Handmade corn tortillas, burritos, tamales, huaraches (fried flat bread made from masa dough piled high with toppings), enchiladas smothered in chocolatey mole sauce and fresh house-made salsas. At Taco Quetzalcoatl, these dishes are all cooked with ingredients imported from Mexico and flanked by a selection of bottled Mexican hot sauces.
“Tucked into the back corner of a residential neighborhood in suburban South Australia, Taco Quetzalcoatl feels like nothing short of a miracle.”
So said New York Times food critic Besha Rodell after visiting the tiny taqueria in Salisbury. She also called it “one of the best representations of Mexican food in Australia”.
Despite fervent loyalty among Mexican expats and proponents of Mexican cuisine, the neighbourhood diner is still relatively unknown among many Adelaidians. That’s about to change, with the opening of a larger second location on Unley Road called Quetzalcoatl Mexican Restaurant.
Mexican-born owner and head chef Margarita Galindo Gallardo tells Broadsheet she wants to introduce her cooking to more people. “People need Mexican food,” she says matter-of-factly. She’d also heard countless customers lament that they can’t get to the Salisbury location often enough.
Gallardo worked in restaurants in Veracruz and went to cooking school in Yucatán before moving to Adelaide in 2007. She soon started running neighbourly taco parties in her garage before moving to a modest space in a Salisbury backstreet, where she recreated the atmosphere of a home gathering – the open-plan kitchen and dining area allowed guests to interact freely with Gallardo and her staff as they worked.
The new restaurant (in the former Indochina Thai Restaurant site) will expand on the concept, seating 100 people in a colourful cantina-style setting, according to Gallardo’s business partner Jaime Figueroa. A third partner, Marco Camarillo, is also in the mix, with Gallardo to divide her time between the Unley and Salisbury kitchens.
The menu will stay much the same, with a couple of extra restaurant-style dishes plus traditional dishes that will change each week. A liquor license is on the way, too, so expect Mexican beers, tequila and pina coladas as well as non-boozy options such as horchata.
Quetzalcoatl Mexican Restaurant will open in August.
Quetzalcoatl Mexican Restaurant
153 Unley Road, Unley