That Little Mexican Place

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
North Perth

phone: 08 9227 5755
www.thatlittlemexicanplace.com.au

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17 thoughts on “That Little Mexican Place”

  1. Wow – now I can’t wait to go and try this one. We tried to get a booking there last week but with 10 people we left it too late – and ended up at the Mexican Kitchen in Freo which was stuffy, dingy and noisy as well as slop-bucket.

    I used to love Acapulco Annies – both the one in Tuart Hill and the now closed one in South Perth – even though they were typical Tex Mex they used to be quite good. But early last year I went again, after not going for a long time, and the food was average and the service was even worse.

    Have you tried Zapata’s in Fremantle? They claim to be Mexican and Latin American so that might be ok too.

    Of course, the best chili in the entire state is at my place :P

  2. Hey Matt,

    I’ve heard real good things about this place and some friends have eaten there and liked it a lot. Obviously you did too so will have to try and get there someday. You’re right about it hard finding Mexican places that offer more than the usual food slapped on with sauce.

  3. nice review matt. ever since I went to mexico I’ve been longing for a decent mexican joint to open in oz. looks like I need to plan a trip to perth

  4. Yes, Mexico is really the only place you can get the real deal. I loved it when I was there. Brisvegas is the same. Not a good Mexican place around that I have tried. Mexico was a real eye opener for me. The poverty and the begging children on the streets really got to me. When you cross the border from San Diego into Tijuana you feel like you have crossed into a warzone. It really made me appreciate how lucky we are at home here in Australia.

  5. Glad you people enjoyed the review… I’ve since learned a few more interesting things about Mexico, making it a spot I’d love to travel to in the not to distant future… But then everywhere is somewhere I’d like to go… one day…

  6. I had one of the most dismal meals I’ve ever had in my life at this restaurant! I thought the food was utterly bland and lacked the robust flavours of traditional Mexican food. Two big thumbs down from me :(

  7. Are you sure you went to the same place I did ? Because the meal I had was anything but bland… still, I guess everyone had different expectations. I went in simply hoping not to get a plate full of deep fried cheese and corn chips… So I was pretty happy, and the salsas served were great for spicing up anything that may have been lacking…

    Where have you tried better traditional Mexican food (aside from Mexico) ?

  8. Definitely the same place, I’m afraid! I went in with about the same expectations as you did, Matt, so was gutted to be disappointed on an entirely different level. I developed a taste for this cuisine after experiencing some mind-blowing mexican food in New York, recommended by a Mexican-born friend who lives there. Since it’s all Tex Mex crap here, I now pretty much rely on cooking my own. Don’t pretend to be an expert, but I’m getting better :) There’s some fantastic recipes at http://www.zarela.com/recipes.html if anyone is interested in trying a bit at home.
    I have found That Little Mexican Place has really polarised people. I have spoken to people like myself and my partner who found the food very blah, and have also spoken to people who LOVED it. It’s very 50/50. Because of this, I have decided to give it another go… it could have just been a very bad night after all (the service was pretty dismal too, but I have heard others rave about it).

  9. In Mandurah Outlaws Mexican Restaurant offers authentic Mexican food and the best thing is the Chef is Mexican born in Guadulajara Mex the Chef has been offering the Peel region real Mexican food. Luis moved to Perth 5 years ago and is the only Qualified Mexican Chef in WA. Go to Outlaws you will not be disappointed in being served the best food from the best in WA

  10. Hi Gwen,

    Just reading back over this and wondering why I missed it the first time, and then realised it’s because it sounds like a press release. What does a qualified Mexican chef mean ? He’s a qualified chef from Mexico ? Or he’s got a special certificate from someone that says he’s allowed to cook Mexican food ?

  11. Ha ha – I thought the same thing Matt. I’ve eaten at That Little Mexican Place twice – the first time I absolutely loved it, the second time I thought the dishes were a bit dry. We’ll definitely go again though, when the weather warms up – it’s a summer kind of place in my opinion! The style of cooking there really inspired me to up the ante when it comes to making Mexican dips (my husband is addicted) and I now make a pretty mean Chilli con Queso – rich and garlicky. And I love those blue corn “surf” chips.

  12. Hey Linda,

    I can’t say I’ve been in a while either, as the lovely Anna at The Flying Taco seems to fill my need for Mexican quite well. Still do rate That Little Mexican Place highly though…although if I could make my own chilli con queso it may be less alluring…

  13. I went to That little mexican resturant (vic park) and I believe that was terrible … small portion in each dish and so expensive … the test was nothing special . The pitty part was when they brough us a dish which no one ordered and they charged us for that stupid dish !!! 16$ for snack and deep (avacado + tomato) . I would say the test was not speciall too .. I don’t recommend it to any body

    1. Hi Hanieh, sorry to hear that. I haven’t been to the Vic Park one, and this review from the North Perth shop is pretty old now too… So might need a redo. Mexican food is a tough one in Perth, perhaps check out the Flying Taco for some simple but tasty dishes.

  14. We ate at the Vic Park one a couple of months ago, and enjoyed it. The guacamole was made tableside with beautiful fresh avocado. I don;t recall exactly what we had for mains, but I know I had some kind of beef, which once again, was fresh and tasty. The expectation seems to be that Mexican food should be in your face and spicy and salty and cheap. Why should a good piece of beef be cheaper in a “Mexican” restaurant than anywhere else?

    1. I’ll have to go back and try it Linda. My main issue with Mexican food in Perth is that it’s just variations on fajitas, burritos, and enchiladas… covered in some nondescript tomato sauce and loaded with cheese.

      I liked TLMP initially because the flavours were fresh and vibrant and the menu did a lot more justice to how Mexcian food can be. I’ve heard not so great things about service and quality from both places recently though, so can’t really say how things are going now.

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