4/90 Charles St
Putney, NSW 2112
Riding off the back of my lovely dinner at Tres a Cinco, I was keen for some more Mexican food. A quick look around led me to Gringos Mexican Cantina, which is not only close to where I live, but also made Zomato’s collection of best street food. I was sold.
Initial impressions were a tad underwhelming; take away the obligatory Frida Kahlo references and hot sauce bottles, and this place may as well be a family restaurant in one of the quainter Sydney suburbs. The crowds however were a good sign; despite it only being a Wednesday, there was only one seat left for walk-ins, and everyone seemed to be enjoying their food heartily. The mural on the back wall of the restaurant was also seriously impressive.
As they were out of jalapeno poppers that day, we opted to start with a serve of the Chips and Queso ($5, small). The best thing about this was probably the generous serving size; the queso was decently cheesy and augmented with spicy salsa, but the flavour overall was unmemorable. The corn chips were a cut above Doritos, but a far cry from the lovely thick-cut style you get at the legitimate Mexican cantinas.
The style of ordering here follows what you find at most Mexican fast-food restaurants – pick your main (that’s to say, taco, burrito, salad, enchilada etc), choose a filling, then decide on a salsa and you’re good to go. Unsurprisingly, this ended in some fairly underwhelming results. My Shredded Steak Tacos ($18, 3pcs) was fine, but no better than the standard meat-beans-salsa concoction I could make at home, and the beef was leaning towards too salty, and I love my sodium. The only notable thing about this dish was the corn tortilla, which was surprisingly soft and fragrant, its tell-tale aroma remaining on my hands long after the meal was over.
The Shredded Chicken Mexican Salad ($17, regular) was even less exciting. Once again, although there was nothing specifically wrong with the salad, there’s nothing really Mexican at all about this aside from the guacamole, and maybe the salsa and tortilla strips if you wanted to be generous.
Needless to say, Gringos was a disappointment. The food is barely more authentic than what you’d find at a halfway-decent food court restaurant, and the quality is on a similar level as well. And although the prices are cheaper than most Mexican restaurants in Sydney, you’re still not really getting a product that’s worth your money. As wrong as this feels, I’m going to recommend that you head to Guzman y Gomez instead for your faux-Mexican fix.
Rating: 11/20 – imposter.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.