Get a taste of central Mexico at Teneriffe newcomer La Patrona Mexican Cuisine
Anyone who has spent time in Mexico knows that its food scene is incredibly diverse. In fact, the catch-all term of ‘Mexican cuisine’ largely fails to communicate the complexity of the country’s regional styles. From the seafood-based cuisine of Baja California to the African, Caribbean and Middle Eastern-influenced flavours found along the Yucatán Peninsula, the country’s culinary diversity is a far cry from what we know of Mexican cuisine in Brisbane. Thankfully, that’s slowly changing. The last couple of years have seen an influx of region-specific Mexican concepts arriving to our dining scene, and the latest eatery to make its mark is La Patrona Mexican Cuisine. Opening to the public on Tuesday August 11, La Patrona will shine a light on the flavours of Mexico’s Bajío region – dishes that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the city. Here’s what you can expect …
Although Rebeca Flores had toyed around with the idea of opening a Mexican restaurant of her own in the past, the idea was one that would gain legs only if the right space presented itself. Her vision for an informal family-friendly venue – reminiscent of the eateries of her home region of Bajío – needed the right sort of building to inhabit, and when Rebeca heard through the grapevine that the old Sourced space on Florence Street was soon to be vacated, she knew that the perfect opportunity had finally arrived. With the space in hand, Rebeca reached out to friend and chef Ariel Becerra (who also hails from the Bajío region) to helm the kitchen at La Patrona Mexican Cuisine, selling him on the idea of bringing traditional central-Mexican cuisine to Brisbane. Initially the duo envisioned La Patrona as a low-key taqueria-style venue, but when COVID-19 hit their plans changed. As the duo undertook some substantial renovations of the space (a sizeable DIY effort and a protracted one, as tradies were hard to come by during lockdown) the ideas snowballed and evolved, and soon the concept pivoted towards a seated dine-in experience with elements of the casual vibe initially envisioned. The resulting fit-out has rendered the space largely unrecognisable from its days as a cafe – a brand-new kitchen and bar has been installed, with seating now spread across the exterior deck (which is dog-friendly), a couple of group tables at the entrance, a small taco bar upstairs (perfectly positioned to catch some kitchen theatre) and the main interior dining section. In terms of vibe and aesthetic, Rebeca has aimed for authenticity – the use of recycled woods and a yellow-and-white colour palette help to evoke the feeling of wandering into a restaurant you’d find in San Miguel de Allende. Further showcasing La Patrona’s inspirations is a colour-soaked mural from friend Jane Angus Hellyer, which is imbued with Mexican imagery – from major culinary ingredients to Day of the Dead calacas and even a tribute to Frida Kahlo.
The region of Bajío encompasses four of Mexico’s 31 states, including Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Guanajuato, and Querétaro – a sizeable piece of the country that stretches from the rocky high-altitude centre of Mexico to the western coastline. Because of this, Bajío cuisine is naturally diverse, favouring not only rich slow-cooked dishes and soups but fresh seafood-focused fare as well. La Patrona is bringing together a collection of popular dishes, drawing inspiration from the region’s street food scene and traditional home-style restaurant cuisine in equal measure. The menu is divided into antojitos (something to share), enchiladas, tacos, mains, salads and kid-friendly options. Must-try dishes include the guacamole (mashed at your table and served with your choice of salted chipotle or chicarron and lime corn chips), agave-infused ancho chillies stuffed with traditional beef mince, lime-cured prawn ceviche, Aztec Soup (tortilla soup made from chicken broth and guajillo chilli topped with cheese, avocado and cream), Mole Poblano (a classic dish – chicken covered in Mexican chocolate and roasted sesame seeds, served with Mexican-style rice and refried beans) and Veracruz-style snapper braised with tomatoes, capers, olives and capsicum. La Patrona’s taco selection includes al pastor (spit-grilled marinated pork infused with grilled pineapple), beer-battered whiting with jalapeno mayo, chargrilled achiote-marinated chicken and garlic mushrooms with roasted corn, zucchini, guacamole and queso fresco. If you’re keen to get your hands dirty, the tender pork calf glazed in guajillo sauce with cactus salsa can be carved at the table and divvied up onto tortillas as well. Speaking of tortillas, La Patrona sources its organic corn-flour tortillas from Doña Cholita in the Byron Bay hinterland. La Patrona’s bar stocks a substantial array of Mexican beverages, from beer (Dos Equis is available off tap) to a selection of Mexican wines. Unbeknownst to some, the Baja California peninsula is a fertile up-and-coming wine region, with various smooth blends boasting traits reminiscent of French wine. La Patrona’s back bar is stocked with a selection of spirits, though naturally the range favours tequila. The tequila selection will expand over time, but for now guests can sip on Patrón, Don Julio, Herradura and 1800. As for cocktails, margaritas are available (of course) alongside a selection of tipples popular in regional Mexico. If you ask for a Flag, you’ll receive a sipping tequila paired with spiced tomato juice and lime juice (each representing a colour of Mexico’s flag), while the Charro Negro (Mexico’s twist on the Cuba Libre) substitutes rum for tequila, served with cola, lemon and a salted rim.
La Patrona Mexican Cuisine officially opens to the public on Tuesday August 11. For operating hours and contact details, head to the Stumble Guide.
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