Hot Lips Hacienda
Highett-based Mexican eatery Hot Lips Hacienda opened in April 2017 as part of Steve Kingi and Liam Tighe’s vision for a “bayside invigoration”. Kingi managed Prince of Wales in the early 2000s and, in 2015, opened Vietnamese restaurant Hawker Bar and Typhoon. Hot Lips Hacienda is across the road.
The 85-seat eatery was designed by Splinter Society (which also did the fit out at Cutler & Co.). Unlike the usual sombrero-chic, old-west Mexican restaurant aesthetic, Kingi and Tighe decided to keep the space simple, avoiding stereotypes entirely.
The food is as Mexican as it comes. Kingi and Tighe went on a research trip to Mexico City before opening, then enlisted Sachiko Makihara (ex-La Tortilleria) along with Jonathan Nunez and Victoria Rodriguez – all from Mexico – to created a simple and festive selection of share-friendly street food you’d typically find in the capital.
The tender puerco estilo (pork) tostaditas, for instance, instantly recognisable in Mexico City, originated in the southern gulf state Yucatan, close to the border with Belize. This one comes on a crispy bite-sized fried tortilla from La Tortilleria, with refried beans, salsa and pickled habaneros and onion.
Or there’s the Caribbean-style ceviche with barramundi marinated in citrus, served with tortilla chips. It’s fresh and zesty with tomato, onion, avocado and chilli thrown in the mix. There’s also chilaquiles negros, a more authentic take on nachos, and churros for dessert.
Mezcal and tequila dominate the drinks, with 25 bottles of each. There are also five different kinds of Margarita on the menu.