Rejoice… good Mexican food exists !!
Just recently I was lamenting as to the state of “Mexican” food in this city, or any city for that matter. I was musing that it would be a sad indictment on Mexican culture if the pinnacle expression of their cuisine was to be found in a greasy burrito smothered with sour cream and ‘tasty’ cheese, with an indiscernible concoction of meat and bean filling.
Alas, this was my experience of Mexican restaurants. I’ve tried Pancho’s, Acapulco Annies, Santa Fe, and numerous other places that can only really be described as Tex Mex nastiness, that no amount of cheap margaritas and dodgy sangria will ever wash down.
That was until we came across “That Little Mexican Place”. We got the hot tip from some friends who had been there recently and described it as delicious and unassuming, and definitely out of the ordinary when it comes to Mexican restaurants.
My interest piqued, it was time to pay a visit.
That Little Mexican Place is located on Fitzgerald St in North Perth, in what might soon become a small hub of restaurants and bars. It’s up the road from the Rosemount, and in amongst a couple of other Chinese restaurants and Kebab shops, and I’m certain if I didn’t know it was there I would have missed it.
The owners traveled to Mexico prior to opening the restaurant, and attended some kind of cooking school, which means that the dishes they are serving are at least based on authentic (there’s that word again) Mexican dishes, and where possible made with local equivalents or ingredients sourced from Mexico.
The restaurant itself seems a little awkward to me, the tables and cutlery are ridiculously big for the space they have, and it feels a little bit Ma and Pa’ish when you walk in and have to squeeze past people to get to the front to indicate you’d like a table, and then feels vaguely like the kebab shop next door when you need to loiter around outside waiting for a table to be free. Personally speaking (in my capacity as a completely unqualified restaurant consultant), I’d be making the tables much smaller, and arranging things better so as to make better use of the space, which I think could fit at least 12 more people at once.
Perhaps the number of people is how they’d like it for now though, as there seems to be an air of “still working things out” hanging over the place.
That’s not to detract from the food however. Everything we ordered was great. We started off with the nachos de napolita which were (from the menu) “an individual serve of tortilla chips topped with sautéed mushroom, chayote and cactus and oxacan style cheese”. It was in fact one big nacho with a tasty mixture of the cactus, chayote, and mushroom on top… and was not dripping with cheese or sour cream and sprinkled with spring onion (as I was dreading).
Along with the dishes, there is a complimentary trio of salsas served at frequent intervals during the meal. They were a roast chili salsa, a salsa verde, and another one I’ve forgotten that name of… but I think it was tomato based. They came in handy for dipping and spooning over basically everything… and as soon as we’d used one up a fresh bowl arrived to replace it.
For mains Sharon had the mole negro, which was “roasted chicken breast and a sweet, dark sauce of chilies, spices, nuts, seeds and Mexican chocolate, served with banana chips”. I got a few tastes of that before it was devoured and it was nice. Great flavours combining together with the chocolate and the chicken were not strange at all.
I chose the barbacoa de Borrego “slow roasted lamb in oregano and mexican chilies”, another fantastic dish, combining the lamb and spices together beautifully.
We finished up the night with some churros, and sopapillas. Both great Mexican desserts of deep fried dough dipped in cinnamon and sugar and served with chocolate sauce.
All in all we had a fantastic meal. I’m not sure if it was because I couldn’t get over how non “Tex Mex” the food was, and how sincere and unpretentious the service was, but I was left with a definitely impression that these guys are trying their hardest to distinguish their food apart from the greasy masses of deep fried cheese topped Mexicana slop bucket places.
Definitely go in and give them a try if you want to experience something a little different.
That Little Mexican Place
382 fitzgerald street
phone: 08 9227 5755