?) and a strong ethos of sharing, El Planta delights in promoting a wholesome, social dining experience. Everything is house-made and made from scratch (love it). They gleefully point out that each and every tortilla is hand-pressed and cooked minutes before they’re served—a true dedication to tradition.
They serve up an ever-changing variety of fresh snacks, rich stews, and tasty lil tacos, and a sumptuous banquet option—where you are left in the most capable hands. They feed you ‘family style, for the table’, one of the most relaxing ways to dine, and one eminently suited to a style of cooking so synonymous with ease and comfort.
El Planta is open Wednesday to Saturday from 5:30pm, and we strongly suggest you make a booking!
Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant at Newmarket
184 Enoggera Rd, Newmarket
Ah, Pepe’s! No conversation about Mexican food in Brisbane may be considered comprehensive without mention to this venerable establishment. Pepe’s was Brisbane’s first Mexican restaurant, opening its doors in Milton in 1972.
Still family owned and operated, they’ve been serving up that sunniest of cuisines ever since with the freshest ingredients, lashings of sauces, and some of the most generous portions around. Their barbecued pork tamales are a wonder, their sizzling fajitas are loaded, and the cochinita pibil is out of this world.
Renowned for their extensive selection of mezcal, tequilas, and a boot-slapping list of margaritas. Raspberry and kaffir lime? They got it. Jalapeño and cucumber? You bet!
Pepes is open from 11am till 10pm, seven days a week!