The multiple long tables and DJ booth allows this place to thrive in the evening. I have walked past it and each time it was bursting at the seams and was very loud. You wouldn't want to have a deep and meaningful conversation with anyone whilst the DJ is spinning the funky beats at 140dB so I made the strategic decision to join one other for lunch at the bar. The venue is just as popular at lunch with the corporate groups, who are always relatively tame. There is outside seating which was popular because of the splendid weather occurring at the time in Melbourne.
Interestingly enough the bar reminded me of one that you would find in Baja California, south of the Mexican border. Intentionally haphazard but at the same time a bit aloof gave it a bit of style. The barman was an interesting and amusing chap who quickly took my drink order. Avoiding the tequila as if I started in with that temptation at lunch, I would have ultimately passed out in front of the state library naked and that would have helped the Melbourne tourist drive or my spotless criminal record so I intentionally avoid it and the worm. I opted for Dos Equis beer and my drinking companion began ordering a blend of salsa with Sol beer. Think of a Bloody Mary but the primary alcohol is beer. He enjoyed it and had four of them as we ate tacos and played video games.
Touché Hombre's menu is primarily tacos. There are a selection of tostadas but for those inclined, the serve a snapper ceviche but also chargrilled sweet corn, fatty lamb ribs and of course tortilla chips with guacamole. We instead opted just for the tacos as it seemed the most appropriate considering the weather and the fact that we wanted to get stuck into the beer.
Carnitas ($6.50) which is 16 hour roasted pork shoulder, chipotle, chargrilled pineapple and pickled red cabbage was the first taco to be consumed. It was fine once some hot sauce was added as I found it a bit bland. The kitchen are very generous with the ingredients so it is certainly value for money but because of the quality of the tortilla, you end up eating some of it out of the carboard tray with a fork as the tortilla broke on both occasions. The pork was a bit soggy which led to the destruction of the tortilla.
The Pescado ($7.50) is fish, but it is battered and not grilled. The taco also has caper and dill pickle mayo, white cabbage and pico de gallo. The fish was fine but a chunk of it battered was a bit awkward, especially since you eat all of the fish after taking the first bite of the taco. That was my biggest gripe about the Newmarket Hotel - the kitchen provides you with a good flavour but it is constrained to one taste when it should be experienced throughout the lifecycle of the taco.
My favourite taco, La Cabra ($7) is braised goat, iceberg lettuce, radish, spanish onion and agave dressing. Fresh, simple and to the point. Although I did add some hot sauce to spice it up a bit, I ultimately ordered this again to have with the third or fourth beer.
I like the cheekiness of the restaurant. The final option on the taco list is "El Secreto" which is the secret taco. You find out what it is after you order and eat it. I took up the challenge. It ended up to be chorizo and beans. I liked the playful element and it encouraged the staff to engage with me more. This was good for the restaurant as it ultimately got us to order another round and for me the aforementioned additional goat taco.
It was easy to spend four hours at Touché Hombre when you add playing video games at the old 80's stand up console as part of your itinerary. Seven beers, six tacos and countless gaming losses made time fly. The decor is sometimes amusing and sometimes bizarre and in the case of the family photo that is located behind the bar, just shocking. There is a fair collection of tequila lining the wall. It turned into a fun and social afternoon which in a perfect world is all I really want on a daily basis.
Link to review
Corner of Lonsdale Street and Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9663 0811
My Rating: 13.25/20
Value For Money: 3.5/5
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
At the time of this post, only 69% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also like Touché Hombre.