Ioreth Tudor spent the better part of a decade working with woodfired ovens. He co-founded beloved Melbourne pizzerias A Boy Named Sue, now-closed Lazerpig and Wolf and Swill. Now, he’s showing off a latent talent for Mexican food at Pinche Cantina, a Mexican pop-up at Nasty’s.

Tudor’s not a trained chef but with the help of cookbooks, Mexican friends and Youtube, he’s cooking just like one. Friend and career chef Catriona Freeman (ex-Bistro Elba, Patsy’s) is in Nasty’s tiny subway-tiled kitchen with him, while his smiley partner, Lisa Galloro, delivers food to the tables.

The menu changes weekly but typically includes a few snacks (house-made tortilla chips with guac, and grilled elotes with manchego), plus three meat and three veg tacos. Unlike most of Melbourne’s Mexican restaurants, which use tortillas made at La Tortilleria, Pinche’s spongy bois are made on site daily.

This thoughtful foundation helps toppings like cochinita pibil (slow-cooked pork), birria (slow-cooked beef) and house-made vegan chorizo with nopales (cactus) shine. In true Mexican fashion, every order is accompanied by a communal caddy of various house-made salsas so you can adjust the heat and herby, floral aspects to your liking.

Tudor sources whole pigs from Barongarook Pork near Colac and butchers them in-house. While his beef braising cuts come from former dairy cows at regenerative operation Lakey Farm in Sunbury. Before they meet a taco, both meats spend time in a cabinet smoker standing in Nasty’s back alleyway, acquiring an even more pungent smokiness than you’d expect at an American barbeque joint.

Good as these meaty tacos are, they mightn’t be the main event for everyone. That award surely goes to the tacos dorados languishing at the bottom of the menu. The rolled and deep-fried taquitos, filled with velvety Dutch cream potato, herbs and queso fresco, are very good and demand a crisp beer or wine from Nasty’s front bar.

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Updated: July 6th, 2023

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