Food and Drink
Posted by Nola James
23. Jan, 2012
It makes perfect sense, if you are a slightly hippy Californian living in Melbourne, to name your Cal-Mex restaurant ‘Gringo Vibes Mexican Cantina’. It also makes sense to line the walls with Marley record covers and play dub-step and reggae. Trust me, it just works.
This tiny taquería-cum-restaurant seats only 24 so get in early, but if you can’t handle the crowds there’s always takeaway. Cal-Mex, if you’re wondering, is what happened to Mexican food after the Californians were done with it. Helloooo tangerine wall paint, hot sauce, cacti and plastic-covered stripy tablecloths matched with sour cream and orange cheese.
The humble tortilla, the most sustaining basic food of Mexico, is the hero here. Every meal features them and none will set you back more than $15, so you could comfortably sustain yourself fairly frequently.
Enchiladas are served modern American casserole style. Who cares if they’re not ‘proper’ enchiladas. They’re frickin delicious. Next, flour tortilla quesadillas are filled with chicken, steak or veggies and a generous portion of Monterey Jack (oh so Cali) then toasted into crispy, melting heaven alongside sides of refried beans, rice and guacamole.
Tacos come gluten free friendly, as they should. One serve will net you two soft corn tortillas with a chicken, steak or veggie filling (see a theme emerging) but we hear the fish tacos are the house specialty. Burritos are in a league of their own – these San Francisco styled beauties are the size of a rolled up newspaper, come stuffed with protein and carbohydrates and served with fresh corn chips (fried in-house but sadly not to order).
Gringo Vibes is open 6 days from 12-10pm, and so we advise you to sleep off your hangover on the weekend then head in for all-day huevos rancheros or a breakfast burrito (gross, I know, but it will cure what ails you). Or just have tacos for breakfast. It’s perfectly acceptable.
In addition to the current fashion for all things Mexican, please also be grateful for the rise in the availability of Mexican beer – more options finally proving once and for all that Corona is nothing but imitation beer flavoured water. $5 will net you a can of Baja Peninsula favourite Tecate. Coopers Pale is on hand, if only to remind you that you’re still in Australia and there’s tempranillo, tequila and margaritas of course.
Sadly the coke is not Mexican.
Gringo Vibes Mexican Cantina
489 High Street Northcote
03 9013 8543
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