Los Amates

34 Johnston St, Fitzroy
Phone: 9417 0441

For ages, I’ve listened to people bemoan the lack of good Mexican food in Melbourne. I’m not sure I’d agree with that – I’m obviously no authority on the matter, but I’ve had good experiences around town. But I recognise that by and large, we’re served up ‘Tex Mex’ food, rather than ‘authentic’ Mexican fare. And some people take issue with that. Some people take issue with Sweet and Sour Pork at Chinese restaurants, too. Those people need to loosen up.

However, all of that being said, the same people who lament the presence of lack of true Mexican food in Melbourne generally tend to refer to Los Amates as something of a shining beacon in the sea of mediocrity. Of course, this is prior to the opening of Mamasita, which I’m still yet to visit, as I don’t like waiting in lines, and also I’ve heard mixed reviews.

Anyway, I stopped in at Los Amates with Mr J, after having introduced him to Dos Equis (XX) beer at Black Pearl. Continuing my ‘memories of the Yucatan’ theme, as soon as we sat down, I flicked the menu straight to the drinks page. Los Amates definitely gets points for their Mexican cerveza list. Seeing as Mr J wasn’t in a decision making mode, I took the reins, I ordered us both Modelo Especial, and the Taquiza platter to share.

The Taquiza platter is your choice of three taco fillings, with a stack of soft tortillas. You basically make your own tacos at the table. Fun! We had the Cochinita Pibil (braised pork with achiote), Lengua (ox tongue Mexico City style) and the Tinga (chicken with tomato and chipotle salsa), shown below left to right.
I was expecting to love the cochinita pibil the most, as I can still remember sitting at the town square in Cancun, watching families practice for a dance performance, munching on a tostada laden with pulled pork. While Los Amates’ version was good, it failed to capture the same flavours I remembered from years ago. Or maybe my memory’s just failed? In any case, the standout was clearly the lengua. With a soft yet springy texture, and lightly flavoured, the ox tongue was probably amongst the best I’ve tried. Mr J and I kept furtively going back for more, not wanting to seem greedy (that’s the only problem with sharing food) and pretty much ignoring the tinga, which was a bit too salty, in my opinion.

Los Amates claims to be the only authentic Mexican restaurant in Victoria. I’m not sure if they’re the only one, but they certainly are authentic. At least in my limited experience. I’d go back there for sure, if only for more beers and tongue. Ox tongue! It wasn’t that sort of date… 😉

Are there any places in Melbourne which have dishes which arouse your memories of past travel adventures?

Los Amates on Urbanspoon

3 Replies to “Los Amates”

  1. Looks good, I do miss a good Dos Equis. It reminds me of swimming in the clear blue waters off the coast of Tulum.

  2. Me too!! Although to be honest, while I was at Tulum I was drinking pretty much exclusively pina coladas, sitting on a swing at the bar/shack on the beach. Fuck I miss Tulum. I should go back, especially since my friend is now the head chef of a restaurant there!

  3. I know Cancun is in Mexico, but we Mexicans believe that Cancun and Tijuana isn't really Mexico. It's a part of Mexico full of American tourists, so maybe you tasted the tex-mex version of chochinita pibil?
    The chef aims to serve the poor peoples' food of Mexico, which is the true Mexican foods.

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