With its easy-eating fare and big’n’bright energy, The Happy Mexican is adored in Melbourne. It has been for the past five-and-a-half years, first in Abbotsford then the CBD, and now it has arrived in Sydney. Owner Julian Romero brings the Tex-Mex menu to The Lansdowne, the big pub off Broadway that's been pulling beers since the 1920s.

Romero has worked in hospo for two decades. He was born in Colombia and lived in the States as a teen, nurturing his love for Mexican cuisine with frequent trips to Mexico City. “When we first started, we were one of the first who brought birria into the menu of Melbourne,” Romero says of him and his head chef, Jesus Rios. The duo garnered a strong following and has wanted to open a restaurant in Sydney for a while.

Customers can expect the “rock’n’roll” vibe of the Landsdowne to remain, just with more tequila, moreish tacos and touch-ups to the decor. “The [Sydney] food offering is based on The Happy Mexican’s original menu,” Romero tells Broadsheet. Duos of tacos like birria, pescado and a zucchini-loaded vego option join guac-topped wedges and chilaquiles. And then there are nopales, the Mexican cactus. The Happy Mexican serves the vegetable in a taco, with corn, potatoes and refried beans.

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In the future, there’ll be more. “We’re going to bring new items into Sydney once we get our heads around what works here,” Romero says. Rios (who’s from Mexico City) has captained the pair of Melbourne kitchens since their opening, and he’s been in Sydney training the team. If the Melbourne menu's anything to go by, we'll hopefully be devouring pirata, the Tex-Mex staple where a toasted tortilla is filled with marinated steak and melted cheese, plus big ol’ burritos and nachos.

The kitchen takeover at the Lansdowne comes with a special Friday and Saturday service on the sprawling rooftop – weather permitting. It’s the ideal hang to tap into the drinks menu.

Three varieties of Margarita are up: classic, jalapeno and lychee. And Mexi-cocktails like Palomas and Mezcalitos. A hazy pale ale from The Grumpy Mexican (Romero’s own brewery arm) joins the pub’s usual selection of taps.

The live music venue has hosted Billie Eilish, Wolf Alice and Violent Soho, and is known for nurturing musicians on their way up. Romero assures passionate patrons that the music is staying – with a mission to bring bigger artists to the venue again.

“We don’t want to lose the essence of the Lansdowne Hotel.”

The Happy Mexican
2–6 City Road, Chippendale

Hours:
Wed & Thu midday–9pm
Fri & Sat midday–10pm

thehappymexican.com.au/sydney
@thehappymexicansydney