Hidden down an unassuming Coolangatta laneway, Clay Cantina has been the backdrop for Mexican cooking classes under the skilled tutelage of Kristal Smith, who long-time locals may remember from Currumbin’s Pop Taco and as one of the original founders of Goodness Gracias in Palm Beach. The venue will still host regular cooking classes, including a three-hour Cooking Social as well as a more extensive five-hour masterclass, however, will now open to the public four days a week. Clay Cantina is not what you would call a polished restaurant, it was never intended to be, it’s envisaged as though you are walking into a Mexican home kitchen and dining room or chilling in the lane on a stool. It’s unpretentious and exceptionally authentic, right down to the paper plates. The menu will change to tie into the upcoming cooking class, but you can generally expect a couple of different starters such as guacamole and totopos (corn chips) and flautas, which are tortillas that have been stuffed, rolled and fried to crisp perfection. The venue’s specialty is sopes, which is a thick corn base layered high with toppings such as chipotle chicken (tinga de pollo), mushroom (hongos) or pulled pork (cochinita pibil) with black bean, pico de gallo, queso and crema. There’s also a couple of street-style tacos that are dripping with juicy goodness. There are vegetarian options as well as vegan-friendly adaptions. Thirsty folk can sip on a house-made horchata, Jarritos Mexican cola, or for something a little harder, crack a tin from Young Henrys, a Laneway margarita or Paloma Fizz. There’s also a small selection of natural wines on the way. There are no bookings here, just roll up and take a seat. Enter via the laneway entrance on Chalk Street.