If I told you that dining at Mami’s Casa Latina feels a lot like you’re at a big family dinner, you might be hesitant to go. But let me explain. At the new Bondi Mexican joint you won’t be swamped with cuddles and tiresome conversations with your relatives (unless you happen to run into them – if that is the case, I sincerely apologise). Nor will you be delegated the task of doing the dishes. At Mami’s, you can actually sit down and enjoy your meal while lapping up the homey space – that, yes, could absolutely be your aunt’s apartment.

This family-style, friendly atmosphere is exactly what Mexican-born owners Erendira and Juan Perez hoped to create with their casual new restaurant. The couple moved to Bondi 25 years ago, and the idea of opening their own diner was often floated over weekly gatherings.

When the beloved Laurie’s Vegetarian restaurant announced its closure after two decades on Bondi Road, the Perezs decided it was time to scale up their family fiestas and invite the local community.

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“When the owner of Laurie’s said to me ‘I'm gonna close’, I thought, ‘Oh no! Not another fancy place – we need something for the family’,” Perez tells Broadsheet. “Since I moved to the eastern suburbs, there’s been a need for a place for kids, families and older people, something that’s affordable and not pretentious.”

In line with keeping things accessible, the team didn’t make too many changes to the fit-out. The building has three separate dining areas: the front room with an open kitchen, a middle room and the back “celebration room”. Most of the furniture has been inherited and upcycled from the former tenant, and the walls have been sentimentally adorned with ornaments and photographs.

“All the portraits are of mums, people who have inspired us in the kitchen – like my husband’s grandmother. There’s a portrait of her with a big, big, massive pot cooking a lot of beans.”

The most notable change to the site is the fresh lick of paint. The cobalt blue exterior matches that of Frida Kahlo’s house, now a museum in Coyoacán, Mexico City.

Making less of a fuss of the looks meant there was more time to craft the menu, enlisting good friend Mariana Beverido to take the reins. It’s a neat list of Mexican mainstays: street tacos, quesadillas, burritos, nachos and salads – with nothing over $20 (and plenty of gluten-free options). But cutting on costs doesn’t mean the team is cutting on quality. All meats are sourced from a Randwick butcher and the veggies arrive fresh each day.

Tacos are $6 each, or you can mix and match four for $20. The pork confit carnitas is the signature – and for good reason. The meat is marinated in orange for up to six hours before arriving atop a corn tortilla with onion, coriander and a tangy salsa verde. The birria beef is accompanied by a spice-laden cup of consommé for dipping (or sipping) purposes. For something heartier, go for a $10 quesadilla or burrito and add bacon, a hash brown and extra fillings. Honestly, it’s all good, so order confidently.

Hot tip: wait until you’re in Bondi before you buy your booze. The BYO restaurant is in cahoots with the bottle-o at The Royal Hotel across the road. Mami’s diners can score 10 per cent off beers and 20 per cent off wines. Or, choose from a neat list of non-alcoholic options from the eatery’s own fridge.

Like at all good family affairs, you can count on a competitive round of Uno as the night gets on. Perez has rehomed her personal collection of board games to keep the kids busy and encourage connection between neighbouring tables.

“What I want to achieve is for this to be a place where you can come and have quality time,” she says. “And to be able to afford it. And it’s not just families, we have tradies who stop in and then they come back and bring their girlfriends, and they have a nice burrito or a beautiful salad and play a game and I just love it.”

Mami’s Casa Latina
284 Bondi Road, Bondi

Hours
Mon to Sun midday–9pm

@mamis.food.bondi