Tag Archives: fast casual dining

hipster free tacos

Full disclosure: while Gem had very recently eaten as a guest of Mad Mex’s, this review is based upon my experience and at my own cost.

Corona as art.

A phrase not often uttered I suspect. Especially not by this (beer) snob.

That is, however, a rather apt description of Mad Mex’s light fittings in their Melbourne Central shop – perhaps the most beautiful and tasteful (ha, a pun) take on Corona yet – made from Coronas consumed by customers.

Aside from the lost-found-garbage art stuck to the ceiling thing they’ve got going on, Mad Mex looks pretty fast foody. One could be forgiven for walking past in sheer ignorance and derisive judgement, especially in a food court of a big arse shopping centre. However as the cliche goes, looks can be deceiving. Mad Mex fills the new but old and rapidly expanding fast casual segment. Think Nando’s, Grill’d and other similar restaurants where it kind of feels a bit fast food but served on a ceramic plate, using a lettuce other than Iceberg.

Yeah, one of those places.

If the marketing copy of Mad Mex’s corporate website is to believed, the chain was conceived to fill a gap in the quality Mexican food niche within Australia. After the run-away success of restaurants like Mamasita with their fresh and light menus (unlike the bastardised stodgy sour-cream-and-cheese Tex-Mex most Australians are familiar with as ‘Mexican’) I’d have to agree with them. I’m surprised it’s taken this long to see some quality Mexican food in Australia — apparently our collective repulsion at having to eat at Taco Bill wasn’t loud enough (though don’t knock their margaritas, bitch!).

Very much like a Subway or similar franchise, customers are herded cattle-style from one side of the counter to the other, to pick and choose their toppings. At its simplest it’s a three-step process: first, you must choose your Mad Mex style (i.e. what you’re having). I chose the burrito — I was hungry and it was the most expensive option on the menu at $10.90. Being the simple creature that I am I equated the most expensive item with also being the largest. Second, the meaty or (if you’re that way inclined) vegetably innards are picked — I went the Carnitas, a slow-cooked shredded pork. Then the last step: the ‘piece of resistance’:the salsa.

I chose Picante, a habanero based salsa which is the hottest in the line-up, but for my palate not particularly so. Fear not. More chilli sauce can be acquired. In the midst of the mêlée, I secured a serving of guacamole too. All in all, it came up looking a treat, I think you’ll agree. Other than looking great, it tasted pretty rad too.

While I haven’t yet tried the their tacos (though I will be back), I suspect they may rival the famed Taco Truck. Best of all, no hipsters.

Mad Mex - Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon