Thursday, 15 August 2013

La Lupita, Circular Quay

Ever since my first visit to London last year, I've been on the hunt for a non-Tex-Mex restaurant in Sydney that is similar to the likes of Wahaca. La Lupita isn't quite up at that level, but with the right combination of dishes, makes for a satisfying meal. On a sidenote, I don't think 4 pound plates of 3 tacos ($7 - 8 AUD) will be the norm in Australia any time soon :(

La Lupita is situated in The Basement, a music club that mainly hosts Jazz musicians. For the Jazz-haters, not to worry! The dining area is quite separate from the live music - except it might be a disappointment for those who want a dinner/ show experience. Having said that, the salsa bar looked very makeshift, with salad bowls to contain each different salsa type - so perhaps this particular arrangement was just for the one night?

Ordering consists of the following steps:

1. You are provided with a slip of paper (see below) and a coloured pencil.
2. Using the pencil, circle the quantity of each menu item that you wish to order.
3. Hand the paper to either a waitress/ waiter or the bartender.

We asked for one of everything, except for the special taco. This turned out to be a fatal mistake because we ended up with two tortilla chip baskets - albeit with different toppings.

Tortilla chip basket 1: Troelotes

If I were to return, I would pick this tortilla basket over the other one. The spiced corn didn't taste very spiced but provided a bit more texture and juiciness that the other basket lacked. The lime was quite dry, so there wasn't much juice to squeeze over the top, but the cheese, salsa and crema mexicana (as well as the corn) made up for it in moisture.

Troelotes ($10.00)

Spit Roast Hot Wings - with spiced chipotle, lime and garlic crema

Once again, not spicy. They were still tasty though - the meat on the bones was moist and the combination of the sauce and the charred, smoky flavour provided a bit more complexity.

Spiced chicken wings ($10.00)

At $6.00 each, the tacos seem a little steep. They are a little bit bigger than some others I've seen, which somewhat made up for it. One was pork, one was beef and one was chicken. Aside from bearing their respectively different meaty textures, I couldn't distinguish between their accompanying marinades. Slathered with salsas and toppings of our choice, though, we were pretty happy.

Tacos ($6.00 each)

Tortilla basket 2: Frijoles with salsa roja, crema mexicana, chiltepin (chili pepper) , queso de oaxaca (Mexican cheese)

As much as I adore frijoles, there was a bit too much starch and not enough of a spicy kick. It's still worth a try if you're into your legumes - there just isn't that much to say about it :/

Would I return? One day, yes. Although the menu is limited, the food isn't bad, and I really ought to sample their drinks.

La Lupita at the Basement on Urbanspoon


  1. Is Mexican cuisine meant to be more showcasing the fresh ingredients (salsas, flavoursome meats) rather than slathered in sauces?

    - Spidey

    1. Hi Spidey, nice to hear from you again :)

      How do you measure freshness? When I think of 'freshness', I think of cool vegetables/ fruit, spices and juicy ingredients (vegetables or otherwise). Flavoursome, char-grilled meat, no matter how close the source of the meat is to the restaurant, won't necessarily taste fresh when overly cooked or where the dish is meant to be dry.

      I think sauces, depending on the type of sauce and how they're prepared (e.g. lots of spices/ being spicy), can add to 'freshness'. So perhaps its the combination of sauce and ingredients... It's an interesting question, though. What are your thoughts?

    2. Yes, your definition of freshness is pretty much what I meant too. Tomatos (that actually taste like tomatoes - i.e. nothing you can get in Australia) cucumbers, lime, fresh herbs, spices, you get the gist, + hot and smoky, charred, marinated, soft, pieces of beef/chicken/pork.

      In my mind,the majority of Mexican cuisine in Australia is essentially Mexican street food taken out of the context, so in essence, the 'freshness' is also due to the fact it is meant to be a street food! If you kind of understand what I'm getting at here.

      Oh and, as for sauces, I was wondering whether typical Mexican food is so covered in sauces (once again coming back to freshess - no need to drown a taco in sauce if it's got beautiful fresh ingredients), having said that I'm no expert on Mexican cuisine...but somehow the idea of lots of sauces offends me hahahaha

      - Spidey

  2. Haha I guess you wouldn't need sauces if there was plenty of salsa or some other vegetable to provide moisture. I'd rather eat charred meat with sauce, though - I'm terrified of parched food :P