Eight of Sydney’s favourite Mexican eats
Get your spicy flavour fix — and by spicy, we don’t just mean the food. Hello, jalapeño margaritas — at the best Mexican restaurants in Sydney.
By Hayley Peppin
IF THERE’S EVER a place to get in a Mexicoma outside the vibrant country, it’s in Sydney. It’s something about the city’s sunshine combined with its salty beach culture that calls for our quench to be refreshed by way of cocktails — margaritas to be precise — and our tummies to be filled with light, punchy and fresh ingredients. And Mexican couldn’t be a more satisfying solution to nourish our summer bodies.
In recent years, Sydney’s Mexican scene has flourished. What was once a few clichéd restaurants sporting all the Tex Mex frills and trills and atypical burritos, has diversified to a strong and modern array of authentic Mexican cuisine. Don’t worry this grown-up edition of restaurants does include fan favourite appetisers and meals like guacamole and quesadillas but with a few Mexican twists … which of course includes a mountain of chilli and pop of jalapeños.
Spice up your summer Saturday with our eight favourite Mexican joints across the harbour city.
El Primo SanchezPaddington
One of latest inclusions to Sydney’s vibrant Mexican scene is El Primo Sanchez. “Named for the long-lost cousin who always leads you astray,” El Primo Sanchez is a Mexican cocktail bar right next door to boutique Paddington hotel Oxford House. Spearheaded by head chef Alejandro Huerta, the menu reflects the punchy flavours of Mexican street food while fusing unexpected ingredients. Expect a sumptuously modernised patatas bravas featuring chorizo con papas as well as tacos filled with salsa guacamolada and kangaroo meat. The flavour explosion continues with creatively concocted tequila and mezcal and cocktails and the dance-floor is only steps away. El Primo Sanchez even has a pint-sized karaoke room beneath a canopy of disco balls. It’s a little fun, a lot of fiesta — and fabulously tasty.
27-33 Oxford St, Paddington, Sydney
El LocoSurry Hills
We’d be loco not to include this one. Considered one of Merivale’s best, this casual and colourful venue is attached to a Surry Hills pub and often radiates the raucousness of an authentic Mexican bar. Visit for the drinks, their Margarita slushie is a summer stand-out, and take delight in the food … and reasonable prices. El Loco’s signature dishes, however, include its “tacos secretos,” which like the name presents a variety of “secreto” tacos. Each filling is a flavourful surprise and just $7 per taco.
64 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills & 111 Sussex Street, Sydney,
Casa MeridaPotts Point
Housed in perhaps the most unexpected setting, this Mayan-inspired eatery is full of surprises. However, the Potts Point terrace isn’t completely left-of-centre given Casa Merida’s co-owner Pablo Galinda Vargas was after a space somewhat reminiscent of the grand European-style architecture of Merida — once one of the wealthiest cities in the world. The 70-seat fine diner, which only opened in October, offers highly-specialised Mexican spirits which “can be found nowhere else in Australia.” This includes imported mezcal from Indigenous communities in Mexico. Casa Merida plates up a plethora of traditional dishes from the Yucatan Peninsula — including cricket-laced guacamole, potato gratin with guajillo chillies, and octopus tacos. But co-owner Pablo Galinda Vargas recommends the cochinita pibil (Mayan-style slow-cooked smoked pork) for any Mayan newcomers.
1/5 Kellett Street, Potts Point
MejicoPitt Street, CBD
Mejico is a tasty treat, twice-over. Following Melbourne’s 2020 lockdown, the team behind Mejico opened yet another in the Victorian capital. But personally, we still think the OG joint on Pitt Street is the place to be. Founded back in 2013, Mejico Sydney combines the flavours of Mexico with Latin America, serving up market fresh ingredients — without the casualness of street food dining. Try their smashed avo (or guacamole) — which is literally smashed on your table — or their Wagyu Beef Rump with jalapeño jus and burnt pepper. Diners with a penchant for bottomless style meals can also indulge in Margarita Mondays and Sangria Saturdays for special beverage deals.
105 Pitt Street, Sydney
So CalNeutral Bay
SoCal is just so good. The North Shore eatery has one of Sydney’s best beer gardens and, as the name suggests, is a fusion of Cali and Mexican culture. Founded by the owners of Bondi Hardware and The Botantist, Hamish Watts and Ben Carroll began their beach chic joint following a Californian surfing trip together. The result? A light and airy venue with a MexiCali menu designed to share. Expect fresh flavours and seafood like kingfish tiradito alongside ‘low’n’slow’ smoked meats, house-made sauces and freshly indulgent sides. SoCal also, gratifyingly, has a 2am license — so you don’t have to guzzle down the margs during a later seating service.
1 Young Street, Neutral Bay
Barangaroo is undoubtedly one of Sydney’s most buzzing waterfront dining precincts; and in October they added their next flavourful addition, Tequila Daisy. Initially, teasing locals with takeaway tacos during lockdown, the bright taqueria has been serving up both authentic tunes — yes a full trumpet and guitar Mariachi band plays some evenings — and delicious food. The 200-seater packs a flavour punch harmoniously marrying traditional Mexican flavours and cooking techniques with freh and local produce. There’s an assortment of tacos to choose from and a variety of banquet-style meals for groups or those who just want a little bit of everything. We understand. Tequila Daisy, whose name and motif is a reference to the Spanish translation of “Margarita” also has an extensive drinks menu with over 100 mezcals and tequilas to choose from. Dangerous, but oh so good.
It’s a Paddington institution with a knack for tequila. To be precise, 34 different types of tequila from across the globe — but the Five Ways venue is anything but your average drinking den. Blending Latin American cuisine with the flavour hits of Mexico, this hybrid restaurant and bar produces some of the most contemporary and cutting-edge Latino meals while utilising classic Aussie ingredients. A raw bar delivers the surf with ceviche, hiramasa kingfish tiradito and wagyu beef tartare. While on the turf side, diners can enjoy alpaca empanadas or lamb shoulder with red chimmichurri. And when Sydney blesses us with that glorious sunshine, the two-story 200-seater venue opens its delightful courtyard and garden — as well as retractable roof — for optimal sundown cocktails.
6 Heeley Street, Paddington
There’s no greater place to chow down on some succulent seafood than at Bondi. And thankfully, Calita offers both world-class scenic views and the freshest local Mexican-style seafood. The teeny 26-seat space offsets luxe beach bar vibes both aesthetically and with its small yet sophisticated menu. Inspired by the Baja Peninsula, expect an assortment of tacos as well as larger mains like blue swimmer crab tostadas and fiery chilli tiger prawns. Those with a sweet tooth can also indulge in homemade churros with an Australian spin — a complementary macadamia and Dulce de leche ice cream. On the drinks front, Calita offers four kinds of Margaritas, a refreshing and sweet mango one included, to aptly wash down the spice.