Crunchy corn tortilla chips (totopos), delicious burritos, cheesy quesadillas – there is something so comforting yet exciting when it comes to Mexican cuisine. Featuring unique spices that create the most fantastic flavours, Sydney is home to some of the best Mexican restaurants you can find without needing to get on a plane to Mexico City!
If you haven’t been to a Mexican restaurant in a while, then here’s everything you need to know:
In the early 2010s, Australia experienced an explosion of interest in Mexican cuisine. Sydney in particular saw a boost in popularity, with Mexican food trucks and restaurants quickly emerging as a result. This enthusiasm is due to the healthy ingredients and rich, powerful flavours that makes Mexican food so popular with Australians.
Whether it’s with meat, poultry, seafood or vegetables, Mexican cuisine is easily accessible to a wide variety of people with many different diet restrictions. And yet Mexican food still offers the same unique and incredible range of tastes without having to sacrifice any of the flavours.
As mentioned before, Mexican cuisine is all about bold flavours, and the key to this is in the herbs and spices used. Some of the main ingredients used across a wide variety of Mexican dishes include coriander (cilantro), oregano, limes, garlic, and of course, chillies, which can be pickled, dried, smoked or fresh. These flavours are the key to why Mexican food has such a powerful and incredible taste.
There are many Mexican dishes that have become so well known, not just in Sydney but also throughout the world as well. These dishes include crunchy or soft shell tacos, burritos, tamales, stuffed quesadillas, enchiladas, nachos, fajitas and so many more.
If you are looking to dine at a Mexican restaurant but want to try something authentic and new, then there are many traditional Mexican dishes that are worth trying. Tamales are a typical dish found in Mexico which is pulled pork or chicken, salsa, roasted peppers and cheese wrapped in banana or corn leaves.
Chilaquiles is a traditional breakfast dish, featuring fried corn tortillas that are cut into quarters and topped with scrambled eggs, salsa, cheese, pulled chicken, refried beans and cream. As one of the oldest dishes in Mexico, Pozole is a delicious corn soup that is stewed overnight and served with onion, chilli, lettuce, lime and radish. Pozole was also used in ancient ritual sacrifices!
Now that you’re getting hungry, here is where you will find some of the best Mexican restaurants in Sydney!
Situated above Newtown Station is Calaveras, a Mexican restaurant that will instantly capture your attention with its bright neon signs and rows of fairy lights that line the ceiling. Paying homage to Mexico’s unique cantina culture, Calaveras is proudly Mexican, from the stylish interior décor to the food and drinks on offer.
A perfect start to your meal is their totopos azules, featuring crunchy tortilla corn chips that are topped with chipotle mayo for a little bit of spice, feta cheese, pico de gallo salsa and garnished with chopped coriander. For mains, we highly recommend their open burrito, filled with tender chicken that has been marinated in Mexican spices and served with rice, beans, freshly homemade chimichurri and guac, and sprinkled with chopped coriander.
Calaveras also has a tequila bar with an impressive drink menu featuring Mexican beers, wines, sangrias, and their vast selection of delicious cocktails. For the perfect ending to a perfect meal, you should definitely make sure you order their traditional Mexican churros that are dusted with cinnamon sugar and then drizzled in rich chocolate sauce!
Image: Madeleine Ryan
Having a strong focus on providing inventive and traditional Mexican food that is delicious and healthy, Bad Hombres stands out on this list as an all-vegan Mexican restaurant. With a rustic interior of graffitied brickwork and lightbulbs hanging from the rafters, Bad Hombres creates a warm and friendly atmosphere as soon as you walk through their door.
If you’re dining with friends (or really hungry for some delicious food), then we highly recommend trying their oyster mushrooms “alambre” sharing plate. It’s a Mexican-style stir fry with onion, capsicum, black bean puree, diced coriander and is served with a side of warm corn tortillas. Another popular dish is their Mexican bowls, filled with fresh jasmine rice, pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, corn, braised black beans, housemade guacamole and your choice of fillings (we recommend trying the Baja jackfruit filling).
As you can’t leave without leaving on a sweet note, make sure you try their Arroz con Leche, which is a traditional Mexican rice pudding with aromatic cinnamon. Apart from their wine menu, Bad Hombres also offer some inventive cocktails to try. A favourite is their lychee paloma, made with lychee liqueur, citrus, blanco and grapefruit soda.
Heavily inspired by the cool and stylish neighbourhoods in Mexico City such as Condesa and Roma, Sonora brings the heart of this culture straight to Potts Point. As the team behind Calita, Carbón Mexican Woodfire (also on this list), Taqiza and La Palma, this high-end Mexican restaurant offers a unique and unforgettable dining experience.
