There’s a buzz of excitement upon entering El Topo for the first time. The lively vibe, Mexican décor and music put you in a fiesta mood and transports you to Mexico.
El Topo Mexican Taqueria and Tequila is one of the latest venues to launch this week. Situated on the rooftop of The Eastern Hotel with additional access from Westfield Bondi Junction, it brings an authentic taste of Oaxaca to the eastern side of the city border.
El Topo, Bondi Junction
El Topo has one of the largest Tequila and Mezcal lists and the two page menu is worth studying or asking the bartenders for advice. At a quick glance, we spotted Herradura, Patron, Espolon, Calle 23 and the Pierde Almas range of Mezcals among many others. Tequila and Mezcal flights feature on the menu where you can go by recommendations or design your own.
El Topo Bar
Cocktails come with a choice of Tequila or Mezcal, such as the El Topo, made with hibiscus, lime juice and rose, served in a green jar and the Paloma, made with grapefruit soda, lime juice and a Merlot salt rim. Both are easy drinking and go well with a range of dishes from the menu. For something a little more sour, try the Luchador made with Sloe Gin, pineapple vinegar and Botrytis Semillon with your choice of either Jose Cuervo Tradicional or Illegal Mezcal.
L-R: El Topo, Paloma
The Oaxacan-inspired food menu is cheekily divided into One Hand (Una Mano), Two Hand (Dos Manos) and Three Hand (Tres Manos) dishes among Tacos, Quesadillas and seafood dishes, and thisis where the talents of Head Chef Matthew Fitzgerald (ex Bathers Pavilion and Bentley) and Pastry Chef Jessie Nolan shine.
Snack on Chapulines ($6), roast crickets with chilli and lime. They’re crunchy, tasty with a mild chilli kick and if you’re squeamish, we recommend you eat them blindfolded.
Or try the Chicharrones ($5), crisp pork skins with spice and pepper that cut through the delicious fatty flavour.
From the seafood menu, the Ceviche of scallop, cucumber, green tomato, chilli, lime and coriander ($16) is fresh, zesty and light, though a little difficult to scoop with the corn chips.
Ceviche de Vierias, Pico de Pepino
The go-to dish, discovered on a subsequent visit (January 2013) is the chorizo con huevo y papas jalapeno ($12).
Chorizo con huevo y papas jalapeno
It’s a chorizo dish but not as you expect it. The meat is taken out of the casing and served with a slow-cooked egg ready to burst all over dish, with potato, crisp tortilla and jalapenos on the side. A sensational dish which can be described as “egg porn”.
From the quesadilla menu comes the must-have dish. Huitlacoche y hongos ($14) is made with Mexican truffle and mushrooms topped with salsa verde and a scattering of queso Oaxaqueno (cheese). It is bursting with an earthy flavour that you’re tempted to order another.
Huitlacoche y hongos
For a lighter flavour, try the Queso y flor de calabaza ($13), made with zucchini flowers, quinoa, salsa vierge and queso Oaxaqueno.
Queso y flor de calabaza
Empanadas de mole amarillo ($7) are a popular choice, filled with mole amarillo, chicken thigh and coriander.
Empanadas de mole amarillo
The taco menu is is not to be missed ($5-$6 a piece) with a choice to please many tastes.
Shown above clockwise from 12 o’clock is Taco De Cerdo (Guallio Chile Pork, Roast Pineapple, Lettuce & Coriander), Taco Pollo Con Oregano Y Almendrado(Chicken Thigh, Mexican Oregano, Almond Mayo & Watercress), Taco Carne De Res Mole Coloradito (Braised Beef Bolar Blade, Mole Coloradito, Fried Chile Salsa & Pickled Onion), Taco De Morongo (Blood Sausage, Onion, Chard, Mojo Verde & Pickle Sweet Potato), Taco De Bacalao (Salt Cold, Potato, Radish & Pickle Cabbage) and Taco De Repollo Y Nopales Con Tamarindo (Cabbage, Black Turtle Bean, Cactus, Roast Pepper & Tamarand Mayo). The top picks are the braised beef and the blood sausage.
It may look like chocolate on a tortilla but the Tluyuda Oaxaquena ($14) is a crisp large tortilla spread with black turtle bean, topped with watercress and queso fresco. The crisp pork pieces add texture and seasoning and are best not shared, not even with your other half.
From the Tres Manos menu comes Pollo En Mole Negro Oaxaqueno ($24), a Chicken Maryland topped with Oaxacan Black Mole served with chickpeas. The chicken is tender and flavoursome, and who doesn’t enjoy a good Mexican mole.
Pollo En Mole Negro Oaxaqueno
The Cordero En Adobo Y Frijoles Blancos ($25) dish is another must-have, with tender and perfectly cooked lamb rump with, Mulato Chile Adobo, walnut and pinto beans.
Cordero En Adobo Y Frijoles Blancos
Don’t miss the Frijoles Negros ($5) from the side dish menu, with braised black turtle beans and queso fresco, or the crisp and lemony Ejotes Con Epazote with saute green beans and epazote.
Save room for the Pastelitos De Chipotle Y Chocolate ($4), little chocolate and chipotle Chile Cakes – they melt in the mouth.
Pastelitos De Chipotle Y Chocolate
Flan Roto De Coco Con Chocolate Y Cajeta ($14) is a smashed flan of coconut, single origin Mexican chocolate, hazelnut and goats milk. Rrich, decadent and delicious, it can be shared between two persons.
Flan Roto De Coco Con Chocolate Y Cajeta
If you’re after a little surprise, order the “mystery box”… or lunch box as it is called here.
Inside the Calabaza Bocadillo Con Helado De Cafe ($14), you’ll find pumpkin and Cafe Patron ice cream sandwich, with Tonka Bean and pumpkin chips. Rich, creamy with a distinctive Cafe Patron flavour, if only school lunches were this good!
Calabaza Bocadillo Con Helado De Cafe
And to put a sweet finish, Buñuelos Con Chocolate ($10) are Mexican doughnuts which you dip into a thick, rich chocolate sauce, then lovingly lick your fingers.
Buñuelos Con Chocolate
El Topo Kitchen Team
L-R: Harry Stockdale Powell (senior sous-chef), Richard Learmonth (senior cdp), Brett Shorter (sous chef), Matt Fitzgerald (head chef), Daniel Townsend (CDP), Diago Kissane (commis chef), Jessie Nolan (senior pastry chef)
Below is a photo gallery of the venue:
No matter what dishes you order at El Topo, you will be impressed and amazed by the authenticity and flavours. “It’s just like being in Mexico,” a friend who had lived there reiterated throughout the night. The ambience is buzzy and fun, which makes it a great place to enjoy with friends. Whether you’re seated at one of the booths, along the communal table, or in the open air courtyard, your first visit will turn you into a regular.
El Topo may be perched above the Eastern Hotel near a shopping centre but don’t let that deter you – you’ll have the best Mexican experience this side of the eastern border. This new venue won’t remain a secret for long, and wish summer approaching, it is destined to be an eastern suburbs hotspot.
El Topo Rooftop
Level 3, 500 Oxford St
Ph: (02) 8383 5959
Gourmantic attended the soft launch of El Topo on Wednesday 22 November 2012.
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