16th November 2015
69 Chapel Street
Windsor, VIC 3181
Prahran being what it is, there are always new restaurants popping up, day in and day out. The newest addition to the long strip of fashionable eateries is Jalisco Mexican, a colourful taqueria beaming out onto Chapel Street.
Jalisco is festively and undeniably Mexican. The folk music blared, the tequila bottles glittered, and the interior was decorated with a jumble of quirky and unique trinkets.
But it was the beer garden that really set this place apart. Set out in sandstone and desert plants, one side of the courtyard was dominated with a gorgeous graffiti mural. The seats were painted in bold colours, and the garden came alive with colourful lights as the sun went down.
This might be the first time I’ve ever reviewed water, but how gorgeous does this look? Served margarita-style with lime and a salt rim, this slightly sour, slightly salty water was an antidote to all things spicy and cheesy.
The feast started with a plate of Nachos ($14, regular). I was disappointed with the lack of guacamole and fresh salsa, but it’s hard to be too upset when each chip was encrusted with melted cheese. The addition of jalapenos gave it that extra tingle these nachos needed, and we happily polished the whole plate off.
Similarly addictive were the Mexican Steak Fries ($8). I had originally thought these were spice-covered potato chips, but they turned out to be sweet potato instead. Sweet, fluffy, and slightly crisp, these were incredibly moreish with the side of spicy aioli.
The staple of Chips and Guacamole ($12) were a bit of a let-down. I was really hoping for bona fide tortilla crisps, and both the guacamole and salsa were on the watered-down side.
The Chorizo Taco ($6.5) on the other hand was fantastic. The spicy chunks of chorizo had just a hint of sourness to its rich fattiness, and it was complemented wonderfully with crumbly cheese and toothsome black beans. The addition of rocket was perhaps a little untraditional, but its green bitterness made for a lovely contrast to the chorizo.
EAT ALL THE FOOD!
Perhaps most impressive of all though was the Rump Steak Fajita ($19). I could tell just from the smell that this was going to be something special. The combination of smoke, sizzling fat, and freshly ground black pepper was absolutely intoxicating. And then there was the way the beef all but dissolved on the tongue. Have this wrapped in a corn tortilla with some shredded cabbage, and I guarantee you will be in heaven.
Served on the side was a bowl of Aloe Vera Cactus Salad ($11). This didn’t taste so much of a stand-alone salad as it did a salsa. Everything was diced finely, and it was a bit watery and quite sour. It wasn’t the kind of thing that I would have on its own, but I thought it was a great addition to the fajitas.
STILL EATING ALL THE FOOD!
As there are no desserts on the menu (yet!), we finished off with a few more nibbles. Street Corn ($5ea) is one of my favourite things to eat at a Mexican restaurant, but unfortunately these fell a little short. Although the corn was sweet and juicy, I found there wasn’t enough of that aromatic smokiness from the grill, and the excess of aioli made the mouth-feel rather greasy.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Taquitos ($7, 3pcs) either. The deep frying had made these very dry, and it wasn’t helped by the relative blandness of the filling (there was one beef and one chicken).
Luckily we finished on a high note with the Pulled Beef Quesadilla ($9). These crisp little morsels sandwiched a spicy mix of pulled pork and cheese, and they were incredibly easy to down when dipped in the rich tomato and onion salsa.
Looking back, I thought my meal at Jalisco Mexican was quite an enjoyable one. In terms of the food, there were some major hits and some near misses, but overall the food ranked positively. What really sets Jalisco apart is the gorgeous ambience, especially in the beer garden on a warm day. It’s a great choice for a fun night out with a group, as the drinks are plenty, and the food is made to share.
Rating: 13/20 – not bad.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Jalisco Mexican.