Sunday, February 12, 2012

El Loco, Surry Hills

Late again on the bandwagon I am, but punctuality was never my strong point. Mexican, it is this time and you may have noticed that in the past year and a bit Sydney has been experiencing a definitive mejicano trend. El Loco set up camp at the back of the Excelsior Hotel mid-2011 and the cantina y barra has since buzzing strong, dishing out street-style Mexican food served in takeaway containers. With its kitsch decor of gaudy tabletops, bright walls and multicoloured stools, the cantina was packed out when we first visited last week at around 7PM on a Tuesday and we gleefully nabbed the last available spot.

Corn Chips, El Loco
Corn Chips with Guacamole and Salsa $5

We ordered at the bar and received a table number stand in the form of a ludicrous giant wooden cactus; food arrived swiftly and we share a box of the corn chips with guacamole and salsa - fat, crunchy chips perfect for dipping into the luscious guacamole and a mild tomato salsa packed with herbs. So moreish and I just couldn't get enough of the guacamole.

Quesadillas, El Loco
Chorizo and Jalapeño Quesadillas $5

On the specials board was the chorizo and jalapeño quesadillas, thick slices of chorizo, pickled jalapeños and oozy melted cheese sandwiched between two toasted mini tortillas with some dippy chipotle sauce on the side. Deliciously fiery.

Pork Sandwich, El Loco
“Al Pastor” Pork “Torta” Sandwich $10

I realise that this is an incredibly subpar photo of the “al pastor” pork “torta” sandwich but I was too distracted by my quesadilla at this time to have taken it properly. It's marinated pork chunks from the spit grill with pico de gallo salsa blanketed by cabbage, coriander, spring onion and mayonnaise, tucked inside a sesame hamburger bun. Vern gave the thumbs up.

Tacos, El Loco
Al Pastor, Pollo, Carne Asada Tacos $5 each

Pork, chicken and beef (clockwise from the top), Sharon has her bases covered. The al pastor taco is spit roast pork and pineapple salsa, the pollo taco is chicken and sweet corn salsa, and the carne asada taco is lemongrass beef with salsa verde; all include cabbage, spring onions and coriander. We watched Sharon spill taco innards all through dinner, but she enjoyed it despite making a mess of herself and the table.

Tacos, El Loco
Camaron, Secret Taco $5 each

My choices were the camaron taco containing prawn, salsa verde and pico de gallo and the secret taco, a daily special with surprise ingredients notorious for its fondness for offal (previous fillings include  intestine, chicken hearts, pig uterus, lamb tongue and brains). The prawns were plump, the coriander and cabbage refreshing and a far cry from the cliched Tex-Mex flavours we've become accustomed to. I think the secret taco that night might've been some sort of battered fish, I had no clue and forgot to ask but it was delicious, topped with sweet corn, tangy dressing (chipotle, I think) and two pieces of chilli.

Classic Margarita, El Loco
Classic Margarita $13.50

It ain't Mexican without margaritas, I opt for the classic but there's a small but varied selection here (jalapeño, celery and avocado, beetroot). It's Herradura Blanco Tequila and Cointreau shaken with lime juice and sugar and served into a plastic cup with a salted rim; there's just something special about a lime+tequila+salt combination that tastes like love.

Hot Dog, El Loco
Excelsior Hot Dog $9

I went back within the same week. This time at a much quieter hour for a late lunch, my choice is the Excelsior hot hog. Finely shredded queso fresco cheese smother a grilled pork Frankfurt, held in place by a generous squiggles of mayonnaise and mustard, inside the soft bun you will find pickled jalapeños and pico de gallo lining the bottom. This dawg is a creamy, tangy, delicious mess.

Salad, El Loco
El Loco Salad $12

Another victim of the "watching what I eat" logic, Joseph orders the El Loco salad and I smugly note the deep-fried slivered tortilla chips and blizzard of grated cheese adorning his otherwise healthy veggie pile. The salad is rather unusual with Asian influences, compromised of chilli spiced tofu, avocado, shredded cabbage, shaved fennel and radish, coriander, spring onions and a dressing that reminded me of Chinese sweet sauce. Strangely addictive.

El Loco
64 Foveaux St, Surry Hills 2010
Telephone: (02) 9211 4945

El Loco on Urbanspoon


  1. ahahahahahahahahhaha salads cool alrite

  2. OMG - the quesadilla sounds amazing. And that is one of the best hot dogs I've had - not healthy, but YUM!

  3. Thanks for posting your photos, I really like the guac that comes with the nachos, and haven't been able to finish their hot dogs without spilling cheese and mayo everywhere. The quesadillas look tasty - will have to check it out next time.

  4. It's on my list of places to check out and has been for ages...who knows if I'll ever get there.