Mexican-born cook Daniella Guevara, who hosts “underground dining” experiences through her Mi Mero Mole enterprise, has secured a St Vincent Street property through Renew Adelaide and is hoping to open her new shop around the end of September.
The former computer shop is currently undergoing a complete refit which Guevara says will see it transformed with a bold colour scheme – red, turquoise, yellow, purple “and maybe a hint of pink” – tiled walls, lamps and pictures of Mexico.
“It will be like a traditional Mexican taqueria … everything will be very bright.
“The idea is to make it welcoming, not something cold, so I hope we can get people to feel cosy.”
For Guevara, a marine biologist by training who came to Australia eight years ago, La Popular Taqueria is the realisation of a dream to turn her love of cooking Mexican food into a business.
It will serve a range of different tacos – the traditional Mexican variety made with soft tortillas, not crunchy shells – including one with cochinita pibil, a filling of pork flavoured with orange juice and spices, then wrapped in banana leaves and slow-roasted.
“It’s a dish that comes from the south-eastern region of Mexico, and it goes with pickled onions and a very, very spicy sauce made with habanero chillies,” Guevara says.
The menu will also include tacos with chicken mole (a rich dark sauce made with dried chillies, spices and chocolate), chicken tinga (cooked with tomatoes and chipotle chilli), and several vegetarian options filled with a combination of vegetables and black beans.
There will be a selection of salsa options, along with side dishes such as Mexican rice and black beans, and vegetable pickles.
The maize-flour tortillas will be made on site.
“That is something that is very important to us – we want to show people how they are made,” Guevara says.
“They can see how a fresh tortilla makes a taco completely different. The tortilla needs to be very good because otherwise the taco won’t be as tasty as it can be – that’s a basic.”
Guevara is applying for a liquor licence with the intention of serving quality tequila and Mexican beers alongside South Australian craft brews and wine. La Popular Taqueria will also offer non-alcohol Mexican drink options, such as the taqueria staple horchata, which is made with rice, and lemonade with chia seeds.
The small restaurant will be able to seat around 30 people, as well as doing takeaway.
While she is focussed on getting La Popular Taqueria up and running, Guevara’s Mi Mero Mole underground dinners – multi-course Mexican feasts hosted at her home for around 16 diners – have been put on the backburner. However, she hopes to eventually host special dinners at the restaurant every couple of months.
Having moved to Port Adelaide only relatively recently, she says she is encouraged by the strong sense of community, with locals expressing excitement about the new restaurant.
“It’s a good moment for us to open here because I think it [the Port] is getting busier… more people are seeing it as a destination to come and visit and eat.
“I hope people will really enjoy the food and come to have some real traditional Mexican tacos.”
Located at 226 St Vincent Street, La Popular Taqueria will be just up the street from the historic Port Admiral Hotel, which has been restored and is set to re-open under the management of a team of high-profile Adelaide hospitality entrepreneurs. As reported last month, SA craft brewery Pirate Life Brewing is also planning to open a new brewery in the Port in 2018, possibly with a 200-250-seat hospitality venue.
The area is also welcoming new arty endeavours, including the Cult & Harper art gallery, studio space and retail store which is scheduled to open on St Vincent Street next month, and Fontanelle Gallery, also on St Vincent St, which opened in February.
You can follow the progress of La Popular Taqueria on its official Facebook page.
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