Chica Bonita in Sydney’s CBD – it’s everything you love about flavour-rich contemporary Mexican food pero (but) without the cultural stereotypes glaring at you through painted skulls.
It was about a week before Sydney went into a near-state of lockdown when a visiting nomadic friend suggested we check out Sydney’s relatively new (opened nine months earlier) Mexican restaurant, Chica Bonita.
“Beautiful girl,” she said, addressing me with the English translation of the restaurant’s name. “The Head Chef trained in Mexico City, they have Taco Tuesday and a Juan-derfully long list of cocktails.”
She went on about the Baja Peninsula-inspired decor and family recipes blended with street food, but she already had me with Chef Alejandro Huerta’s authentic experience.
So we met on Market Street and made the short stroll to 165 Clarence for Mexican food.
Head Chef Alejandro Huerta’s menu serves up your classic Mexican dishes from tostadas to enchiladas, ceviche and loaded papas fritas, but it’s the soft tacos that will have you coming back for more and more – they give L.A.’s taco trucks a run for their salsa.
On a regular night, guests can choose from six meat, chicken, fish and vegetarian taco options. On Taco Tuesday, there are 10.
I gave my tastebuds a flavourful party by opting for the vegetarian Tempura Corn and Pumpkin Maple tacos. I paired them with a Mexican restaurant must – the drenched in oily goodness, bebe corn entre.
Each bite was followed by a heartfelt “mmm” and washed down with a bowl of generously loaded fries.
My friend wasn’t lying when she described Chica Bonita’s drinks menu as ‘Juan-derful’. It’s made up of cerveza, margaritas, vino, soft drinks and my personal favourite, mixtos.
Each drink is creatively named with either a Mexican or a quirky twist such as the Tequila Rock My Melons, Every Juan Loves Gin and Smoky A.F. Sour.
I opted for the Every Juan Loves Gin. The katun mexican gin was masked by a thick layer of frothed egg whites making it a smooth but deadly drink. Two and I was ready for a fiesta.
Speaking of a fiesta…
What a vibe!
Chica Bonita is buzzing like a Mexican party.
The dining tables sit cosy to create a social atmosphere that is complimented by a bar area.
It’s the perfect place for afterwork drinks, weekend catch ups or a celebratory dinner.
On the outside, the venue is quite understated. Aside from an illuminated ‘Chica’ sign, it blends well with its office surroundings. But once the doors swing open, it’s like stepping into a lively bar with great food, great drinks and a lot of loud chatter.
The interior is very much inspired by the Baja Peninsula with its brave yellow colour, steeped massing and clay details. It misses any of the Mexican Day of the Dead stereotypes, which is a welcome change.
Good food, great drinks and a fun vibe. Definitely book yourself in for Chica Bonita the next time you’re craving Mexican food in Sydney or if you’re looking for a cool place to dine, drink and catch up with amigos.