When Radio Mexico opened in 2012, there weren’t many good Mexican restaurants in Melbourne. The right ingredients weren’t particularly available and most of us were still being weaned off Tex-Mex.
Since then many more restaurants and produce suppliers have joined the fray, but Radio Mexico’s fresh, carefully prepared fare remains a benchmark. It helps that owner Adele Arkell has always aimed high. Radio Mexico uses an organic version of El Cielo’s regular nixtamalised white-corn tortillas. They cost more, but Arkell reckons they’re worth it. Ditto for the Herradura Plata tequila that goes into every Margarita (which are two-for-one on Mondays), with a dash of cold-pressed citrus juice.
You can taste this commitment to quality everywhere. In the totopos (corn chips) with house-made salsas. In the three-cheese nachos with roasted pumpkin and chipotle roasted pepitas. And certainly in the all-important tacos, which include barbequed pork belly and pineapple; beer-battered fish; and guajillo-chilli tofu with hibiscus mole.
By nature this is fun, shareable food. This idea extends to the colourful-but-tasteful room and the drinks list, which includes a handful of Margaritas, tap beers and the requisite army of tequilas and mezcals.
All this is brought into sharpest focus at Sala Esmeralda, the 20-seat private dining room that’s available upstairs.