Tacos in the sun

Paco’s Tacos

Level 1, 500 Bourke Street, CBD (corner of William)

Paco's servery

Do you remember where you were when you first heard about Paco’s Tacos? For me it was momentous, much like Princess Diana crashing, MJ dangling a baby out a window or Kim Kardashian getting divorced, it was the kind of defining moment that I will never forget (at least for the next few weeks). Last Thursday I was sitting at my desk taking an afternoon internet break when I saw some tweets from Emily from it pleases us about a new place called Paco’s Tacos on Bourke Street. I was so excited that I think I actually squealed a little. It’s ok, people in the office already think I’m weird.

Why was I so excited? Well, two reasons. Firstly I love a good taco and think that having more of them readily available in the city at lunch time can only be a very good thing. Secondly my car is called Paco – yes, I am that person who named their car. He is named after Paco the gay Cuban valet/butler in the 1996 movie Mrs Winterbourne which stars a still slightly large 30-something year old Ricki Lake as an 18 year old, homeless, pregnant girl who ends up marrying Brendan Fraser after being trapped in a train crash with his identical twin Brendan Fraser. Yes someone made that movie and yes I own it. What does it have to do with tacos? Not a lot. I still think the world needs to know about it though.

Anyway, Paco’s Tacos lives in the space formerly occupied by the Movida terrace. It serves a selection of soft shell tacos and other mexicany snacks as well as sangria, jarritos soft drinks and so on. I’ve read that the fitout was by Joost (of Greenhouse, Hare & Grace etc). Even if that’s not true it definitely has a bit of a Greenhouse-y vibe about it, it’s very contemporary and there are an abundance of pot plants. There isn’t a lot of seating (maybe 30 or so seats) but there are also some stand up bars towards the back. It was pretty busy when we visited on Tuesday and I would put money on it getting a whole lot busier before too long.  According to Melbourne Gastronome (who obviously I trust implicitly in all things food related) at the moment it’s open weekday lunches and dinner Thursday and Friday. Get in quick before the queues are out the door/umbrella.

Paco's tacos

We ate
I should explain first that all tacos are $6 and come served with coriander, cabbage and spring onion. There are 6 varieties – carnitas (pulled pork with pineapple salsa), carne asada (braised beef, chipotle and pico de gallo), pato asado (roasted duck, spicy mole and lime marinated red onion), camarones (prawns, pepita sauce and salsa verde), pescad0 (marinated fish, chipotle and radish) and the vegetarian option, the veduras (pinto beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, queso and crema).

There were 3 of us. PE and I had a pulled pork taco with pineapple salsa each (the carnitas – $6). They were simple and fresh. For a lunch on their own I probably could have eaten 3 or 4 of these. Let’s be honest, I probably will one day. Yes, I know this is an awful photo and you can’t actually see the pork at all (other than the little bit peeking out in the bottom left), I was just so distracted by how amazing it looked in person that I forgot to get a decent shot.

Carnitas - pulled pork with pineapple salsa

Colin Hill had a fish taco (the pescado, also $6). He was a fan, finishing it left him looking sadder than Keanu.


After that we split some sides. First up was the chips and salsa ($6). The salsa, described on the menu as roasted tomato mint salsa, was amazing. Really, amazing. I wanted to drink the left overs out of the bowl. Luckily for everyone within eyeshot I managed to restrain myself.

Salsa and chips

Next we had the BBQ corn with chipotle mayo, queso and lime ($6). It was also really good, the stand out for Colin. The cheese was perfect and the corn was just BBQ’d enough. A Mamasita killer? Maybe not, but for $6 in the sun without a queue (for now) I’ll take Paco’s version any day. Just don’t think too hard about how 3 people with no knife shared a cob of corn.

BBQ corn

We also had the chicharrones – crispy chips of pork crackling, a little like prawn crackers in texture, with chilli, salsa verde, chipotle and lime ($10). One serve between 3 was plenty. They were super fatty  in a tasty kind of way. The salsa verde was good but we all ended up using these to scoop up more of the precious salsa. These are worth trying but are definitely not for the cholesterol-shy.

Chicharrones - crackling, salsa verde, chipotle and lime

All wrapped up
If you love tacos and other (maybe not super authentic) mexican food, get in to Paco’s Tacos stat. If you don’t love tacos you should probably still get into Paco’s Tacos stat. It’s a perfect place to soak up some sun (or, in my melanin-challenged case, shade) and atmosphere in the city at lunch. Get there before every man, child and dog within 10km of William Street have formed a queue.

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