Where:128 Mitchell St,Maidstone
When: Weds, Thurs 5-9pm, Fri: 5-10pm, Weekends: 8.30am-10pm
Contact: (03) 9318 52 89
A far cry from all-you-can-eat and novelty sombrero-dishing establishments, Los Latinos prefer to call their cuisine “Latin”. But for those who have a soft spot for comfort-food Mexican fare, fear not, you can still have your burrito and giant margarita. What’s nice about this place is that you’ll find meals which are safe and familiar alongside the relatively exciting and exotic (to those who aren’t South America). Perhaps it is the combination of gringo faves and traditional specialties that makes Los Latinos so popular with the locals. They do a roaring trade and you’ll find it hard to book a table, even mid-week. From the outset the restaurant doesn’t look very glamorous, but it must be understood within the context which is Mitchell Street,Maidstone; an industrial Western suburb with little to offer by the way of charming dinner hospitality. Los Latinos is glowing little hub of good energy on an otherwise desolate strip.
Chorizo, salsa and soft tortillas ($6.50)
Inside and out of the cold there’s traditional Latino music and evidence of a well-loved family business; the walls adorned with cut-out images of South America and even a painted mural. They’re fully licensed too with an exotic drink list with items like Pineapple Margaritas, in giant glasses of course. To start we ordered the Chorizo, with Salsa and soft tortillas ($6.50). The chorizo had bite but wasn’t incredible, but the salsa was palatable enough to pull the whole thing off. Soft tortilla chips are relatively new to me and I enjoyed them. Next came the Burrito El Grande ($12), true to its name and completely delicious. There wasn’t anything revolutionary about it but it was good food and felt nice, “like a hug for your stomach” one of our dining party commented. I couldn’t agree more.
I was also fortunate enough to taste the Chicken Hot Tamales ($10) which described itself as a “Latino American dish of seasoned chicken and vegetables wrapped in cornmeal dough steamed in banana leaves. The dough drew comparisons for me to the bread served with African cuisine, but without the vinegar tang. The dish had a strange taste infused throughout that I couldn’t identify and took some getting used to. The texture too, was disconcerting for a novice like me; quite soggy. Overall it was dense and satisfying but perhaps not to everyone’s tastes.
Chilli Con Carne, beans and rice wrapped in a large flour tortilla topped with green lettuce, salsa roja, guacamole and sour cream ($12)
Los Latino’s is a little dog-eared but has enormous heart. It’s a place to bring friends and family which feels like a real home. I would’ve stayed longer if not for an icy draft (it looked as if they were leaving the back door open). A return visit is likely, even just to see what is on the cards for the weekend breakfast shift.
Hot Tamales- Chicken: Latino American dish of seasoned chicken and vegetables wrapped in cornmeal dough steamed in banana leaves ($10)