I was overseas for quite a while and now that I’m back, I have noticed a few things. Food prices are through the roof, Qld winters really are the best and Mexican is the Comida del Dia. Everyone rolls their eyes about Tex-Mex and Montezuma’s and how hard done by Australian’s are when it comes to real Mexican food. The love affair started with Taco Den, was cemented by Casa Fiesta and has not really evolved from there.
But now it appears that there are a few new kids on the block, trying to introduce the concept of Mexican market eating. Fresh produce, quality fillings and authentic ingredients all delivered in the time it would usually take for you to order two all beef patties. Last Friday, I was invited to a blogger event to have lunch with Clovis Young, head honcho of ‘Mad Mex – Fresh Mexican Grill‘. The idea was to meet the man behind the concept, sample the food, shoot the breeze about the hottest jalapeno we had ever tried and hopefully I would get a good meal and they would get a mention in my blog. Well, it worked. Last week I was writing about my own Mexican adventure and this week I am writing about someone else’s.
Clovis grew up in California, enjoying the delights of Mexican food but once he moved to Beantown on the East Coast, there was no decent Mexican to be had so it was up to his family to recreate their own Mexican meals and dream of a better life. Identifying a gap, indeed, a gaping whole in the market in Australia he decided he was the one to introduce us to the authentic flavours of Baja California. A few years ago, it was just one grill in Sydney, now there’s 10 and he’s hoping to expand further into Qld, hence the invite.
|Soft Taco w extra Jalapenos|
Ordering is easy. Choose your style (burrito, corn chips, soft tacos etc), choose your filling (chicken, beef, pork, vegetarian etc) and then choose your salsa (hot, spicy, mild etc). All come with black beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato fresca and salsas. By the time you have worked your way along the counter, your order has been warmed, filled and wrapped – ready for eating. Even with a queue, I would have waited no more than 1 minute from ordering to receiving.
But what do they taste like? The tortillas in my soft tacos were just as I would expect and were made from white corn. The chipotle marinated pollo (chicken) filling was tasty but the slow roasted, shredded carnitas (pork) was amazing. Melting and tender with lime, cumin and garlic, now I want to recreate the carnitas in my own kitchen. Dayle Moses – a fellow Brisbane Blogger had a burrito that was the perfect size for lunch. A mid sized portion filled generously with meat rather than being ridiculously humongous and filled just with lettuce. There were also Quesadillas to sample and along with my carnitas soft taco, they were a standout. Corn chips are made in the traditional method with corn softened in lime water and stone ground and were accompanied by a range of salsas including an ingredient rarely seen or known of in Australia – the tomatillo. We finished with a serve of churros and chocolate sauce and I can honestly say they were some of the best churros I have tried. Many’s a time I was disappointed by cold, oily churros sans sugar and cinnamon in Spain.
|Damn good churros|
Mad Mex has made an effort to court the fickle fast food fancier. Attention has been paid to dietary needs with gluten free and low carb options and there is a nutritional calculator on the website. Corn chips are made by an Australian family company, produce is sourced locally for each Grill and all meat is Australian. They do import a lot of ingredients but make no apologies, stating the best black beans, specific spices and condiments can not be sourced locally. Those shipping containers include one of my favourite soft drinks, discovered in Florida last year. Try a genuine Jarritos Tamarind Soda for a taste of the south. As an added bonus, it’s licenced. Dayle and I shared a lunchtime Margarita and there are Coronas too – upcycled into Coronodaliers when they are done.
|Hot Sauce w Margarita lurking in the background|
It’s a simple concept – fresh, tasty, fast. It works. Brunswick St Mall is perhaps not where you would open your Qld flagship store. Try as the BCC might to gentrify and modernise the mall, it’s seen better days but the Mad Mex storefront is welcoming, groovy and was very busy on the Friday lunch I visited. Perfect for office workers grabbing lunch but also good for tourists and those looking for a change from the myriad of Asian options in the surrounding precinct. Hopefully, Mad Mex will get a toe hold elsewhere and offer a decent alternative to the mega burger and chicken chain options.
|Clovis @ Max Mex Brunswick St Mall|
PS: make sure you click on the Taco Den and Casa Fiesta links to see some great ads. If only meals started from $3 nowadays!
*TIFFIN was a media guest of Mad Mex