Authentic Mexican is quite possibly the one cuisine that is difficult to find in Melbourne's hallowed restaurant scene. For those of us whose forays into Central American food are yet to extend past the odd Old El Paso meal kit or knocking back a few fishbowl cocktails at Taco Bell, Los Amates restaurant is somewhat of a revelation. Situated in Johnston Street, Fitzroy's Hispanic district, Los Amates offers up authentic non-Americanised Mexican food just like they serve back in Mexico (not that I've actually been to Mexico but friends tell me that its pretty spot on).
As the Los Amates website states, "American influenced "Mexican" food has everyone believing that we just eat‚ "hard shell tortillas‚" with "chilli con carne‚" and heavily seasoned sauce with an all purpose seasoning or enchiladas with the one and only "use for everything‚" sauce. ... We do have a very ancient culture and traditions that deserve a little bit more respect, that includes our food. Just about every region in Mexico has different food and ingredients and ways of making their own traditional dishes."
Nowhere is this diversity more evident than in Los Amates' extensive menu. Gone are the tired, cheese-drenched cliches, to be replaced by fresh, spicy and inventive meals. A great option is to encourage your friends/lover to do a little bit of sharing and order a range of tacos for the table. A world away from the somewhat impractical crunchy variety, these tacos come with soft tortillas and a creative and unusual mix of fillings.
Papa con chorizo is a mix of potatoes, chorizo and onions served with green salsa, while Al Pastor is made up of grilled pork marinated with achiote sauce, spices and orange juice and served with pineapple, coriander, onions and hot salsa. If tacos aren't to your liking there are numerous other dishes to choose from, as well as a range of vegetarian options including the adventurous Nopales con Mole y Queso Blanco (cactus with black beans). The food certainly isn't light, so be warned.
I lived in Mexico for 4 years (in Queretaro) and can confirm that the food served at Los Amates IS definitely the real deal - just as tasty and fabulous as I remember. I miss Mexico but at least I don't have to miss the food or atmosphere. Los Amates rocks!
By bekx - reader Thursday, 28th of July @ 01:52 am
Your article is so entertaining to read that it makes me want to go there!
Wow, that food looks divine! You're right, it's so so hard to find decent Mexican food in Melbourne - it's either not really Mexican and comes straight out of a can or a box... And it's so often not as saucy as really tasty Mexican food is - when I eat Mexican I expect to leave covered to my elbows in condiments and chilli!