At the far end of the Manly Corso, past the bustle of The Steyne, you’ll find the Peruvian-inspired Loco Madre. The idea for the beachside venue came to owner, Luke Cartwright, after an unexpected family trip to Peru.
The story goes, his mother was set to take the journey solo, but even after breaking her back refused to give up the adventure. “So, of course, we had to go with her,” says Cartwright.
The restaurant’s name was also born of his mother’s stubbornness: Loco Madre, meaning “crazy mother”.
But what surprised Cartwright more than his mum’s unflappable sense of adventure, was how amazing Peruvian cuisine is. “We realised how great this style of food is and thought with a little modern Australian influence, it could be even better,” he says.
That idea set wheels in motion. They snapped up another Manly venue (they also own Jellyfish and Beach Salt), and Loco Madre was born.
The restaurant’s main focus is on local produce and using the best Australian ingredients to bring Peruvian flavours even further to life. There are Latin American influences and the menu borrows heavily from Mexican cuisine.
Coriander, other fresh herbs and citrus are used generously and there’s spice-driven dishes such as fried-chicken with jalapeño aioli; charred broccolini with jalapeño cream and corn chip dust; zesty kingfish ceviche with rocoto chilli, lime and coriander; whole grilled South Australian king prawns in coconut, lime and tequila dressing.
“The key point is it’s all really accessible,” says Cartwright. “We’re right on the beach, so we wanted to keep everything fresh and make the food relevant to the location.”
Specials run each night, such as two-for-one Taco Tuesday where you can get tacos stuffed with hand-torched kingfish with Cusco (a south-eastern region in Peru) slaw and cacahuate sauce (peanut and árbol chilli salsa); or pork braised for 48 hours with pickled cabbage and pineapple salsa.
The drinks list keeps to the theme, so there’s pisco sours, a jalapeno and coriander margarita, and a bloody Mary made with tequila and garnished with pork crackling. The Day of the Dead cocktail is white rum, spiced rum, absinth and citrus-based juices served in a tiki cup and set alight. More Australian is a weekend coffee cart serving Little Marionette coffee.
For now, they’re hoping to get through the summer with a small selection of dishes, but visitors can expect the menu to shift and shuffle with the seasons. Plus, there’s a paella night in the works.
Shop 6, 93 North Steyne, Manly
Mon 6pm-9pm Tue–Thu 12pm–9pm Frr–Sun 8.30am–9pm