Growing up in Southern California, I have a special fondness for Mexican food, even an obsession you could say. Give me carne asada tacos topped with zesty guacamole, fish tacos squeezed with fresh lime, I could go on…
Moving to Australia was hard in the fact that I wasn't sure I could find good Mexican food so far from home. Where I come from there is a Mexican taco stand on every corner, many are open 24 hours. No offence to my Sydnesider friends, but Guzman y Gomez is not real Mexican food, nor are many of the trendy Mexican restaurants you find all over Sydney.
Enter the Mexican eatery El Cuervo Cantina, on their webpage it proudly states "Mexican food made by Mexicans." That's what I'm talking about.
I rounded up some friends to go check out just how authentic it is. We happened to go during the Day of the Dead celebrations which was a fantastic plus. Brightly coloured fiesta flags adorned the ceiling, and a Day of the Dead alter was set up. If you don't know about Mexican Day of the Dead celebration, an alter is set up to honour the ancestors that come back once a year in November. A picture of the deceased person is put on the alter, their favourite foods, flowers, sugared skulls which are a symbol of death and the afterlife. It's a beautiful celebration that is incredible to see.
We were soon greeted by our friendly server and a round of margaritas was ordered. I test a Mexican restaurant first by checking out just how good the margaritas are. El Cuervo's margaritas passed with flying colours, tangy and delicious with the right balance between the sweet and sour flavours. They also offer a strawberry margarita, which I didn't try, but they say is a crowd pleaser.
Next we ordered the chips and 3 dips, the chips came with a pico de gallo salsa, guacomale and a black bean dip. The chips were heavenly, straight from the fryer, nice and hot and crunchy. The guacomole and salsa were excellent, but I didn't find the black bean dip as flavourful as I would have liked.
After another round of margaritas (it was a celebration day after all) our mains came out. Now I will say this about El Cuervo Cantina, it is a fantastic restaurant, with a warm Latin vibe but don't expect quick service. The service is very relaxed and borders on slow, if you are prepared for that and in the mood for a leisurely meal you will have a great time.
Onto the mains, I ordered the Mole Poblano chicken. This is chicken drenched in a Mexican savoury chocolate sauce and it comes with rice and black beans. You may think that sounds strange but mole is a traditional Mexican dish and it is superb. Chocolate was the food of the gods according to the Aztec Indians who brought the gift of chocolate to the world. So even if you think it looks strange do yourself a favour and try the Mole Poblano chicken, you won't be disappointed.
My husband ordered the beef chilaquiles, which is torn up corn tortillas soaked in green tomatillo sauce with beef on top and served with a side of black beans. His order was so delicious it made me almost regret ordering the Mole, almost but not entirely, they were both so good. We decided to share our mains, the chilaquiles dish was so mouthwatering tasty.
At this point we were completely stuffed, we contemplated getting a Mexican sugared skull for dessert but we just couldn't fit it in. If you go there soon, try out the sugared skull especially created dessert for Day of the Dead and let me know how good it is.