Mexican-born chef Manuel Diaz is bringing the food of his home country to Nativo, a hole-in-the-wall taqueria in Pyrmont. Diaz is applying his experience working at top Mexico City restaurants to his new street food-style eatery. He also spent time as group executive chef at Milpa Collective (Sonora, Carbon, Santa Catarina) and as executive chef at Bar Patron.

The vibrant neighbourhood joint looks like it’s plucked straight from the streets of Diaz’s native Oaxaca, with vivid colours, patterned tiles and a pink neon sign boldly staking its claim as a taqueria. And you'll find tacos aplenty in this tiny joint, which is primarily primed for takeaway, but has 14 outdoor seats for dining in-house.

The menu is short, with a selection of tacos, quesadillas and other Mexican snacks. Diaz says Mexican cuisine was born from that country’s indigenous communities and ancestors, and he hopes to pay tribute to the location and local communities of his new taqueria by using native Australian ingredients.

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Everything is made from scratch in-house. Unctuous pork shoulder, basted in eight spices, is cooked al pastor-style on a rotating spit (similar to shawarma), a technique credited to the influence of Lebanese migrants in Mexico. It’s served in a tortilla with roasted pineapple and saltbush and morita (chilli) salsa.

Then there’s fall-apart beef birria taco. The beef is slow-cooked for 12 hours, and topped with Oaxaca cheese and zesty salsa verde made from kunzea (a native Australian plant). Native Australian ingredients also make an appearance in snacks such as the guacamole with lemon myrtle oil, which is served with corn chips.

“Nativo to me is like my playground where I can experiment with daily specials and crazy combinations and see how people like it,” Diaz tells Broadsheet. “I love creating that feeling of joy and seeing people's faces when they eat good food, which is why we want to be innovative with our flavours but use authentic techniques – everything has to be cooked in the right sequence to make sure you get the most flavour out of each ingredient.”

Nativo
Shop 6/45–55 Harris Street, Pyrmont

Hours:
Mon to Sat 11am–8.30pm

nativomexican.com.au
@nativosydney