Bianca: Before I found my one true love = burgers, I was all about that Mexican life. I was the most loyal ‘Guera’ around. Flitting between my then favourite Mexican joints, Baja Cantina and Flying Fajita Sisters in Glebe.
After checking out GoodTime Burgers a few weeks back, we were drawn to the idea of a rooftop bar/Mexican joint. All within the Westfield complex. And yes, while sometimes my snobbery knows no bounds EL TOPO MEXICAN is one restaurant not to dismiss based solely on its locale in a shopping complex.
The fit-out is part beachside shack/day of the dead with gorgeously tiled tabletops. It would be fairly easy to lose a few hours, shooting the breeze under a gorgeous summer evening. But it was rainy during our visit so we moseyed on over to the best natural light we could get our hands on.
If you’re expecting Tex-mex or greasy cheese laden burritos then you’re going to be disappointed. The food is fresh, punchy and if you’re so inclined you can get on the turps with a wide selection of Tequila based cocktails and beverages. Wanting to dedicate all dineros to the chewable ingestibles, we bypassed the alcohol and dove straight into the food menu.
No Mexican meal is complete without chips and guac, enter Totopos Y Guacamole $9, addictive chips with well-seasoned guacamole – I do prefer the addition of diced tomato and fresh red onion as it does add both flavour and texture and it’s just how mumma FFS makes it at home.
We didn’t know what to expect when we ordered the Platanos Fritos (fried plantains) $6. Plantains are a great source of potassium and dietary fibre which is exactly what I’ll tell my GP after I overdose on fried food, namely these. Fried to a crisp, making for a great alternative to corn chips and the Eastern suburbs crowd will love munching on something that makes them feel both alternative and super special. And a great dipping vessel for the guac.
I’m a bread and cheese whore, preferring them together in the neat tidy package in the form of Quesadillas. Not smothered in cheese but equally delicious, was the Spicy Beef Quesadilla – shredded slow cooked beef, onion, jalapeno, salsa verde and queso oaxaqueno $16. Packing a moderate wallop but balanced out by the salsa verde and creamy queso.
The Watermelon Salad – w/cucumber, caramelised onion dressing, chilli salt, mint and queso fresco $10 was a perfectly light and refreshing salad to accompany the somewhat heavier elements ordered. There was an unexpected heat which worked so well against the watermelon.
The menu is rather flexible in that you can go for a full blown meal or opt for more of a shared approach. I haven’t had decent tacos for some time so we went the shared route, with two each of the four available tacos.
In order of the tables, universal favourites. The Taco De Polli Frito – Southern fried chicken, radish, corn, coriander salsa & chipotle mayo $6 ea. Fried chicken is always going to be a winner, juicy succulent breast encased within a crispy batter. Corn kernels were great for some added sweetness.
The Taco De Cordeo – Adobo spice roasted lamb with ranch slaw, arbol chilli and jalapeno salsa $6 ea. – the protein was really the star here, super tender lamb with prominent notes of paprika which, paired with the arbol chilli did have a kick.
The last two were a tie for me. I’ve majorly gone off pulled pork lately but I was slightly brought back to the porcine force because this was so tasty. The Taco De Cerdo Y Chipotle – smoked pork shoulder, slow roasted with BBQ rojo, ranch slaw and pineapple salsa $6 ea. I’ll be honest, I love pineapple but it didn’t come through at all for me. Still a very strong offering. And lastly the Taco De Jaibas Y Jalapeno – Soft shell crab, mulato mayo, jalapeno and cactus salsa $6 ea. Whilst tasty, it didn’t have any strong overall flavourings that would have me order it again. Across the board I loved the soft corn tortillas, big thumbs up.
And no meal is complete without dessert, namely chocolate. We couldn’t go past the Bunuelos Con Chocolate – Mexican doughnuts with chocolate sauce $12. These were divisive, I loved them but the others didn’t. Crumbly and unlike other doughnuts I have come across, they appeared to have a light coating on the exterior and the faint aroma of cinnamon. They did have a perplexing after-taste but not an unpleasant one and mixed with the dark chocolate sauce it was a dessert right up my alley.
I really can’t recommend El Topo enough, cool place for drinks and great Mexican food.
Photos by Alex