If there is one annoying character trait I find in regards to dining out it would be that I dislike bandwagon jumping for the latest restaurant opening. I actively avoid quite a lot of new places in the first weeks because of this. El Loco was one such place, there was so much blogger attention during the first few months I just didn’t want to go. Now if we fast-forward a few years (oops) it was time to make my maiden voyage.
Being quite the Mexican food lover I was torn between what to get. Should I load up on $5 tacos or mix and match my way to a more comprehensive sampling? Knowing we had quite a big day of eating and drinking ahead of us I opted for a couple of tacos and a quesadilla, nothing too crazy but at least it had some diversity.
Chorizo Quesadilla – Chorizo, jalapeño and cheese quesadilla with chipotle mayo ($6.00).
The decision of what to eat first once the food arrived was made easy with the quesadilla served hot and the tacos not so much. It was exactly as advertised, both the chorizo and jalapeños wrapped tightly in melted cheese and the tortilla browned and crisp. The cheese, while not offering a huge amount in the flavour department, really hit the spot on the texture front – oozy and melted keeping everything in place. Although the pickled jalapeños were likely not house made I was still a fan. But it was the paprika front and centre in the chorizo (house made or not) that made it all work and when charred – as this was – everything just popped. Without the mayo it was good, with the mayo even better as it added some moisture to combat the slight dryness.
Al Pastor – spit roasted pork, pineapple salsa, cabbage, coriander, spring onions, salsa verde and pico de gallo ($5.00).
Somewhat bucking the trend of pulled pork the guys at El Loco do their pork a bit differently and to good effect. Cubes of fried spit roasted pork replaced juicy pulled pork and for me it went down a treat; pork is a wonderful ingredient and I love seeing it cooked in different ways. Just like the quesadilla it was the sauces that pulled this together and the added sweetness of the pineapple worked well to offset the spice of the pork to make quite a nice taco.
Carne Asada – lemongrass beef, queso fresca, cabbage, coriander, spring onions, salsa verde and pico de gallo ($5.00).
Beef is usually my go-to in all but Mexican (with pork holding that spot) and I was hoping for something amazing that could take pork down a notch or two. It was actually the queso fresco that I noticed first with its unique texture and a mild but distinctive taste but for me the beef was a little bit underwhelming when expecting Mexican flavours. I felt the lemongrass and spice blend made it more suited to a san choy bow with the overarching sweetness and lemongrass freshness than a taco. Not a bad little taco but not something I’d bother ordering again.
Camaron – prawn, cabbage, coriander, spring onions, salsa verde and pico de gallo ($5.00).
Lex’s taco choice was the prawn number, and it was definitely a wise decision. First and foremost the prawns were awesome, grilled and slightly charred but not overcooked at all. Both the Lime and coriander dominated in a good way as they matched the grilled prawns so well. While the prawns on their own were a tad dry it was the salsa verde and pico de gallo that brought moisture and wrapped this up into a super tasty taco. The char gave the prawns a great barbecued flavour to ensure they stayed front and centre in the flavour stakes, making this one to order again.
One thing worth mentioning is the tortillas, I am quite a fan of the El Loco version and they reminded me of the ones we have eaten in the US. White corn tortillas are my favourite of the bunch and it was quite satisfying eating them again. My one gripe is with the taco filling being so liquidy they fall apart easily and you tend to make quite a lot of mess. I would love it if they did what we saw in the US and use two tortillas per taco to ensure it all stays together and you are not left scrambling for napkins or making a trip to the washrooms to clean taco stains from your clothing.
Overall I enjoyed El Loco, perfectly casual with cheap and easy food that ticks all the boxes for the cuisine. Next time I need to try the mystery taco because, well, why not? It could be the most amazing taco of my life or something completey opposite, but that’s all the fun. Other than my gripes about the mess factor I feel there is nothing bad to say about the place, it’s almost as cheap as it gets, the food is tasty and the atmosphere is relaxed.
64 Foveaux Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9211 4945
El Loco Website