A guide on the wall of La Popular Taqueria shows proper taco-eating etiquette: grasp your taco by the middle, raise your elbow 90 degrees and tilt your head forward.
Good advice when it comes to eating your way through Daniella Guevara’s Mexican tacos. Everything here is made in-house, from the soft tortillas to the chunky guacamole, smooth frijoles (black beans) and crunchy pickled vegetables. She recommends topping her Yucatan-style cochinita (pulled pork marinated in achiote paste, citrus, herbs and spices) with refreshing pickled red onion. Or for the daring, there’s the cachete de res (beef cheek) braised with guajillo, pasilla and morita chillies, best topped with fiery habanero sauce.
Guevara’s iced hibiscus fresca or Mexican horchata (rice water) will wash away the heat, or for those after something a little harder, she’ll soon offer mezcal tequila (which should be sipped – never shot), a glass of bubbles and a rich Big Shed ale (liquor licence pending).
Guevara’s cuisine (and the restaurant’s name) is an ode to her neighbourhood of Sector Popular in Mexico City. The self-taught cook has been sharing her cuisine since moving to Australia in 2009, starting with pop-up dinners in her home under the banner of Mi Mero Mole.
Now with the help of Renew Adelaide, she’s moved her base of operations to a historic building in the heart of Port Adelaide. After three months of renovations, including raising the ceiling and installing the commercial kitchen, the space is unrecognisable from its former life as a computer repair shop. The tables and bar top were donated from the team at the soon-to-be opened Port Admiral Hotel.
“I wanted it to be very Mexican,” she says, but “not in a cheesy way”. That means no hats, no sombreros, and no burritos. Instead, you’ll find white-tiled walls and colourful plastic plates just like taquerias in Mexico City, and a Virgin Mary statue on the high shelf.