The distance between South Fremantle and Mexico City, according to Google Maps, is about 16,000 kilometres (give or take).
But Ben Foss, founding chef of food truck Eat No Evil, and a partner in new South Freo taqueria La Cabana, wants to bring the two places closer together – as evidenced by his menu, which combines Australian ingredients with Mexican dishes.
Al pastor – Mexico’s Middle Eastern-influenced pork and pineapple taco – dressed with a native strawberry and saltbush sauce? Check. Beef rib with a wattleseed mole? Unmissable. This isn’t your abuela’s cooking, but Foss insists his dishes remain faithful to the country’s spirit.
“It’s definitely Mexican cuisine,” he says. “We’re using traditional Mexican recipes, but we’re considering ourselves as a region of Mexico and using a lot of produce from here. We’re using a lot of coastal ingredients. We’re using fish from fishmongers Fins. We’re using indigenous ingredients and integrating everything into that Mexican feeling.”
So, the ceviche – piled on a crisp-fried tortilla, creamy with coconut milk and guacamole, zesty from a brief lime-juice cure – is made with Esperance amberjack; the drinks list proffers local beers and wines alongside small-scale mezcals and tequilas; the gluten-free tortillas are from La Tortilla, a family-owned business that delivers still-warm tortillas daily. While the menu will change frequently, Foss says he’ll always serve at least one vegan taco. All the vegetable dishes will be vegan too.
The aforementioned Mexican-ish feeling permeates more than just the food. Foss’s business partners Jarrah Stevenson and Madi Fay are responsible for the 120-seater’s relaxed, beach-shack aesthetic. While there are tables and bar perches near the cosy kitchen, most of the seating is outside in the dog-friendly courtyard. Umbrellas provide shade. Service is suitably breezy. Plans are afoot to build a straw-roof cabana for guests to take refuge in during the cooler months.
Judging by the crowds on opening day, there’s already a lot of love for La Cabana in South Fremantle, not least from the crew at Madalena’s, another example of a food-truck operator laying down permanent roots. Both parties are planning to build on their shared food-truck history by collaborating on future events. Lucky you, South Freo.
400 South Terrace, South Fremantle
Mon and Thu 3pm–late
Fri to Sun 12pm–late