Mexican food has quickly become a staple in Melbourne’s dining scene. Set in the recently renovated Strand Arcade, Old El Paso’s Stand ‘N Stuff pop-up restaurant is the new contender fighting for a spot in your lunch schedule in true Lucha Libre wrestler style (till July 24).
The Plus Ones attended the launch last week and you can experience this interesting new concept too for only $2.50 per DIY taco — a real bargain.
The pop-up was conceived to introduce Old El Paso’s new soft tortillas. The shape of the tortillas reminded this Mexican born-and-raised reviewer of little boats. The flat bottom allows the tortilla to sit on the plate without the need to hold it, and its sides make it easy to stuff (or overstuff – whatever rocks your boat!) without spilling or making a mess. They’ll be great for children’s parties. While you’re enjoying the food, why not have an agua fresca (a juice-based non-alcoholic drink) to go with it?
At the launch party, we enjoyed the Mariachi band perform the Desperado theme song. It was fun chatting to the band — they’re all lovely (even if they’re not technically from Mexico, but El Salvador is close enough, right?).
For a more authentic Mexican experience, stick to the fresher ingredients and forgo the cheese. (No cheese? Nope, not in tacos. In quesadillas, though, knock yourself out!) Tacos tend to be less elaborate than commonly imagined: two to three fresh ingredients and boom! A fiesta of crisp, spicy flavours in your mouth.
Paul Wilson, former chef at Acland Street Cantina and Newmarket Hotel, is behind the menu, which comprises pork, chicken and beef options with a salad-bar style range of toppings that you can add yourself. Try the pulled pork with the fennel and lime coleslaw, top it off with pickled Spanish onions and some salsa verde. The flavours feel straight from the Mayan area of Yucatan. (Confession: I ate three!)
If you want to get more creative and try different combinations, I won’t stop you. The idea of this pop-up is to make eating fun. Food served to you after travelling through a ferris wheel and a conveyor belt? It’s a fiesta, after all!
Old El Paso Stand ‘N Stuff Tortilla Family Bar
250 Elizabeth St.
Shop 16, The Strand
Melbourne VIC 3000
Bio: Jennifer is originally from Mexico and has been eating her way through Melbourne’s restaurants and cafés for the past five years. She loves eating good food, travelling and talking about books.