2 Railway Parade
Highett, VIC 3190
La Tortilleria is easily one of the best spots for authentic tacos in Melbourne. And their tortillas are so good that they’re the supplier for most of the reputable Mexican spots in around town (and often interstate too). So it was pretty big news when they announced Chilpa – short for chilpayate, aka younger one – opening bayside. The vibe here is definitely more family restaurant compared to its older sibling, but the boom gates right across the road does add a bit to the rustic ambience you get at La Tortilleria, if you’re into that sort of thing. Now call me crazy, but although the food here is pretty good, it just doesn’t seem to have the same soul as its older sibling. Then again, I haven’t been to the OG in donkey’s years, so maybe it’s time to make a trip across town.
Rating: 12.5/20 – food is good but fails the vibe check a bit.
How to: just go for the tacos. you really can’t beat them.
With most of the menu based on the same core ingredients, going with a big plate of the tacos is probably the easiest and best way to go. After all, it’s the best way to appreciate the beautiful corn tortillas La Tortilleria is known for (go figure).
The Birria Taco ($15, 2pc) is easily the best of the lot, with its smoky, juicy meat, and a cup of concentrated spicy beef stock for dipping. Once the dipping was done, I just straight up drank the stock – it was that good.
The Al Pastor Taco ($6.5ea) also punched above its weight. Instead of dry shavings of pork, the meat here was thickly sliced with just the right amount of fat, and a spicy pineapple salsa really nailed the warm-weather vibes.
I usually find the Pescado Taco ($7.5ea) to be an easy win, but this one was surprisingly disappointing. Between the stale, too-small fish and cold slaw, this just wasn’t that great.
For snacking, the Chilaquiles ($10) is a good bet. Instead of being grossly drowned in sour cream and melted cheddar, this is nachos done is true Mexican style. The saucy mix of salsa roja and crema, bound by just a scattering of melted cheese, is light yet flavoursome and moreish. And the quality tortilla chips really make a difference.
The main character dessert is the Flan ($9) – a slice of baked custard similar to crème caramel, but much thicker and denser. The contrasting bitterness of the burnt sugar is especially welcome.
My preference however is for the Arroz Con Leche ($6), the traditionally hearty rice pudding made light and cool with the use of rice milk and a deft hand with the spices.