Hola, St Kilda! Radio Mexico

Much has been written about the explosion of Mexican eateries in Melbourne, and some are definitely better than others.

I travelled across town recently to try Radio Mexico and all I’ll say is that I’m jealous of the locals. JEALOUS.

Located just next to The Galleon in Carlisle St, this little taqueria is bound to charm you – casual, colourful and inviting.

I arrived early because we all know well enough by now that trying to get a table anywhere that doesn’t take bookings after about 6pm in Melbourne is about as pleasant as stabbing yourself in the eye with a cactus.

I was early enough in fact to have a good chat with the very friendly staff, who mentioned that despite being open just a short time, it feels like they have always been in the neighbourhood. Their prediction was that within the hour, the place would be jam-packed. Inside was quiet (ish) but outside, with a fireplace on the deck, which overlooks the taco-truck styled kitchen, it was already over half-full with punters enjoying a cerveza with their tortillas. In any case they were spot on. As my dining companion and I chowed down on spectacularly good tacos, oblivious to the building crowd behind us, when we turned around, the place was overflowing.

That brings me to the staff, who could not have been more pleasant, enthusiastic, and attentive. Despite people waiting for tables, there was no pressure at all, and we were encouraged to keep ordering tacos as long as we felt able to fit them in. They recommend you order your tacos one at a time, since they come out super-fast, and whilst you could be forgiven for thinking with a crowd this big you may be forgotten about when time came to order your next one, you would be dead wrong. We couldn’t fault it.

The tacos themselves were just bursting with fresh, crisp ingredients, and between us we sampled free range pork with jalapenos/black beans with avocado /bbq bugmeat with habanero slaw as well as street-style corn on the cob and a wonderful ceviche of rockling, ruby grapefruit and avocado.

We finished with the most DIVINE coconut icecream sundae with cajeta caramel and roasted coconut. Ariba! Which may or may not be Mexican for ‘do it’.

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Marmalade and a whole lotta Soul

Now HERE is a gem. Owned by Raymond Capaldi (renowned chef of many years repute both overseas and here in Melbourne, not least including co-owning Fenix, and now owner of the very fabulous Hare & Grace in Collins St), Marmalade and Soul is located on Queens Parade in Clifton Hill, a stone’s throw from Brunswick St.

The first thing that hits you, aside from the gorgeous fit-out (thankfully not too cliched, with some nice vintage touches, and cleverly-designed light shades made from colanders and other kitchen utensils, as well as an open kitchen and a fabulous communal table) is the incredible menu.

I’ve never seen anything like it, and I eat breakfast out alot. Probably way more than I should. In any case, apart from a few staples, and an offering for the kidlets of either googie-eggs with soldiers or Coco-Pops, we were in uncharted territory. It was impossible not to succumb to the adventure. Presented with such confidence, the sheer balls of it had me going ‘hell yes, I WILL have some scrambled eggs cooked in burnt butter with curry powder’. Thank God I did because that, my friends, was some curry, eggy goodness right there. It also probably didn’t hurt that our waitress was ridiculously lovely, friendly and FRENCH, which meant when she recited the specials <yes they also have breakfast specials> we asked her to do them again, just to hear her accent.

The coffee was SPLENDID. I think it’s worth saying that again. Splendid. So good, I had 3 piccolos and was pinging off my head by the time I left.

But back to breakfast. Between us we also tried the caramelised orange and olive cake, with burnt orange custard, and maple bacon, and the corned beef jaffle with baked beans and salted egg yolk marmalade. My brain hurt trying to think about how this was all going to work, but BAM! Out it all came, on beautifully mismatched vintage crockery, my heart just told me to go with it and my tastebuds happily followed. Everything was fabulous. Loved it all.

Friendly welcome: check. Great service: check. Awesome coffee: check. An utterly original menu that makes you go WHOOOOO! Checkmate.

Good god. After a truly spectacular lunch at Hare & Grace last week with my new food partner in crime, and now this breakfast magnificence, I’m officially a Ray Capaldi groupie. And considering he’s kinda like a rugged Billy Bob Thornton, that may not be bad thing. Unless of course, you’re my husband. Shhhh!

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