Who: Paco y Lola
Where: South Melbourne Market, Stall 99, Cecil Street, South Melbourne 3205
When: Open Wednesday to Sunday, varying hours
Why: Authentic Mexican food with friendly service and a buzzing atmosphere
This small place in South Melbourne Market has big personality and will draw you in with the sounds and smells of Mexico and leave you desperate to book a trip to experience the real thing.
Food: Their large menu has something for every Mexican food-lover from enchiladas to nachos and quesadillas. You can customise them with fillings of your choice and they have mild options for those of you who prefer less spice in your taco. I opted for Tacos De Carnitas because the words slow cooked and crispy pork belly instantly catch my eye and, served with grilled pineapple, a crunchy slaw and green pinian sauce, they were delightful and filling. Two was enough if I’m honest but I still decided to try the special pulled pork taco because…you know, pulled pork. Debbie had Quesadillas de Chorizo y Papas which were lovely and she seemed happy with them, although the flavours didn’t burst in my mouth like my pineapple and pork combination had.
Drinks: Ever the beer lover, Debbie asked the waiter for the most popular Mexican beer which turned out to be Pacifico Clara, a fresh pale ale. He suggested she drink it Mexican style with lime and a salt and chilli rim. Always wanting to try everything once, she agreed and it was so wonderfully fresh and a little spicy all at once that even I, the most vehement of beer haters, enjoyed my tiny sip. I opted for the safe bet of a cider which went really well with my pork.
All in all: Although the food was delicious in its own right, it was the atmosphere that made this place stand out for me. I have eaten at many a Mexican restaurant but this is the first place to make me lust after a trip across the Pacific to this colourful (and tasty) country. The service was outstanding and the music, smell and bustling atmosphere of the place made me feel energised after a long day and I left with a big smile plastered on my foodie face.
Great atmosphere whether you’re in a big group or on a date
Wait staff gave great service
Extensive menu with something for everyone, even kiddies
Good choice of drinks
A little hard to find amongst the rest of South Melbourne Market
Not as cheap as some other vendors at the market but also not extortionate