The owners and chefs of Bondi’s intimate Mexican taqueria, Glenayr Avenue’s Taqiza, have opened another venue in the beachside suburb; they’ve headed up the hill to Bondi Road’s Hemmingway-inspired Rum Diaries and transformed it into a pretty 60-seater eatery.
Specialising in woodfired Mexican dishes, Carbòn Mexican Wood Fire takes its inspiration from the haciendas that are dotted through the Mexican Caribbean (Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos). It has white walls, custom-made dark-timber furniture and Mexican textiles.
“Taqiza is more like a beach taqueria that serves small plates of simple food, but Carbòn is bigger, and we can do more complex food,” says Pablo Galindo Vargas who is behind the operation with Liber Osorio. “If you go to Mexico now the restaurants have evolved and what we’re trying to do is recreate contemporary Mexican cuisine.”
The food is a step above your average Sydney Mexican fare and that’s partly because Carbòn (“charcoal” in Spanish) incorporates traditional Latin American parrilla (charcoal grilling) techniques and a caja china (roasting box) to create its dishes.
Its signature designed-to-share plates – which come with house-made corn tortillas and sides so you can build your own tacos – feature Hampshire suckling pig with achiote adobo (a red, peppery marinade) and Seville oranges; or roasted lamb shoulder with chipotle-citrus yoghurt. “Sharing food is a very important part of the Mexican experience,” says Vargas. “It means people can choose what they like and put together their own combination.”
There’s also a well-stocked bar with boutique Mexican tequila labels such as Fortaleza and Don Fulano, which Vargas says are good enough to convert those currently not fans of tequila. Carbòn’s house tequila is Tequila Ocho, but Vargas really wants people to get more familiar with tequila’s cousin, mezcal (distilled agave liquor). “What we’re trying to do is bring mezcal to the mainstream. It’s an easy drink, and to make the introduction easier, we’ve put it in a number of our cocktails.”
It’s used as the base for cocktails such as the Bondi Sunset with elderflower liquor, lime juice and mandarin, as well as the Oaxacan Pink Lady with brandy, lemon juice, agave syrup and aquafaba (the liquid left behind when chickpeas are cooked, also a vegan alternative for egg whites).
Carbòn Mexican Wood Fire
288 Bondi Road, Bondi Beach
(02) 9365 6092
Tue to Sun 5pm–12am