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Taco Time: Chilpa Is the Vibrant New Bayside Eatery From the La Tortilleria Crew

Melbourne's tortilla maestros have brought their famed corn creations to Highett — along with a solid lineup of agave sips and margs.
By Libby Curran
March 17, 2023
By Libby Curran
March 17, 2023

As fans of Melbourne's own La Tortilleria will be quick to tell you, not all tortillas are made equal. The brand has earned a cult following not just for its namesake corn-based creations, but also for its colourful Mexican eatery in Kensington. And now, it's brought its legendary wares Bayside, having opened the doors to its much-anticipated new Highett restaurant.

Chilpa has arrived in the former Hot Lips Hacienda site, decked out every bit as vibrantly as its inner-northwest sibling. And the team's legendary nixtamal (made using a special corn preparation method) tortillas and totopos (tortilla chips) are the stars of the show here on Railway Parade, too, showcased throughout a menu of punchy dishes.

The share-friendly lineup kicks off with classics like guacamole and salsa, refried beans, and chilaquiles — a dish that's kind of like the unbastardised version of nachos, featuring a saucy mix of totopos, salsa roja, crema and cheese.

You'll find ceviche for seafood lovers and vegans alike, a handful of snack-friendly topped tostadas and a range of cheesy quesadilla varieties, along with grilled meats like the al pastor pork with pineapple salsa.

If tacos are life, Chilpa has your back in a big way. The options are plentiful, ranging from a slow-cooked pulled lamb number with refried black beans and arbol salsa, to a corn battered fish taco with slaw and jalapeno mayo. There's a vegan-friendly barbacoa-style creation, a chicken option featuring chipotle tomato salsa and an ode to Jalisco's famed birria taco, paired with the traditional consomme for dipping.

You'll want to save stomach space for flan, too — this take on the classic is made from a family recipe passed down from co-owner Gerardo Lopez's own abuela.

The tortilla maestros also know what's what when it comes to taco-friendly libations and Chilpa's bar is stocked with an expert curation of agave-based sips from the homeland. There's also a tight crop of wines, easy-drinking brews aplenty and a lineup of festive cocktails — from the tequila-spiked horchata to a spicy margarita finished with habanero chilli.

Find Chilpa at 2 Railway Parade, Highett. It's open from 5–9pm Wednesday and Thursday, 12–10pm Friday and Saturday, and 12–9pm Sunday.

Images: Michael Pham

Published on March 17, 2023 by Libby Curran
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