Paco y Lola is the latest restaurant to open at the South Melbourne Market dining strip that is livening up South Melbourne's food scene. With the Melbournian craze for Mexican cuisine showing no signs of slowing down, Paco y Lola adds some 'south of the border' flavour to the diverse Cecil St precinct that already boasts Chinese, Seafood, Spanish, and Turkish.
Soft shell crab tacos
Given the abundance of modern Mexican restaurants around the city, Paco y Lola is sure to be judged against some high standards. Thankfully for South Melbournians, their new local can hold its own. After some questioning from the two tequila enthusiasts with me, our waiter recommended a high-end tequila to start the night. As someone who views tequila as nightclub drink only to be ordered in the small hours of the morning, I was a bit sceptical of its possibilities as an aperitif. The tequila arrived in what looked like an extra-large shot glass, but I was quickly told to sip it slowly rather than slam it down. It was super smooth and a good complement to the guacamole appetiser.
Mexican corn on the cob, Paco y Lola style
To share between three people, we ordered a couple of tacos each (soft shell crab and chicken, $6 each), chilli con carne ($18, with rice), pork ribs with green mole and hominy rice pilaf ($25), some BBQ corn and a cactus salad. The portions are not huge, but even so, this was just a little too much food for three people. The richness of the meat dishes make them very filling.
A little piece of Mexico in South Melbourne
The standout dishes were the chili con carne which featured slow-cooked tender beef with a slight smoky taste, and the tacos with a good mix of fresh flavours.
Wait staff were very helpful and friendly. There was not much of a crowd on this Thursday night, so the atmosphere was lacking a little (we were one of only two tables at the time, although we did arrive quite late). However I have walked past at lunchtime on weekends when it was packed, so the Market shoppers have clearly taken to it.
With quality food at reasonable prices, Paco y Lola is a great addition to the Market and to South Melbourne.