Will and Mick Balleau, the brothers behind Mexican street food joint Chingon and the recently closed Dr Juicy Jay’s Fried Chicken and Crab Shack (now Miss Katie’s Crab Shack), are no strangers to the flavours of the Southern states and Central America. But this time, with new eatery El Paladar, they have decided to skip across the water to serve up some fresh Cuban flavours.

Appropriately named after Cuba’s family-run restaurants, the Balleaus’ newest food venture is conveniently set up on the back of Los Barbudos, a Cuban bar owned by the group that also manages neighbouring bar Mr Wow’s Emporium and Double Happiness.

Taking over the warehouse space behind Los Barbudos, the Balleau brothers have re-jigged an old caravan into a stationary food truck, which is housing El Paladar’s kitchen.

El Paladar’s bar snacks include crispy pork rinds and plantain chips served with a fresh green mojo sauce, frijoles negros (black beans) and spicy roasted corn on the cob. Meanwhile, the bigger bites range from the Cuban Sandwich with pulled pork and sweet smoked ham, to the fresh and summery kingfish ceviche with watermelon, mango and grapefruit. The perfect pairing? A Cuban beer like Cristal or Bucanero Fuerte straight from the Barbudos bar. Customers can also look forward to taking their drinks up to the warehouse space once El Paladar gets its liquor license.

El Paladar
95 Smith Street, Collingwood
(03) 9416 0079

Wed to Sun 5.30pm to late

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