Sonora offers a creative menu that is designed by their executive chef Juan Carlos, who is originally from Baja and proudly uses his grandmother’s ancient recipe to make their flour tortillas – which taste amazing with their guacamole that is made with tomatillo, herbs, serrano and pomegranate!
A crowd favourite dish is their grilled market fish that is drizzled in habanero oil for a bit of heat, topped with mango mezcal salsa and a side of a la talla sauce. Some of the more inventive dishes at Sonora include Tasmanian grilled octopus zarandeado (an ancient Mexican way of grilling which is over 500 years old) served with tatemada ink sauce.
With an interior consisting of distinct artwork and beautiful hanging mosaic lamps, Flying Fajita Sistas has continued to be the go-to Mexican restaurant in Glebe for many locals – and for good reason! The head chef and owner, Joe Slakey, provides his guests with a friendly atmosphere and incredibly delicious Mexican food.
Combining local flavours with traditional ingredients, the menu at Flying Fajita Sistas features a mix-and-match style of various toppings and fillings. Their burrito is an absolute must-try, with rice, cheese, baby greens, corn salsa, sour cream, guajillo-tomato salsa and your choice of filling wrapped in a soft flour tortilla.
And of course, their fajitas are incredibly popular, featuring your choice of grilled vegetables or meats that are served on a sizzling plate. It also comes with red rice, pico de gallo, black beans, sour cream, guacamole and either warm flour or corn tortillas. It also goes perfect with a glass of their Sistas margarita or a bottle of cold Mexican beer!
Tucked away behind a little arcade in Manly is where you will find Chica Bonita, a vibrant Mexican restaurant that oozes personality through its rustic charm. With interesting wall fixtures including skulls, Dia de los Muertos dolls and an industrial theme of steel beams, concrete pillars and exposed brickwork, it makes for some great selfie moments.
The name of the game at Chica Bonita is tacos – and they absolutely dominate this area. They offer classic tacos such as fish tacos, filled with shredded cabbage, chopped coriander, a squeeze of lime and a drizzle of Baja sauce. They also have an amazing selection of vegetarian tacos, including their maple pumpkin taco filled with ricotta cheese, hazelnut and pumpkin macha, and crispy kale.
We recommend getting a few small starters as well, such as their chimmi dorados with avocado crema, Mexican herbs, lamb jalisco barbacoa and topped with queso fresco. And of course, no Mexican meal would be complete without a side of guacamole!
Carbón, meaning charcoal in Spanish, is focused on creating spectacular dishes using the ancient wood fire cooking techniques of Southern Mexico. Honouring the spirit of Mexican cultural values, their menu is designed to be shared and enjoyed in the company of family and friends.
Carbón Mexican Woodfire is reinvented Mexican cuisine at its finest. A crowd favourite is their signature ‘make your own tacos’, which encourages you to mix and match different ingredients to create your own taco flavour. A delicious main that you should definitely try at least once is their lamb shoulder barbacoa with onions, chickpeas, Mexican herbs and adobo barbacoa broth.
For sides, we recommend a plate of grilled broccolini with lime, toasted almonds and cashew chipotle sauce, and a bowl of their homemade guacamole with chilli oil, ancient seeds and a side of crispy tortilla corn chips. Once you’re finished, a highlight on their dessert menu is their oaxaca chocolate mousse, sprinkled with mint and served with a roasted pineapple mezcal compote!
Drawing from the rich cultural history of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, the cuisine at Tequila Mockingbird is a nod to the past of traditional Mexican food while embracing a modern twist with inventive dishes. This winning combination is why Tequila Mockingbird will always enter the conversation when discussing the best Mexican restaurants in Sydney.
Their diverse menu features standout dishes such as their 700g slow-roasted lamb shoulder served with burnt lime and Agentinian chimichurri, and their chargrilled broccolini with green pea mole, cured egg yolk and splashed with tequila lime dressing. A perfect side dish is their grilled street corn (elotes) served with baked ricotta and chipotle crema!
If you have a sweet tooth, then you have to try their yuzu suspiro limeño which is made with yuzu granita, citrus curd, frozen meringue and brown butter crumb. Tequila Mockingbird also has an extensive drink menu featuring a good selection of wines from Italy, Australia, Spain, France and Argentina. But you can’t leave without trying one of their signature cocktails!
Mexican cuisine has rightfully earned the reputation in Australia of being healthy, delicious food that is packed full of unique and signature flavours.
Now that you know where the best Mexican restaurants in Sydney are, make sure you book a table with family and friends and enjoy the festive experience of Mexican dining!