It’s been awhile since drinks, or should I say bites, La Cholita. This Mexican restaurant opened around four years ago with a bang and brought a new wave of share dining style eateries with it. Having worked down the road from ‘La Cho’ as we affectionately called it up until this time last year, it was a regular lunch spot for me. A cheeky beer, a taco and way too many fried flour tortilla chips to dunk in guacamole.
These days we usually gravitate towards El Publico when we do go out for Mexican since it’s my boy’s favourite restaurant. And though I do love it there, I like that La Cholita has a different and more simple offering. It’s perhaps not quite as authentic, but I enjoy the flavours and the relaxed atmosphere by day (which turns into a big party by night).
Now that I no longer work nearby, La Cholita has been a little forgotten to me. I keep meaning to go back, but with a never-ending list of venues I want to try (and my tendency to gravitate towards brunch outings rather than lunch or dinner), I just haven’t found the right time.
After a late start one Saturday morning, Bryony
and I caught up for lunch instead of our planned breakfast. Both hugely suffering from indecision we threw around about half of Perth’s restaurants before agreeing that Mexican was in order. Since they don’t open until 12pm we killed a bit of time in nearby clothing stores then ran for the doors on the dot.
Catchy salsa music was the backing track as we slid into a booth by the windows, ordering some guacamole with tortilla chips ($6.50) and tostadas to start things off.
I find the guacamole here perhaps not quite as punchy as I personally prefer, but the avocado is creamy and fresh, working well with the salty shards of tortilla. They’re a decadent alternative to corn chips, but I love them.
The crab meat tostadas ($10.00) come out as three bite sized treats topped with avocado and pickled onion. Since my first time visiting La Cholita, these have been a long standing favourite. The sweetness of the crab, the creaminess of the avocado and the tartness of the onion… it’s really tasty. I do think that the creep of price from around the $7.00 mark to this was an unwelcome surprise, and though I enjoy them, I’m not sure I’m willing to pay the higher price for them again.
The tuna tostada ($10.00) is topped with chipotle, avocado and fried leek on corn chips. Sadly our chipotle sauce was missing on these which removed the punchy flavour that elevates the other ingredients. I love the fried leek which is sweet and crunchy.
Again I’m not sure the increased price is quite justified, especially since the serving size of the tuna has been cut in half. While the flavour is enjoyable, I really miss the spiced duck tostadas which have left the menu now sadly.
The highlight of La Cholita’s menu is always the tacos. Bryony and I order two each. She chooses the beef tongue with ranchero sauce & coriander ($5.00) and the crumbed prawn with pickled cabbage & avocado ($6.50). By accident our waiter sends out the beef cheek with pico de gallo ($5.00) instead of the tongue, but they kindly sent out the correct version at no additional cost (yay for extra tacos!).
I picked my favourite taco there, the baja fish with chipotle mayonnaise ($6.00) and one I hadn’t tried before, the scallop with cucumber salsa, avocado & coriander ($10.00). The scallop was sweet and delicate, the cucumber salsa bright and vibrant. I did think it needed something on the crunchy side as the entire taco was quite soft. That said though, the scallop was cooked spot on, and had a nice caramelised outer.
The baja fish for me is always a winner here. The light, golden batter. The soft, flaky white fish. And the pickled cabbage underneath with the punchy sauce is all kinds of good. This is a taco that ticks the boxes of both flavour and contrasting texture and temperatures for me. So good! And for all things taco here, the bases are really authentic – soft but maintaining structural integrity even when covered in chilli sauce. It’s no wonder why I gravitate towards this section of the menu whenever I do make it to this place.
And considering the cost of the tacos is half that of the tostadas, there’s much more value in ordering more of these than the smaller crispier counterparts.
A quick lunch can still be a good lunch, especially with great company. We were too full for any sweet accompaniments like we’re prone to ordering when we dine out together, but I think that’s a bit of a blessing in disguise really! Hopefully my next catch up with Bryony, and my next visit back to La Cholita won’t be so long in between.