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Ela Carte reviews: El Atino, Richmond

MML

El Atino – 366 Bridge Rd Richmond ? www.elatino.com.au

I am up to my neck in preparations for Brazil at the moment, so I thought why not fully immerse myself in all things Latin American ? hence the visit to Richmond’s El Atino.

Opened late last year, it’s a Latin caf?, restaurant and food store with a seriously authentic touch. Owner Alfredo is Mexican, his head chef Martin Zozaya is Argentinian, and he has staff from Mexico, Colombia, and Peru ? and the menu is just as eclectic as the staff.

We turned up on a Tuesday lunchtime when you’ll get $4 tacos ? so it was hard to say no to that. The tortillas themselves are made in house, which you can’t say often. I went for the iconic Taco el Pastor, pork marinated in achiote, orange, guajillo chillies and pineapple then cooked on the spit. Scorcher settled on the lamb barbacoa, marinated in a mix of four different chillies then slow cooked in a combi oven for around 11 hours.

For the tacos there’s a bench’o’sauces ? home-made salsas to adorn your taco. No real explanation on what they are, but that’s half the fun. I asked the question, and can tell you there’s a ‘Xne-pic’ salsa from Mexico’s Yucatan Pensinsula with red onions, habanero chilli, orange juice and coriander; Green salsa with tomatillo and jalapeno; and a red salsa with fried tomato, onions, jalapenos, coriander and smoky chipotles en adobo.

We arrived to a brand new menu, so I learned afterwards I was the first customer to order the new ham hock dish. Served on Angu, a Brazilian wet polenta, cooked with chipotles adobo, it features slow cooked ham hock, gorgeous goat curd, a poached egg, and Colombian fried cassava. These really are authentic flavours ? this dish needs the goats curd, and the adobo, the meat is gorgeous, but there is a certain charm in the almost ‘plain-ness’ of the polenta.

Scorcher went for a very traditional Peruvian dish in the Causa Limena. Served cold, it’s like a mashed potato stack. The Potato is mixed with the famous Peruvian yellow chilli, and the mash is alternated with sous vide chicken in aji panca (a Peruvian red Chilli).

At breakfast time you’ll get your avocado toast with a twist (in the form of coriander hollandaise) and at night it’s all about sharing lots of fun nibbles with friends.

The space isn’t kitschy Latino ? it’s big, bright and airy. It’s a good vibe, service is spot on (and with a gorgeous Spanish accent). Don’t leave without having a wander through the food shelves ? pick up some hot sauce, pickled jalapenos, empanadas or chimichurri.

If you’ve been to Latin America, it’ll be a nostalgic culinary reminder; if you haven’t, it’ll be an inspiration ? either way, it’ll be tasty. Que rico!

Lamb taco

Lamb taco Photo: Supplied

Peruvian dish, Causa Limena.

Peruvian dish, Causa Limena. Photo: Supplied

Pork taco

Pork taco Photo: Supplied

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