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 has lost none of its initial appeal. 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.