Paco’s Tacos – MoVida’s new baby not up to scratch

What with today’s proliferation of blogs, the instant reaction world of Twitter and Urbanspoon-style reader review sites, we are all food critics. The blogging community gets a fair bit of criticism for our camera-wielding antics and no-holds-barred reviews, but I believe that’s only because PRs, chefs and restaurateurs are finally waking up to the power (for good and for bad) that we eating enthusiasts wield.

On the whole, us bloggers are not out to slam a place over the smallest thing, dish out snide comments for the sake of it, or cause some kind of cyber scuffle just to get more RTs. Here at Sharking, we strive to give a fair report on the standard of service, food and drink that we received on our visit, and are well aware that our experience does not represent the experience of every diner. With this in mind – check out our review of Paco’s Tacos and then go try it for yourself. It won’t break the bank and we would be genuinely happy to hear that we were just there on an off night.

As I think you might have gathered by now, this latest blog post comes with a tinge of sadness. We had hoped for great things – an alfresco taco eatery in the space once occupied by MoVida Terraza. We have loved gobbling these tasty treats across the city – from Mamasita, Newmarket Hotel and Brunswick East’s Mia Corazon, to the free-wheeling Taco Truck - and couldn’t wait to see how the MoVida crew turned their hand from Spanish to Mexican.

Can’t fault the set-up – a long timber kiosk with several serving hatches for food and drink, framed by a yellow cage wall and plenty of urban foliage. There are long wooden tables and benches, plus plenty of standing room and high tables where we imagined we would pass a leisurely evening, popping off to order wine, cider and baskets filled with meaty, herby tortillas to our hearts’ content. Not so.

First up – corn on the cob with chipotle mayo and queso fresco – easily the star dish of the night, but that’s not saying that much. I love the combo of creamy/spicy mayo, charred but juicy corn and tangy cheese, it’s been done all over the city and the serve here (for $6) is deffo more generous than at Mamasita. However, it seemed the pale shreds of queso fresco had been bumped up with the addition of grated Tasty cheddar. Which was ok, but felt like a bit of a cheat. When we looked at a few other blogs we found their pictures showed none of the impostor cheese.

Next, tacos – carnitas (pulled pork and pineapple salsa) and carne asada (braised beef, chipotle and pico de gallo) served in 100% corn tortillas with coriander, cabbage and spring onions ($6 each). One word: dry. Actually, 11 words: Dry, stale and like they had been sitting around for days. Now I love my food, especially on a Friday night when I have been looking forward to tacos all week, but after a few bites I didn’t feel I could continue.

And it only takes four tiny mouthfuls to finish one of these things to begin with! Just some kind of salsa or sauce would have helped immensely, the tortillas felt old and just crumbled apart, and the meat tasted like it had been drying out somewhere for a while. Really not pleasant.

Not prepared to stomp off in a huff we ordered the controversially fat-laden chicharrones – crispy chips of pork crackling with chilli, salsa verde, chipotle and lime. They had sold out. Cue us stomping off in a huff and very unlikely to return.

Paco’s Tacos
Level 1, 500 Bourke Street (access via Lt Bourke Street)
Melbourne, CBD
Tel. 03 9663 3038

Open for lunch Monday-Friday, evenings Thursday-Friday, opening weekends at some point we think

Pacos Tacos on Urbanspoon

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11 thoughts on “Paco’s Tacos – MoVida’s new baby not up to scratch

  1. Hey, I think we all share quite similar views on the whole blogging experience and reviews hmmm. Anyway, lovin’ your honesty in your reviews. I’ve walked past this place a zillion times but never actually thought of trying it out. Glad to hear I can save my money for somewhere else =)

  2. Lunched there today and agree with you. They don’t know how to prepare corn tortillas (i.e. heat them on something), the pulled pork wasn’t pulled, the mole was substandard and the chicharrones were too big to be easy to eat (unlike at los amates). the corn and chips were ok and the venue was cool, not a bad venue for drinks and corn but the tacos just made me angry. I have the feeling that they were just like ‘hey mexican is cool, let’s open a mexican place without bothering to learn how to cook mexican food from professionals elsewhere’

  3. Wow, tough review. I ate here last week and had a completely different experience. Although I have no knowledge of true Mexican cuisine besides the Taco Truck and Mamasita, I enjoyed eating here. While I did find the tacos dry, flaky and falling apart. The flavors were still enjoyable, as is the lovely atmosphere to eat in. However I will say that the Taco Truck makes far better tacos, especially because they double them up so they won’t fall apart. I love your honesty, it’s nice to see opposing views in the blogging community rather than PR driven ones :)

  4. What a shame! You’d think that it’ll be okay considering its roots! Sigh… Thank goodness for this, now I won’t have to crave it too much! I still want good fish tacos though!

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