Melbourne’s newest installation to the Mexican food craze is Los Hermanos, an authentic Mexican taqueria with an injection of Brunswick edge.
Los Hermanos opened last Monday, after what some have called ‘the smartest marketing campaign ever’. Owner, Bruno has spent arduous months building the suave wooden interior from scratch. From the street, all passers-by could see was the roller door entrance with ‘coming soon’ spray painted across. The hype has risen through this mysterious exterior, along with an eager Facebook following of locals and Mexican food lovers.
As soon as Los Hermanos rolled up its door late Monday evening they had a queue ten deep waiting for a table. Despite all the difficulties they’ve faced in the past few weeks, Bruno says the hardest thing has been keeping people waiting for a table.
Mexican has become ‘the’ food in Melbourne but Los Hermanos feel that people are forgetting to keep it simple. Mexican is all about complementary flavour combinations with nothing too complicated. Los Hermanos are bringing Mexico’s ‘fresh and easy’ approach to food.
Their favourite meals consist of basic combinations of meat, vegetables, salsa, coleslaw and the like in a handmade tortilla. Bruno wants to create a warm and inviting space that resembles your average taqueria in Mexico, a place you can trust for a light, tasty lunch or late at night for a quick fix.
The bar, walls, tables and stools have all been built by Bruno and his friends using recyclables, and locally sourced pieces of wood slated together. Bruno is an avid sailor and constructed the walls out of old sail-making tables. The wood is more than 60 years old, and the imperfections across each slat mark their history.
History also rings through the menu. As a child Bruno used to sit watching his grandparents cook their salsa and Sopes, eagerly awaiting his favourites and picking up skills. He wants to introduce Melbourne to the authentic Mexican food he grew up with. Most of the good places in Mexico, he says, are ‘just a little hole in the wall with dodgy chairs’. The flavours that come out of them are amazing and nothing like the monotonously textured old el passo meals we attempted in Australian kitchens in the nineties. To ‘keep it real’ Los Hermanos have been sourcing rare chillies, cactus and Mexican soft drinks from specialty importers.
The cactus salad (above) is built around softened, marinated strips off the arm of a cactus. Garnished with coriander and lemon, it is the perfect little dish to eat sitting in their sunny courtyard.
Another new, quirky signature dish is their Sopes. Sopes are a regional, handmade corn bread circle topped with beans, chicken, cheese, salsa and jalapenos. “These are what my grandma would always make me on my birthday, I love them.” “If you went to Mexico, this is actually what they would serve,” says Bruno.
Everything is gluten free and meat dishes can be adapted to accommodate vegetarians. Once they have settled in, Los Hermanos hope to expand to Mexican breakfasts, hevos rancheros, a workers meal of beans, eggs with a tomato base, chilli and coriander.
To complement will be a Cafe de Olla, a sweet coffee brewed in a pot with cinnamon. Bruno also has plans to have a spit in which they can freshly carve meat off for various dishes.
He’s just waiting to fly over his “meat guy” from Mexico, a traditional ‘spit cook’ complete with gold teeth. We’re keeping an eye on Los Hermanos’ expanding menu, growing popularity and anticipated launch party – set to kick off when their liquor license is received, as it’s not a Mexican party without tequila, they’re all about ‘keeping it authentic’.
Los Hermanos 339 Victoria st, Brunswick. Open 6pm till late Monday to Saturday.