Che Asado is dead. Long live Mucho Mexicano.
That’s the mental proclamation when you step inside the semi-circular South Brisbane premises that swing from Grey Street right round to Little Stanley. The handsome hardwood furniture is the same. The open kitchen is the same. Much of the fit-out remains unchanged.
But that’s fair enough, given Che Asado was such a short-lived venture for the Olé Restaurant Group (Olé, The Sangria Bar, Mister Paganini), kiboshed by an extraction-fan system that couldn’t field the smoke from a charcoal grill vital to its Argentinian cuisine.
“That meant ripping out the extraction system and closing down for a substantial period of time,” says general manager of the group Luke Stringer. “We had to remove the grill. How authentically Argentinian are you without the grill?”
So the group changed tack. The concept for Mucho Mexicano was already finalised – all it needed was a venue. Asado’s forced closure was the perfect opportunity to pull the trigger.
The final result opened on Monday and is a breezy, inviting space, heavy on colour and warm detailing. Laser-cut perspex bunting and column-covering murals by local artist Sarah Jane Bradley are the stand-out features. On the Little Stanley Street side, a previously forgotten bar has been transformed with the addition of two rows of hanging planters. It’s a clever shake-up by a group experienced in working against the precinct’s profundity of grey.
“It’s easy for things to get a bit bland in this area, but after Che we had a second chance to really knock it out of the park,” Stringer says.
Wayne Mountford’s menu is a step forward from the local Tex-Mex that’s become so popular in recent years — light, zesty, focused on flavour and designed to share. There are no burritos here (except as a drop-in lunchtime special). Instead, it’s build-your-own platters of tacos filled with chipotle-braised brisket, crispy pork belly and slow-cooked lamb shoulder, or DIY tostadas with corn chips, sauces, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, beef and pork.
The drinks list is similarly breezy, built on a healthy selection of Margaritas, sangrias and Mexican beers. A brief, reasonably priced wine list is compiled from both local and South American drops.
A breakfast menu will be introduced in the coming weeks.
Stringer sees Mucho Mexicano as part of a rejuvenation of the far end of the Grey Street strip, away from QPAC and the Convention Centre.
“It’s all changed in the last six months,” he says. “Tippler’s Tap, they’re heaving now. Doughnut Time has smashed it. The Yiros Shop is doing well. [All along the strip] the standard is continuing to lift, and it’s pushing out the weaker operators.”
15 Little Stanley Street, South Brisbane
Mon to Sun 11am–9:30pm