Sitting amongst the spruikers and competing pasta joints of Lygon Street, slick Latin-fusion restaurant Popol Nah exudes a certain quiet confidence.
Head chef is the New York-based, Honduran-born Cali Rivera, who hit the ground running when he opened the restaurant within a month of arriving in Melbourne.
Washed with warm lighting, the mid-sized Lygon Street space features slatted wooden planks running along one wall, a crinkled, textured effect on the opposite white wall, deer antlers hanging from the ceiling, and neat succulents resting on the two large communal tables. There’s also a small, cheery courtyard.
Dinner is the main event, with a great selection of smaller dishes and reasonably priced mains that include a melting-off-the-bone lamb shank served with spicy tomato and fresh chilli on a bed of quinoa and beetroot salad.
A ‘Mezcal #2’ (ginger beer, cassis, candied habanero and tequila’s less famous cousin, mezcal) heads up an impressive cocktail selection.
The breakfast and lunch menus are relatively sparse; but offer servings of huevos rancheros or a braised pork Cubano as standouts.
Popol Nah offers a rousing Latin American food alternative to the inner city, without corny fanfare or obvious menu choices.