Food For Thought - Muy bien: A taco-fuelled fiesta at Ricos Tacos stirs up old memories
By Aimee Chanthadavong
The Norfolk Hotel in Redfern will always have a special place in my heart – it’s where my now-husband and I shared our first kiss. I vividly remember we were out for Friday night drinks with workmates, both waiting at the bar for tequila shots when he briefly brushed his lips against mine.
Fast forward 10 years, and I’m standing back in the exact spot of the two-storey century-old corner venue. Except this time, the bar isn’t just a regular how-you-doing spot; it’s now home to Ricos Tacos, a Mexican restaurant that has developed a cult following since its food truck heyday.
Given the new theme of the venue, I couldn’t resist ordering a frozen pavlova colada, – a concoction of rum, strawberry, passionfruit, lime, coconut milk and macadamia milk – for a refreshing and fruity kickstart to a long-awaited girl’s night out. It's just the drink I needed as we settle into the taqueria’s fairy-lit courtyard painted in sunshine yellow and playful murals to enjoy the balmy spring weather, the ’90s rock music in the background and plenty of hot gossip.
I notice this Ricos Tacos menu is an expanded version of previous iterations, but I’m a creature of habit when ordering from a familiar venue. I opt for the classics: al pastor and crispy battered fish. Each palm-size taco arrives on a rainbow of plastic plates. The risk about eating these is spilling the fillings out of the corn tortilla shells before they reach my mouth and landing elsewhere. Fortunately, this time, I emerge unscathed with my white T-shirt spotless.
Although I’m tempted by the spiced chocolate ice-cream sandwich for dessert, I find myself back at the bar. But unlike my younger self a decade ago, I decided not to leave my order up to chance – or the bartender – to decide on my tequila brand. I select from the short sharp offering on the drinks list, landing with the Corralejo Gran Anejo. And being a little more grown-up, I’m not shooting it; I’m sipping it over ice and savouring every last drop of its soft, sweet and oaky flavour.
You need to order… the classic al pastor taco where pork is marinated in house-made adobo sauce, before it’s cooked slowly on the spit and shaved to order like a late-night kebab. It comes topped with super-ripe pineapple and a vibrant salsa verde.
It’s perfect for… a casual fun night out with a group of friends.
Look out for… Sunday asado when the chefs will charcoal grill meat and vegetables in the courtyard.