It’s a difficult time for restaurants in Brisbane. Some are closing temporarily, some for good. Others are pivoting to takeaway-only, and others, such as Josh Lopez’s The Wolfe, are transforming completely.
The East Brisbane fine diner last week announced the introduction of a new pick-up and delivery lobster roll (made using painted crayfish from tropical North Queensland). That option has since expanded, The Wolfe now peddling an at-home menu that includes cured Spanish mackerel with rock melon, fennel and a lemon-myrtle salad; scallop chips; and serves of half a dozen oysters.
Now Lopez has swivelled again, complementing The Wolfe’s at-home menu with offerings from Veracruz Taqueria, a takeaway and delivery taco joint. Lopez was born in El Salvador and says this is the first time – in Brisbane, at least – that his professional cooking has tapped into his Central American roots.
“I cook to make people happy, and I know tacos make me happy,” he says. “I look forward to eating tacos when I go around to Mum and Dad’s house, and I take my kids so they get exposed to food from my culture. It’s nourishing and delicious and a lot of fun.”
Of course, this being Josh Lopez, the tacos combine tradition with cutting-edge cooking techniques and a love of native produce. Locally sourced Wagyu brisket is combined with adobo chilli, cheese, tomato, red onion and cilantro. And a mole chicken taco has been fine-tuned with macadamia, wattleseed and cocoa powder, and is finished with saltbush and sour cream.
“I’m exploring something that’s deep within me,” he says, “learning how to adapt my Nordic and contemporary French techniques, and extract the most flavour from my ingredients.
“We deliver them with everything separate so you can build them yourself. That’s part of the process – one person has a bit more cabbage pickle, another a bit more salsa. And then you debate: ‘Man, you gotta try my taco!’ It’s really fun.”
The tacos come in packs of five and can be ordered for either takeaway or delivery. The restaurant is also delivering booze with food orders, including Stone & Wood tinnies and Margarita jars. Lopez says you can expect Queensland wines and champagne to come onstream in the coming days also.