When Alma opened in 2017, co-owners Jack Leary and Tim Christensen wanted to emulate a restaurant by the coast in Mexico. But to ensure balance in their offering, they travelled to the country on a five-week research trip, focussing on the culinary capital of Oaxaca for inspiration.
And while seafood dominates the menu, Alma isn’t necessarily a seafood restaurant – meat and vegetarian dishes inspired by the climate are offered too. Expect five different tacos, ranging from Tecate-battered fried fish to pulled jackfruit and al pastor, each with a different salsa and other toppings to balance out the richness.
For mains, the twice-cooked whole cauliflower with chimichurri, tomata crema and pumpkin seed granola, and the agave-marinated pork ribs are both highlights.
Bartenders Zachary Morgan and Jeremy Johnston were brought in to curate the cocktail list when Alma opened – the two have gone on to join influential Melbourne bar Black Pearl and Manly’s In Situ, respectively – but the menu maintains that high benchmark. Mexico’s national spirit will always be represented, and there are around 40 varieties of tequila to choose from, and drink flights available.
Leary and Christensen – who was the former head chef at Manly’s Chica Bonita – says the popularity of Mexican food comes and goes but they hope their creativity will set Alma apart. And it seems to have paid off. Even on a cold weeknight, Alma is the busiest restaurant in Avalon.
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