Taco Libre started by accident. When Yolanda Mendez introduced Sam McKay and Theo Engela (both of Hark) to birria tacos, it was a lightbulb moment for them. McKay immediately offered a solution: his shop Mollymawk by Hark, which is now open on certain nights of the week as Taco Libre.
The takeaway joint’s specialty is birria, a dish from the Mexican region of Jalisco, where Mendez’s family lived for a period. The meat inside a birria taco is marinated in garlic, dried chillies and other spices, before being cooked in a broth until tender. All-corn tortillas are then fried with cheese and topped with beef, onion, coriander, lime juice and salsa.
While each Mexican state changes aspects of the birria recipe, at Taco Libre it’s more of the traditional, Jalisco style, with melted cheese inside. A helping of birria sauce – full of tomatoes, dried chillies, onion and garlic – is served on the side for dipping, alongside Mendez’ hot and spicy salsa (she makes a mild version, too) which is drizzled over the top.
Taco Libre is easy to spot – when you see a bright blue wall, overturned milk crates and a string of Mexican flags you’ll know you’re in the right place. While it’s a grab-and-go joint at heart, there’s also outdoor tables and craft beers to enjoy with your birria. Mendez and McKay’s spot captures a true Mexican dining experience – whether it’s sitting on the kerb or enjoying a drink to the sound of Mexican hits coming from the kitchen.
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