I love El Publico. If I name my top five restaurants people must try when in Perth, it’s always one I include. With Chef Tommy on the pots and pans in the kitchen, and the bar slinging out some fun tequila based cocktails, it’s a guaranteed good time. So hearing that they were branching out and opening a sister joint in Leederville called La Vida Urbana, I was struck with immense excitement. Even more so upon discovering that unlike the dinner based El Publico, this venue was breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hell. Yes.
I’ve been twice already since the doors opened. Once for breakfast on their second day open, and then back for lunch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Both times were good. Very good, I’d even say. Mexican is mine and Jeremy’s weekend – not the Tex-Mex kind of stuff, but the dishes that are jam packed with flavour, interesting ingredients and an underlying nod to spice. Mexican is a cuisine I am all too happy to indulge in time and time again.
The breakfast menu still has a Mexican flair to it, but is welcoming even to the most simple of palates. From chorizo scrambled eggs with tacos rather than bread ($14.00) to an impressive serving of cowboy beans with chorizo, bacon, smoked tomato and huevos ($15.00) – there is something for everyone.
The latter was a real crowd pleaser from our meal there, as was my avocado on toast with charred corn and huevos ($14.00). The burst of lime acidity and the scattering of queso and chilli made it flavourful and must more interesting than your standard avo smash you find at other cafes about town.
If you’re more of a sweet tooth, the seasonal fruit with coconut, chia and lime was on El Publico’s menu when they did a brief foray into brunch (obviously trialling the run for here!). It packs a punch but still manages to be light and refreshing.
Otherwise there is the pancakes with crema ice-cream, chilli butter and maple syrup ($12.00). Yum. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s a fun dish – from the heat of that chilli to the structural integrity of the base. There’s a lot to like here, and if you like to dine out anything like I do, a great dish to share between two after your savoury items.
After all, the pricing is quite in the low ranges for a breakfast menu, so why not treat yourself!
The lunch and dinner menu at La Vida Urbana are one and the same, and I’ve eaten there quite a few times now so have eaten some pretty delicious things.
From the snacks portion of the menu: the guacamole with salsa rosa and totopos ($10.00) are tasty, though I did find the tortilla chips too hard for my liking. But the school prawns with el diablo mayo ($12.00) and the burnt eggplant dip with tortillas ($8.00) are super delicious. Nothing fancy about the plating, just bold and honest ingredients and flavours. That eggplant might look off putting but trust me it is tasty!
From the picking section of the menu, the chorizo fried rice with corn, jalapeño, spinach and fried huevo ($17.00) is a playful extension of the Mexican flavours in a representation I haven’t come across before. Tasty? Sure was. But probably not the most exciting thing on the menu.
The nacho grande with beans, queso, avocado, salsa and crema ($18.00) is great for sharing amongst a group of people. While it does use those really hard tortilla chips from the guacamole, the dish is diverse and full of flavour. Queso really is the key to my heart.
Just like El Publico, you’d be silly to come to La Vida and not indulge in tacos. My favourite was the smoked chicken with peanut mole, crema and brittle ($8.00) though the carnitas with salsa rosa, pineapple and chicharron ($8.00) and parilla fish with cabbage, pico de cucumber, avocado and baja salsa ($8.00) also deserve special shoutouts.
The bistec con queso with salsa mocha and nacho crumb ($8.00) sounded promising with the combination of steak and cheese, but I did find it needing a sauce to bring it all together.
Other visits here have seen me try even more dishes such as the lamb ribs with tamarind and pico de mango ($20.00) – an absolute winner!, the brussel sprouts with frijol, queso fresco, amaranth and pecans ($16.00) and the skirt steak with frijol bianco, chiles toreados, machaca and chipotle mayonnaise ($30.00).
Everything is fresh, tasty and screams of authentic Mexican flavours.
I’m a big fan. Much like El Publico, I have found a new regular spot for me to attend – whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner.