The star attractions here though are the tacos. These are created with a Mexican flavour rather than faithfully following authentic, traditional taco recipes. This gives Touché Hombre's chefs room to explore some imaginative combinations. On the day we visited, there were nine varieties on offer. The first one I tried was a spiced pork taco with apple sauce and habanero cream, a combination of several interesting competing flavours. The tofu and beans was a healthy option with just the right amount of spice, but for me the winner was the soft shell crab taco with corn cream, lime and mint. Refreshing, spicy, but not heavy. The menu also boasted an 'el secreto' taco. To heighten the mystery surrounding this daily special, our waitress wouldn't give us a clue beforehand. It turned out to be a deliciously spicy beef taco.
Tacos range in price from $6-$8. We ordered two per person plus an entrée of corn, which was a good amount for a light meal. If you are hungry, three tacos per person plus entrees might be better.
I resisted dessert on my visit, but am tempted to return just for them. Three types of ice cream sandwich offer a sweet finish, especially if you need to put out the fire in your mouth after overdosing on the habanero chilli sauce on your table. The flavours are chocolate and chilli peanut cookie, dulce de leche (caramel) with strawberry parfait and pistachio or rice pudding and cinnamon ($7 each). In case you are dithering, you can order a tasting plate with all three for $18.
Touché Hombre only takes bookings for their large table (12–16 people) but it's not the sort of place where you have to wait long. Service is quick and they turn the tables over fairly rapidly. If you do need to wait, there's plenty of room at the bar to watch the bar staff mix up their magical tequila-based cocktails. For tequila rookies, the bar staff are happy to explain the subtleties of this often misunderstood tipple. Tequila apparently comes in one of five grades, starting from blanco which is un-aged, Joven which is a mixture of Blanco and the next grade up, Reposado which is aged a minimum of two months, Anejo which is aged a minimum of one year and Extra Anejo which is aged for a minimum of three years. No lemon and salt needed for that one!
A welcome addition to Melbourne's Mexican foodie community, Touché Hombre also deserves kudos for probably the best slogan I've ever seen in a restaurant: 'heroes de medio caparazón', which translates as 'heroes in a half shell'.
We went with great anticipation but were confronted by uncooked chicken tacos and that great scourge of the modern Melbourne trendy eatery....hipster service! Too busy trying to look edgy to be appropriately attentive to customers. To be avoided!