Bar Mexico, a two-storey venue on High Street in Preston, opened its doors to the public last night.

The Mexican bar is the first of two new venues from John Forman, the director of Spotswood food precinct Grazeland, which is home to more than 50 businesses including Claw and Tail, Farro, and, previously, the Pierogi Pierogi food truck (now permanent Brunswick East restaurant Eat Pierogi Make Love). He also plans to open a sibling venue, Hotel Mexico, in the former Mersh live music venue in Yarraville this August.

Bar Mexico occupies what was previously the Northside Food Hall. The two-storey space –once a shoe factory – has an earthy colour scheme of terracotta, creamy whites and beige that nods to hacienda-style architecture and design. A small loft-style area on the upper level overlooks the ground floor where most of the seating is. There is also a colourful mural painted by Ella Davidson, featuring bright green cacti, a beaming sun and earthenware.

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The menu is overseen by siblings Neven Hayek and Sandrow Yalda, who have been serving tacos and quesadillas from a repurposed shipping container at Grazeland’s El Taco since 2019.

“This menu has been in the works for a while; we’ve been testing items [at Grazeland] for the last six months and trying to perfect each dish,” Yalda told Broadsheet.

While there are El Taco dishes such as papas fritas (chips with Tajin and house-made aioli) and nachos, the duo has been able to get more creative thanks to the kitchen, which is considerably bigger than the one at Grazeland.

There is a “taco feast” plate where you will be given 10 corn tortillas, slow-cooked pulled beef, adobo-marinated chicken and a bunch of sides to build your own tacos. But Yalda says he’s most excited about Bar Mexico’s birria quesadilla, which is filled with slow-cooked beef, cheese and onion, and will resemble a pizza designed to be shared.

Hayek and Yalda don’t serve dessert at El Taco because of the limitations of cooking in a shipping container, but have made up for it here with dulce Azteca (vanilla-bean ice-cream, marzipan crumble and pistachios served in a waffle basket) and hot churros with a chocolate dipping sauce.

There are more than 50 tequila options, local and Mexican beers, guava or mango juice from Mexican brand Boing, and cocktails including Spicy Margaritas, a Tequila Espresso Martini and an Oaxacan Old Fashioned.

Artists like DJ Kitty Kat play house and Latin music between 8pm and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

“Once the DJ starts playing, the room will light up in different colours and cool lights,” says Yalda, indicating it’ll kick off a party atmosphere. “There are lots of vibes here.”

Bar Mexico
39 High Street, Preston
(03) 9967 8947

Wed 5pm–10pm
Thu 5pm–11pm
Fri 4pm–late
Sat midday–late
Sun midday–9pm