Sydney doesn’t have a real Mexican food scene. Peter Lew and Nicole Galloway are hoping to start changing that with a new project in the old Hugo’s Pizza Bar site in Kings Cross.
“Sydney is familiar with American-Mexican stuff: guacamole, corn, tacos, burritos. But there’s so many different layers of Mexican food. We want to look at the regional cuisines and do something a bit different,” says Lew.
The couple, who met at Hugo’s, dabbled in the cuisine in their former venue Barrio Chino, also in the Cross, but their food was the Americanised version. At their new restaurant they’ll swap burritos and tacos for ceviche, grilled seafood and Mexican pizzas. “We're doing a Mexican-style pizza from Oaxaca called tlayudas. It's made with a corn masa base,” Lew says. “Hugo’s Pizza Bar was quite well known for their pizza back in the day, so there’s a nice story there.”
It won’t be strictly what Lew and Galloway have eaten on their travels, though. Lew says it will be a more refined interpretation and cites Cosme (an internationally renowned Mexican restaurant in New York) as a big influence.
“We're in the process of bringing in a chef from Mexico City. We’ve been working closely with him to refine [the menu] and get it to where we want it to be,” Lew says. Who it is remains one of the venue’s secrets, along with who will be running the bar. “I can’t talk about it now, but we’re looking to sign off a really amazing bartender. He knows mezcal and tequila really well.”
But Lew can tell us about the vibe. “We’ll have a lot of greenery, so it will be day-friendly. Very bright but not traditional, no cliche skulls and that typical, garish Mexican stuff,” Lew says. “We'll have quite a large bar with a lot of seating but it'll be primarily a sit-down restaurant. By no means will it be formal, but not really casual, either.”
The unnamed restaurant is slated to open in September.