When the previous tenants of this St George's Road premises left a fully functioning bakery out the back, the El Chino team stuck some bun-rollers into one kitchen and Mexican chef Alfonso ‘Fonz’ Foncerrada (Cafe Rosamond, Seven Seeds) in the other to do Mexican brunch.
In the white tiled dining room there’s a bit of hard rubbish up-cycling going on and plenty of pastel mint paintwork. Nanna-style cream buns and rock cakes studded with sultanas fill a glass cabinet next to freshly baked loaves on the counter. Small tables with knobbly legs and marble finishes are cute as a button, but do expect some knee bumping with the clientele of pre/post Piedimonte’s shoppers, burdened with bags and prams. A courtyard area (still under construction) promises seating for 30 more peeps.
Eats wise, go for a breakfast plate of huevos divorciados (translation, divorced eggs). You get a pair of sunny yolked fried eggs, salsa roja (red), herby salsa verde (green) and refried beans soaking into warmed tortillas that will only set you back a tenner. Add guacamole or chorizo to anything for $4. Tacos hover at the $6 mark. There’s the Caribbean influenced cochinita pibil (a warm corn tortilla filled with citrus-y slow cooked pork stained yellow with annatto – the poor man's saffron – and topped with refreshing slices of pink pickled onion), or a fall-apart pulled barbecue beef taco doused in tangy tomatillo salsa.
El Chino! is currently unlicensed, so you'll have to forgo your breakfast booze and settle for a well made coffee. Single origin beans from Guatamala are the focus here or go for a grapefruit Jarritos soda – pride of Mexico.
Other than a few small issues with service (swinging from friendly and helpful to less than enthusiastic) this slightly unusual combination of homestyle Mexican meals, baguettes and lattes is working for us.