MELBOURNE | Jalisco Mexican in Windsor is named after the Mexican state which gave birth to many things that we associate with Mexico today – mariachi, tequila, and birria just to name a few. Husband and wife team Ali and Rebecca Kartel created Jalisco simply as a place where they could share their love of Mexican food with others, and to that point the menu contains a variety of interesting dishes. While authentic Mexican flavours are important at Jalisco, the place isn’t about authentic Mexican food per-se. The food is inspired by authentic Mexican dishes, Ali and Rebecca’s home cooking, current food trends, social media, staff, friends and customer preferences. The main thing is that the food tastes good, and the the customers enjoy it.
The space is colourful and casual – the inside is evocative of Mexico and features over 100 tequilas and mezcals lined up behind the bar, through the corridor is a cozy covered courtyard with street art on the walls, plants and fairy lights, and upstairs is a large dining/function space. For drinks, it’s hard to go past either straight tequila – the good stuff is designed to sip slowly, or one of the many margaritas – we like the ‘Sombrero’, a mixture of tequila, triple sec, peach and strawberry liqueur, and lime. There is a small wine list, featuring mostly local drops, however beer drinkers may be disappointed by the exclusively commercial lager offering – we’d love to see Two Birds Taco beer on the list.
Ingredients are sourced locally where possible, often from nearby Prahran Market and South Melbourne Market. The things that aren’t possible to source locally include many spices which are hard to find anywhere outside of Mexico. The menu truly does feature a bit of everything – tacos, burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, and a decent selection of starters. The slightly charred street corn, slathered with chipotle mayo, queso fresco, and lime is a great choice to start proceedings. The quesedillas are also worth a look at, with well balanced flavours a nice lack of oiliness, although the salsa that they are served with isn’t quite up to scratch, lacking the freshness that we usually expect. We suspect that the tomatoes were the culprit here, which is odd as later dishes featured the most beautifully tasty tomatoes.
Tacos are a mixed bag – the tiger prawn tacos with cabbage, pico, and chilli-lime mayo are outstanding, and also tasty are the chorizo, feta, rocket, black bean, and pico tacos. The pulled pork taco is a letdown, with the sweetness of the pineapple overpowering all the other flavours, including the nicely tender pork – a bit of tweaking and this could be a winner.
Moving onto more substantial dishes, and this is where the highlight of the menu can be found. The fajitas feature char grilled meat or vegetables sauteed with capsicum and onion, served with Mexican rice, salad leaves, guacamole and four flour tortillas. This Tex Mex favourite has a few options for fillings, but based on the delicious taco we’d just enjoyed, we opted for the tequila-lime tiger prawns. A short while later a sizzling cast iron dish was presented to us, with smoky aromas rising from the food. After a few hits and misses, we were hoping that this final dish was going to fall into the former category and it did. The tiger prawns were perfectly cooked with a beautiful charred flavour, the guacamole nice and thick, while the capsicum and tomatoes had just the right level of sweetness and were super fresh. The Mexican rice, perfectly cooked, with just the right level of firmness to each grain. This is a dish we’d return for.
It’s a bit hard to get a gauge of what Jalisco Mexican is all about when reading through reviews and blog posts on the internet. Many talk of how it’s an authentic Mexican restaurant, but that doesn’t really describe things accurately. The menu features a bit of everything – authentic Mexican, Tex Mex, and dishes that have been tweaked for local tastes based on customer feedback. If you visit Jaliso expecting purely authentic Mexican dishes you’ll be disappointed. If you know what to expect and order wisely, and you’ll have a very enjoyable meal here, with friendly service and a great atmosphere helping enhance the experience.
69 Chapel Street
Telephone: (03) 9510 9800
Sun – Thu: 5:30pm to 11:00pm
Fri – Sat: 5:30pm to 1:00am