Taking over Damian Griffiths’ new pop-up dining space for five weeks Wednesday through Saturday, the concept is designed to showcase Toby Wilson, Sean McManus and Jon Kennedy’s clever menu of plant-based Mexican food matched to natural Australian wines — a hit in Surry Hills since opening eight months ago (and going all-vegan in May).
“[The pop-up] has been in the works for about eight weeks,” McManus says. “I own a coffee shop called Neighbourhood. Damian came in for a coffee one day and he wanted us to bring Neighbourhood up as a pop-up, but we saw the space and thought it would be a better fit for Bad Hombres.
“Latin American food: the temperature, the heat, the cocktails, the drinks. It really suited Brisbane … It’s always summer up here so we thought it would be a great place to dip our toe in the water.”
Toby Wilson says the pop-up menu will draw inspiration from a recent trip to Mexico.
“We’re basing it all off Mexican street food,” Wilson says. “It starts with things that people are reasonably familiar with, like tacos, tostadas, quesadillas and that sort of thing. And it’s all based on pretty traditional recipes, but with vegetables instead of meat.
“A tostada you’d usually get with raw fish, say, we’re doing it with roasted gold beetroot and marinating it,” he continues. “We’ve got a roasted skin-on Jerusalem artichoke taco and pairing it with this lovely salsa. Everything will get the classic Mexican treatment with raw onion and coriander and lime juice. We build it like that – earthy, deep tones – and complement it with acidity and freshness to get that balance.”
As for what’s behind the restaurant’s runaway success in Sydney since opening in March, McManus talks about Bad Hombres as offering a plan-based menu rather than describing it as “vegan”. “We don’t try to replace meat with vegan things; we use traditional cooking methods and apply it to vegetables,” he says. “So it’s a technique-based menu.”
McManus hopes to cultivate return customers over Bad Hombres’ extended five week tenure. “They’re our diners in Sydney,” he says. “We play 80s rock’n’roll music and it’s all about having a good time. We want to give people the time to fall in love with the restaurant and come back with their mates and share the experience.”
Bad Hombres debuts at Alf’s Place tomorrow night.
39 Alfred Street, Fortitude Valley
Wed to Sat 5pm–late