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Apr 11, 2007 11:12 PM

Mexican in Melbourne – Los Amates & Aztec Mexican

An Australian chowhound was asking about what to order off of Mexican Menus.

The problem is that it doesn’t seem the Mexican pickings are too good.

One option is to cook at home. My understanding is that the Mexican grocery in Melbourne is out near he airport.

Aztec Mexican

Anyone tried this place? What did you like?

Ok, it seems the only authentic Mexican in the Melbourne area is Los Amates.

This was the best review:

“Morales cooks the food that he knows from Mexico City and the south; his co-chef, Jocelyn Diaz, brings ideas from central-northern Mexico. Morales employs recent immigrants from Mexico in the kitchen and encourages their input too. It makes for a diversity and vitality that is almost unknown in Australian versions of Mexican food.”

Nice description here of the adobo de la huerta and pollo con mole negro

From this link: “The hot chocolate here is quite good but if you want it, order it early. I believe they melt chocolate into the drink which is why is takes a bit of time.”

Good description of the mole and a nice picture (scroll down). That looks like real cojita cheese on the beans.

“The Pollo Con Mole (Chicken with Mole Sauce) was four generous portions of breast meat, smothered in said mole. The mole was flavoursome, rich in body with the faintest nibble of heat. Arturo later enquired as to whether I found the heat too much. Personally, I think he could have upped the Scoville a little. But it was just right for the uninitiated.”

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    1. re: purple goddess

      I noticed in the picture of the place there is a display case with tiny skeletans. When it gets near the end of October, ask him if he makes anything special for the Day of the Dead. Usually it is pan de muerto

      Those paper flags on the celing are called papel picado (cut paper). You can buy them in Mexican party stores for special events and they will have corresponding cut-outs. Christmas will have cut outs related to that holiday, for example.

      Like that they have the picture of the Virgen of Guadalupe. Nice authentic touch.

      I took a quick look at the menu again. I'm not much of an enchilada person, but the vegetarian version they sell sounds interesting .. Corn tortillas fried then filled with potato, cheese and coriander topped with salsa verde.

      Haven't seen them with potatoes before. Coriander is usually called cilantro in the US. If you haven't had it, it is an aquired taste from some. However, you mentioned somewhere in another post that you liked Vietnamese which also uses cilantro.

      This sounds like the real deal, but a few other places that get positive mention for at least decent versions of the ... what I'd call here, Mexican-American food ... maybe should change that to Anglo-Mexican food ... none of these places had raves, more in the ok to good category.
      - Blue Corn (gets the most favorable mentions
      )- Coyote Cafe (ok from what I read)
      - Mexicali Rose (the owner once had a Mexican shop)
      - Mi Corazon (scroll to the bottom in this link

      I just got that the Taco Bill name is a take-off on Taco Belll ... no wonder the food is lousy.

      1. re: rworange

        I have been to Los Amates and it was quite good - Had the chilaquiles at brunch -

        As for the Azteca near the airport, I was very dissapointed, they have very few things and what they do have is mostly stuff you can make here without having speciality ingredients -

        Mybe I went on a day when they were relatively empty, but it's far to go for slim pickings - I have even found better corn tortillas at Safeway than what the had frozen there...

        1. re: sandra in australia

          What other Mexican restaurants have you tried and what did you think, Sandra?

          I'm pretty sure everyone thinks Taco Bill is swill. I have yet to read a positive comment about it. However, if there is something decent to order there it would be good to know.

          1. re: rworange

            So far Los Amates is the only one - We have only been here 1 month! Want to try Blue Corn soon -

            Taco Bill's looks a little ominous! Actually the menu just looks like Tex Mex, which is fine, but that's easy to make at home with regular ingredients!

            1. re: sandra in australia

              Thanks sandra. Hope you will report back on Blue Corn when you go. You and purple goddess can probably initiate a group of locals sharing info about local eats.

              1. re: rworange

                purple goddess,

                In ref your thread on the other section, did you go to the suspect Mexican resto?

                I am Mexican and Spanish is my first language, so if you (or anyone else for that matter!) want to join in with my attempts at trying Mex in Melbourne, let me know - I can certainly guide you through the menus!

                Drove by Tres Tacos today, anyone know anything about it? It was closed until dinner, and the menu did not look promising, but well executed it could be great...

                1. re: sandra in australia


                  I avoided that restaurant like the plague!!! Not even on a dare!!!

                  I hear Mexicali Rose is good.. but given the dirth of "authentic" Mex here in Melb, the base line people are working from maybe a wee bit suspect.

                  I would LOVE to have you guide me thru a Mex menu!!!

                  Let us know how Tres Taco stacks up. Mr Goddess and I are going to try Los Amates next week.. for the mole and the tamales.

                  1. re: purple goddess

                    Right, I was planning on trying Tres Tacos next week, if you're not Mex-ed out, maybe you want to come along?

                    1. re: sandra in australia

                      would LOVE to!!!

                      We're free Thurs of next week. My email is in my blog line. Drop me a line and we'll tee something up!

    2. Finding good authentic Mexican food in Melbourne is extremely hard to find. I'm not surprised. Well, when I went to Melbourne last year, I heard about Los Amates. Being Mexican and having traveled all over Mexico trying different varieties of food, I was excited to finally try something that could finally be considered Mexican there.

      Once there, I felt that I couldn't call it authentic Mexican. It seemed rather westernized. There was hardly any flavor too and nothing seemed spicy. I went twice, just to see if I was wrong the first timeand I wasn't.

      So whenever I'm in Melbourne, the only Mexican I can get is the food I cook for my Aussie friends with some ingredients that I bring with me, buy there, and what they have grown.

      3 Replies
      1. re: thebat

        Sandra In Australia, Mr Goddess and I are off to check out Tres Taco tonight..

        will let you know how that goes.

        Feel free to come and cook for me ANYtime you're in melbourne, m'dear!!!

        1. re: purple goddess

          Well we had a great time at Tres Tacos last night!

          While I would not necessarily call it "authentic" the burritos were good, the taquitos nice and crispy, and the flan de queso was outstanding!

          Up next, Mexicali Rose and Blue Corn... stay tuned!

          1. re: sandra in australia

            Excellent. Can we see food photos from your next adventure?

      2. mexacali rose on swan st in richmond is not too bad and they used to have a mexican food store nearby which has unfortunately closed down. The owner is enthusiastic and quite knowledegable and even used to grow fresh tomatillos! They sell you produce from their storeroom so you dont have to make the trek out to Aztec traders in airport west (eg. frozen corn tortillas canned tomatillo, chipotle etc.) Casa iberica on Johonson st brunswick also has a great range of dried chlli, smoked paprika and the best jamon!

        1 Reply
        1. re: tallhall

          Great tip, thanks! Will definitely go very soon...

        2. Just tried out Los Amates on the weekend and I will be back! The food was great, they sat us out in the little tin shed cantina at the back (which made it even more authentic!), the servings were generous and the service was good. Recommended.

          1. Casa Iberica in Johnson St Fitzroy has a good range of ingredients and utensils from all over the Spanish-speaking world, including such things as tortilla presses and pans.