“How come we’ve never been here before?” We shake our heads as we walk away from La Barrita, impressed.
Nestled in between Fins and Bombay Cricketers Club in Salt Village, La Barrita opened in December 2017, slipping quietly onto the tail end of the ‘Mexican wave’ of coastal openings.
While the opening of some restaurants begins with a bang, others operate on building a slow burning heat, gathering custom as they progress. These are the silent achievers we tend to underestimate; the ones who quietly get the job done providing unpretentious food and service that people love.
Experience shows. Owned by Anna and Marco Cenfi (ex-Mangroves at Seagulls and Bellini, and owners of Piccolo Gelato), La Barrita displays the assurance of a well-established restaurant.
Very elegantly decorated with colourful Mexican tiles, on the day we visit, the restaurant is full of locals who are greeted by name along with a scattering of tourists. Despite the restaurant being almost full, table service is friendly and fast, delivering vibrantly fresh food to diners.
Though we’re sitting on the undercover al fresco area of the restaurant, we can see through the restaurant to the open kitchen where two chefs are working tirelessly.
“The chefs are constantly prepping, because everything is cooked to order,” our waitress Yvonne tells us. “We have a lot of return business, with lots of takeaways during the week.”
There’s a large grill on show in the kitchen where enchiladas are finished off, but we’re heading for more summery dishes on a bright but humid day.
From fresh slices of luscious marinated fish in our Ceviche ($18.50) to Pescador Taco, corn chip-crusted fish with a fresh mango salsa and chilli lime dressing where you can eat the bowl ($16), each dish sings with flavour.
Served on beautiful earthenware plates, this is food that makes you remember why we all love Mexican. It’s not a full exploration of Mexican flavours, nor do we experience the mind-numbing heat of some Mexican dishes. Rather, it’s a fresh simple take on Mexican food that Aussies love using local ingredients that zing with flavour.
There’s lots of choice on the menu, divided into ‘start and share’ dishes, tostadas, tacos, quesadillas and bigger plates, priced for every day dining with most dishes ranging from $12 – $18. There’s even a kids’ menu to cater for family dining.
While there are many family favourites such as nachos, quesadillas and tacos, several dishes are unique to La Burrita, including Taquitos – cigar-like corn tortillas filled with slow-cooked beef ($12). For dessert, we can’t go past the churros with chocolate dipping sauce or the sweet taquitos dipped in caramel.
Of course, no Mexican meal is complete without a margarita, with the large ‘barrita’ (bar) offering a good range of cocktails, beer and wine (most under $30 per bottle).
But there’s better yet. Taking pride of place in the bar are about one hundred different bottles of tequila. First distilled from the blue agave plant by conquering Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, tequila production is now recognised by UNESCO as part of the cultural heritage of Mexico. La Barrita has one of the best-stocked tequila bars we’ve seen. What a choice!
While La Barrita does not profess to shatter any boundaries, it delivers on the ‘fresh and flavoursome’ front – healthy, everyday dining delivering excellent food at the right price. We’ll raise a glass of tequila to that! A little winner!
4 Bells Blvd., Kingscliff, NSW Ph: 02 6674 8487
Open: Mon – Fri 5.30 – 9.30pm; Sat – Sun 12 noon – 3pm, 5.30 – 9.30pm
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of La Barrita.