Write because you want to, not because you have to.
Published September 24th 2019
Walking down Rundle Street, you might notice something a bit different. A new establishment boasting of pastel pink and royal blue-painted walls and doors, which encompass the beauty of the newest restaurant and bar on the block - La Taberna.
A family-owned restaurant, bar and kitchen La Taberna specialise in giving their customers a dining experience that is no-nonsense authentic and serves up dishes that have a blend of Portuguese, Latin, and Mexican influences with a modern Australian spin to it - just the way that I love it! Co-owned by Rosa and Gaspar Sa (a wife and husband duo) who are also the head chefs of the enticing creations on their menu, the team of two have concocted a menu that highly resonates with their early days cooking in Portugal, Spain and France, in addition to their decade-long culinary experiences around Australia, which includes an impressive history of working at places such as Hortas Restaurant, Mesa Lunga, Mexican Society, Hispanic Mechanic and most recently Lady Burra Brewhouse.
La Taberna has opened on Rundle Street (photo by Fatema SItabkhan)
The space that used to be known as Cocolat to long-term Adelaidians has been completely revamped to attract more of a younger audience, with their pops of colours that are pleasantly splattered through their decor, their walls, their furniture, (and even their food!), thereby creating a thoroughly Instagrammable spot in every nook and corner of the restaurant. Bright tabletops that are dressed in glossy red, blue, yellow, and pink tiles are accentuated by the sleek tan wooden fit-outs that hug the bar space. Two entrances to the restaurant - one from Rundle Street and the other from Ebenezer Place - let a ton of natural light pour into the space, thereby lighting it up and making it a fun hangout spot for friends to catch up at any point during the day. I think I spent around an hour and a half here, but spent a good 30 minutes simply marvelling at how many colours were incorporated into this cosy yet beautiful bar and kitchen!
The inviting space towards the back of the establishment (photo by Fatema Sitabkhan)
True to their name, the kitchen replicates the ambience of a taberna (Spanish for "tavern" or "bar"), where customers can enjoy a variety of dishes that are perfectly portioned to enjoy with an accompanying drink from the bar. Their menu of dishes is oozing with flavours from Portugal, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, Colombia, Brazil and Spain (to name a few) and even just thinking about these spices and flavours is making my mouth water! Options on the menu include paella, tacos, quesadillas, Cubanos, fish cakes and even Jalapenos that are stuffed with cream cheese that is wrapped with speck - I would love to go back and be game enough to try the last dish, however, on my last visit, we tried the prawn tacos and the pulled pork quesadillas and while it may sound like a small meal, it was just what we needed for a quick and satisfying pick-me-up for our peckish selves.
Seating area closer to Rundle Street (photo by Fatema Sitabkhan)
One thing that I have recently started noticing with restaurants' menus are that they deserve to be given more than 2 minutes of your time. I particularly loved how the menu at La Taberna had a crash course in learning the translations of certain words that are printed on the menu. You not only get to learn snippets of a new language, but you can actually understand what the menu incorporates - I don't know about you, but I absolutely despise the idea of having to sound ignorant and ask the wait staff what a certain dish is! So, this was a huge plus point for me!
The menu also has the option of the Taco Board - where you can make your own tacos with your choice of three toppings, along with condiments and corn chips! It almost feels like a social feast, where you can pick and choose exactly what you want and employ a collaborative approach with the head chefs to create something that exactly suits you! While I was quite full from my experience this time 'round, I cannot wait to go back to La Taberna[I/] to try this out with my friends and have a magical time putting some unusual yet interesting ingredients together.
The quesadillas de Satas with mushrooms, black beans, jalapenos, truffle oil, parmesan and pico de gallo was freshly made to present with a warm and tender first bite. There is a subtle spiciness to the dish that makes it exciting for the tastebuds and is a brilliant option for sharing tostadas with friends.
The Gambas with garlic shrimp, chipotle, aioli, and pico de gallo was another pleaser that incorporated a range of strong flavours that complemented each other and almost made me fall in love with the idea of consuming shrimp. I will admit, I was a bit hesitant to try it, but it turned out to be refreshing, thanks to the spices and herbs infused into the meat, which was tender and juicy.
The cocktails are shaken, stirred, and served right in front of you at their spacious bar, which is worth a watch, as they prepare your drink of choice! Not only do they taste delicious and are able to give you that subtle tipsy tingle, but they are also served with presentation on point! While the cocktail list includes signature and traditional options, the bar staff at La Taberna have given their drinks - bitter, sour, and fruity - a fun twist, so you can find options such as Pisco Sour, Mojitos, and Margaritas! Also, very important side note - La Taberna has over 12 types of tequila. Yes, 12. Just casually. No big deal (it's a very big deal)!
With the warmer weather seeping in quickly, this spot appears to be getting quite busy with after-work drinks and even bringing in customers who are out and ready to party the night away! Not a huge fan of cocktails? No dramas - the bar is fully stocked with wines and beers, including their own delicious beer such as La Taberna Cerveja and cider La Taberna Sidra.
It's 5 o'clock somewhere! (photo by Fatema Sitabkhan)
La Taberna is a bar and kitchen where friends and family can walk in and feel the Latino hospitality envelop them unconditionally, as they welcome you into their little but versatile abode. With in-house Latino music (Latin American and Latin European-inspired tunes) playing in the background, the fiesta vibe of the space is enhanced and delivers a pleasing dining experience - no matter what time of the day or night. It's nestled away enough that it can offer a quiet place for working whilst lunching, whilst simultaneously offering their customers with the ability to enjoy the hustle and bustle of city living, thanks to their prime spot along Rundle Street. If you decide to pop in on Friday or Saturday, you may even be treated to live Latino entertainment, and hopefully, if everything goes well, they also have plans to include Mexican, Cuban, and Peurto Rican salsa nights into the mix!
[I]La Taberna opened their doors on Rundle Street as of September 20, 2019 and is now operating 7 days a week, from 11:30am - late.