Following on from my foray into Dude Food at The Dip a few weeks ago it seemed only natural to make tracks over to El Loco in Surry Hills to try their hybrid Mexican-Dude-Food-esque offerings.
In his bid to take over the world, of wining and dining at least, Justin Hemmes of Merivale fame has acquired the old Excelsior Hotel in Surry Hills. A revamp of the hotel to bring it up to Merivale's hip and trendy standards is imminent, but in the meantime a rustic Mexican inspired cantina has opened at the back of the pub. Dan Hong, the chef behind Ms G's and Lotus, is also behind the food here at El Loco - giving it a fun, modern yet casual edge.
Although I'm visiting on a school night with Laura, Marty and The Chefette I decide it's early enough in the evening for a cocktail (I'm a one pot screamer so need to pace myself on school nights - sad I know). Turns out my teetotaling ways are a smart move as this is one lethal, but tasty, Classic Margarita ($13.50).
There are five tacos on offer at El Loco and at $5.00 each it is tempting to want to try them all. As I'm also eyeing off Hot Dog I decide I need to pace myself - which must be a first for me. In the end I decide to go for the Al Pastor (spit roasted pork with pineapple salsa - on the right below) and the Queso de Soya (chilli marinated tofu with pico de gallo). Tofu seems like an odd ingredient for a taco, but it works really well - crunchy tofu is a nice contrast to the soft taco shell, and the pico de gallo (aka Salsa) is light and fresh tasting.
After I've finished my dinner though I'm still feeling a bit peckish, so opt for just one more taco. El Loco has a "Mystery Taco" on offer each night and after the chef assures me it's not tongue, innards or any other squishy bits I decide to be brave and order one. I'm rewarded with a crunchy, spicy Fish Taco - which I don't photograph so get to experience the joy of eating hot food for a change. Amazing!
And last but not least the El Hot Dog ($12.00). The pork frankfurt is a monster squeezed into a fresh bun accompanied by pickled jalapenos, mayonnaise, pico ge gallo and a mound of cheese. In an attempt to save my arteries from self combustion I push most of the cheese to the side and tuck in...and the hot dog slides right out of the bun, through my hands, bounces on the table and ends up back on it's plate. What a mess, but once the dog is returned to its rightful place in the bun it is very tasty. The jalapenos give the hot dog a kick, but it is not overpoweringly spicy - the heat is quite manageable.
I have to say though...the Hot Dawg at The Dip is still in first place as my favourite Hot Dog of all time. Sorry El Loco - but I'll be back to try more Tacos. Promise!
El Loco is at 64 Foveaux St, Surry Hills. It's just up from Central Station before Foveaux Street becomes too steep for most humans to climb.