Few restaurants are heaving on opening day, but walking into Tacoteca on a wintry Monday to see the venue humming speaks to the reputation this new destination has already garnered. Such is the pull of Edmundo Farrera’s vision — the enigmatic figurehead behind Snickel Lane’s La Fuente, the City’s only mezcal bar that has garnered somewhat of a cult following since it opened. Joined by Chef Patron Jean Brito helming the kitchen, their cumulative decades of experience have inspired the quest for the perfect taco. Here, we think they have achieved it.
Until now, Tacoteca has existed as an inner-city lunchtime pop-up, only spoken about between those in the know. And yet when the perfect location presented itself, Farrera and Brito knew it was time to plant some firmer roots. Now found where Food Truck Garage once stood at City Works Depot, it feels like a new destination entirely, where authentic Mexican is served at its most vibrant and brilliant.
For those unfamiliar, Tacoteca grew much of its popularity for its blue corn tortillas, all handmade on-site (when we visit, they’re being rolled through a press at the back of the open kitchen). They’re naturally gluten-free and, as such, feel slightly healthier, so you’ll find a good helping of them (made into corn chips) on the side of most dishes. These also form the base of Brito’s tacos, which come in an impressive array of flavours, like the rich lamb barbacoa, the fresh fish and the vegan smoky cabbage. (They’re also available in packs to take home, which we think is the perfect touch.)
After indulging in more than our fair share for a Monday lunchtime, what we loved the most was the small details, like the thoughtful introduction of caramelised crunchy nuts throughout dishes and grilled pineapple atop the fresh, citrusy (and gently spiced) guac, plus a surprising standout, the vegan cabbage taco, charred and exploding with flavour, although still light enough to comfortably eat more than just one (or two). For more indulgent sharing plates, the queso fondue, topped with chorizo, and the chilaquiles (almost like a shakshuka-nachos hybrid) are essential.
And while City Works Depot is primarily a daytime precinct, Tacoteca’s hefty bar menu means that this delicious venue is open well into the evening. Given its roots, a comprehensive margarita menu is, of course, on offer, while wines are drawn from global vintages and an impressive craft beer menu sits alongside, too. Horchatas and jarritos are served as teetotalling alternatives; the former is a traditional milky Mexican drink, and the latter is a soda popular across Central and South America.
In Tacoteca, we’ve found exactly what the City has been missing — genuinely authentic, delicious Mexican cuisine in an elevated eatery setting. It’s the kind of destination where neither experience nor legitimacy is compromised. And given its convenient proximity to the Denizen office, we can assure you that it is a destination we will frequent often.
Monday – Saturday, 11:30am until 10pm
City Works Depot
1/90 Wellesley Street West