Paco’s Tacos

Level 1 500 Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9663 3038

I’m supposed to be packing for Cairns but because I’m lovely and because I love you, my dear readers, too much I decided to write a quick blog before I go. Ah, the things I do for you guys. Okay, on with the story. When I heard that my beloved MoVida Terraza was closing, I wept like a mofo. But when I heard that the MoVida guys were replacing it with a taco kiosk, my mood instantly lifted. Tacos on a terrace? Can’t argue with that!

The taco kiosk, called Paco’s Tacos, is supposedly named after a Mexican revolutionary. This seemed apt to me, seeing as Australia is currently going through a Mexican cuisine revival where people are so over Taco Bill et al and in response, we’re seeing good quality Mexican restaurants and cafes popping up around the Eastern states of Australia. ‘¡Viva la Revolución!’ I say! Paco’s Tacos is open for lunch during the week, with extended hours from Wednesday to Friday to cater to the end-of-week drinks crowd. I had a day off the other week and so did Dave so we decided to catch up over some tacos.

At Paco’s, all tacos are ‘only’ six dollars. This is probably laughable if you’re coming from the US of A and are so used to 99 cent tacos that are actually GOOD but hey, this is Australia so it’ll be a while (if ever) before we can see cheap and good quality tacos. But anyway. I ordered two tacos, the chorizo taco and the carne asada taco.

The chorizo one, a new addition on the menu, consisted of chopped grilled chorizo pieces, grilled corn kernels, and jalapeno salsa. Fresh sprigs of coriander and chopped spring onions completed the package. To be honest, I can’t say that this taco was particularly fantastic. The soft shell corn tortillas tasted and felt like they weren’t lightly toasted like they SHOULD be, and in fact, were verging on dry – like they had been sitting in room temperature for some time. This, of course, ensured that the tacos weren’t fantastic to begin with, but the filling did little to redeem it – I felt that the elements didn’t mesh well together at all.

The same went for the carne asada, which contained braised beef, chipotle and pico de gallo. The description was enough to make me go loco but sadly, I was let down. The braised beef came with its stew, a runny mixture of spices which would have tasted alright – just not on tacos! The juices made the taco shells soggy, and ripped it apart before I was even a third of the way into my taco (which had already fell apart). It was frustrating getting juices all over my hands – and it was a damn shame they didn’t have cutlery either.

I ordered a piece of BBQ corn ($6) on the side. One big ear of corn, held together by wooden skewers, landed in front of me drizzled in chipotle mayo, queso cheese and lime. Given my lacklustre tacos, I wasn’t expecting much but to my surprise, I found myself enjoying the corn more than the tacos. I’ve yet to try Mamasita’s much-lauded version of the same dish but I would imagine that it’d be as good as this. I loved the lovely combination of creaminess, saltiness aided with a bit of acidity and smokiness with each bite of corn. My only complaint? It was too friggin’ big, and I struggled to eat the whole thing (this was after I ate my two tacos which weren’t enough to fill my stomach up) – I think Paco’s should cut the corn in half, charge $3 (or even $4) for them so that they are more manageable to eat.

Dave had two tacos to start off with, the camarones (prawn, pepita sauce and salsa verde) and the pescado (marinated fish, chipotle and radish). Unfortunately, the lack of cutlery and the easy-to-fall-apartness of the tacos made it extremely difficult for us to share so I didn’t get to try his, and vice-versa. I will say that his fish taco looked a lot better than the monstrosity they served at Wahoo’s, though. Meanwhile, Dave’s only comment was that he preferred the tacos they served at Mamasita’s.

He was still hungry after that so he ordered the pato asado taco, something of a ‘gourmet taco’ with its roasted duck, spicy mole and lime-marinated red onion filling. Like the first two he had, it wasn’t too bad – and I made some comment about it probably tasting like Peking duck – but again, Mamasita’s won in the tastes stakes.

Although I was initially excited about this taco kiosk, I ended up leaving disappointed – disappointed that I will never have a delicious lunch at MoVida Terraza again and disappointed that six dollars will give you a less-than-awesome taco in Melbourne. ‘Oh, but you’re paying for authenticity!’ one might argue. A roast duck taco? I don’t think so! It’s fine if they tasted good, but not if they’re mediocre. Meanwhile, you get places like Guzman Y Gomez in Queensland and New South Wales that sell three tacos for $10.50 – and not only are they fantastic, their soft shell ones don’t fall apart either. Oh, and they actually fill you up too.

So while most people are happy with with Mexican revival business going on, I think I can speak for most when I say that said revival needs to bring in GOOD food.

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  1. That corn looks insanely good. When I moved to Oz from the states at first I said, “it costs how much???”

    I’ll never forget what my new husband said, “That’s just what it costs here. Comparing it to the states isn’t going to lower the price. Do you want to live there?” I assumed he meant alone. 🙂 I’ve never said it since.

  2. Mamasita. Paco’s Tacos… Good stuff, but then haven’t really been back to those joints cos of the wait for seats and lack of friends who are willing/free to try new things… Sad fact of life that when I crave a decent, cheap taco, I just head to Mad Mex 🙁

    …we need more taco trucks!

  3. Haha… you cracked me up here. Did not know that tacos cost so little in the US. Bring to mind the woeful tacos I had at Newmarket Hotel, they were $16-17 for two, now I know how marked up the prices were!

  4. Urgh, would hate for my tacos not to be lightly toasted, dry shells are the worse! Only wish we could get US prices and quality here, still dreaming of some I had in Brooklyn….mmmm………

  5. Awww… It’s too bad the tacos weren’t that great here. But then again, I’ve always been a crispy taco kinda guy. Least you had the corn which seemed like the saving grace of the meal! I can’t believe that Movida branch is closing down even before I got to try, grrr… Anyway, HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY IN CAIRNS!!! I just went there for a grad trip to dive in the GBF last December and it was AMAZING. Am sure you’re gonna enjoy it heaps. Go nuts, kay! =D

    1. Yeah, I hate it when restaurants close before I even get the chance to make a booking for dinner. Serves me right for not booking soon enough, I guess :p

      Did you do the PADI diving course? I’m thinking of going for it and the GBR would be an amazing place to get certified 🙂

  6. Have you tried Kelly Cube’s Tacos? They are a Melbourne based fresh gourmet meal kit company. Meal Kits come complete including the meat, even the sour cream.
    I followed the recipe and it took 10 mins to have Texas BBQ Chicken Tacos on the table. AAA+++
    You should google them, they are based in Melbourne. Google Kelly Cube

    1. Hi Cam, I haven’t tried Kelly Cube but I’ve just had a quick look at their website and the meals do look delicious. I’ll definitely keep them in mind when I feel like Mexican at home 🙂

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