I greatly dig the fact that over the last year or two we've had some pretty good Mexican restaurants opening up around town. There was a period of time in my early twenties when I was absolutely cray cray for Mexican and would regularly head to Pancho's in Victoria Park or Mexican Kitchen in Fremantle. I remember once upon a time when the Mexican dining choices we had in Perth were fairly limited to these establishments and also the likes of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (hello, blast from the past!) and Acapulco Annie's.
I'm glad that going out to eat Mexican no longer means overly cheesey and sour cream laden tacos that are more about the heat rather than the actual flavours of the spices. Pancho's is no longer my Mexican of choice.
Most would be familiar with El Publico in Mount Lawley and La Cholita in Northbridge, both serving dishes designed to be shared and possessing some pretty impressive alcohol menus. Both also do not take bookings which is somewhat of a bugbear of mine. Sometimes you can't wait around for an hour or two (or even more) hoping that you will be bestowed with the blessing of a table.
Big El's Latin American Fusion (we shall call him Big El for short) is new kid in the playground, taking up residence in the location once occupied by Sake Bar on Francis Street in Northbridge. I actually don't know what the deal is with bookings but we were there for a function and there was no problem with having a booking for that accepted. I don't know if that may be different for smaller groups of diners.
My friend's partner was celebrating his entrance into a new decade and I was helping her with organizing a special surprise birthday dinner for him while they were living it up at Marina Bay Sands. I love organizing events though. I even start thinking about my own birthday months and months in advance. Sometimes I think event and party planning would be something I could do and then I think about having to deal with crazy pedantic people. I'm a crazy pedantic person. I don't know if I'd want to deal with me if I wasn't me.
From the time I contacted Big El's they were really helpful in accommodating me as well as giving some good advice in terms of how to organize the food orders. Before settling on Big El's I had contacted a few other places and it's pretty disappointing that some did not even get back to me. What actually made me think of suggesting Big El's to my friend is that I had heard of the place because I knew they had their artwork done by Perth artist Joseph Boin AKA Destroy so that in itself gave it some brownie points from the outset.
On the night there was 18 of us, and we were seated at the back of the restaurant. There is a separate elevated dining area on one side that I assume is also used for private functions and group bookings and booth style seating along the other side. It was a Wednesday night and fairly busy, however the staff were attentive and the service could not be faulted.
Their menu is also designed to be shared and for starters we ordered a few serves each of the chorizo chiplets, elotes callejeros (street corn), nacho bowls and tortilla chiplets which we had served with chilli con queso and guacamole. We did not order it, but they have a Mexican hot dog on their menu and the description of it alone makes me want it. Do yourself a favour and head to their website and check it out for yourself. I love a bit of innuendo and smut. Actually, don't check it out if smut is not your thing.
These starters came out quickly and we enjoyed them while quenching our thirst with their skulls of mixed spirits. We ordered a couple of skulls of Hendricks gin and tonic and Grey Goose vodka and cranberry. The skulls are enough for five drinks and are priced at $35. We also ordered some jugs of lime and mango frozen margaritas which are made with Patron tequila, with these priced at $24. The margaritas were yummy but I was a bit sad as I was expecting an actual jug but they were served in something more like a carafe, which dashed the vision in my mind of drinking from a communal jug with multiple straws. I won't hold that against them though.
|They call me Hendricks Lamar|
To follow the starters were tacos. There are four different fillings you can choose from, which are crispy chicken, slow cooked pulled beef, ginger salmon and black bean. We went with the chicken, beef and salmon. They had a lot of different sauces and because we ordered so many tacos we were able to have each of the sauces. I really like the idea of building your own taco and being able to choose your desired filling, sauce and salsa. Oh, we had the mango and jalapeno and tomato and garlic salsas. That mango salsa was so good.
I found the salmon to be on the dry side, but other than that I enjoyed all of the food. It definitely has the flavour as well as the heat - if you want it. It's not just chilli, chilli and more chilli but no real flavour. The chilli con queso dip was so very yummy, and the guacamole is made for you at the table. Or you can do it yourself if you wish. The pulled beef was my favourite of our filling choices. As you should expect with any slow cooked meat, it was very tender and full of flavour.
|Oh Lord Jesus, it's a fire!|
At the end of the night they served the birthday boy a special birthday drink on the house, which was very nice of them. It was massive! It came out on fire! It is called Down the Rabbit Hole on their menu, but I'm not sure ordinarily if it's as big as they made it for him.
|Like a knife through the heart! If you're wondering about the message on the cake it's a reference to a hip hop classic.|
The total bill came to just over $600, which I think is pretty damn good considering we were all full at the end of the night and had ordered quite a few of the skulls and jugs. I definitely will return to Big El's as there's a few other items on the menu I'd like to try, the smutty hot dog being at the top of the list.
Oh and here I am. What did I wear? I was Bruug'd out, in their Island top and Nightowl skirt. Check the clutch, it's my Hustle Bag which I received a couple of weeks ago and LOVE! I will write a post about the greatness of the Hustle Bag soon, but for now, ladies you definitely should get one. No more low battery!