Many would agree that it was Mamasita, opening her doors back in 2010, that led Melbourne's still-simmering Mexican charge. Now, six years, a couple of family additions, and plenty of location hunting later, owners Matt Lane and Nick Peters are at it again, having launched their second venue. The hotly anticipated Hotel Jesus has set up shop in the iconic Collingwood Post Office building, with the lofty, light-filled space now setting the scene for Smith Street's own Mexican fiesta.
As a casual tostaderia, Hotel Jesus eschews Mamasita's well-loved restaurant formula in favour of a more easy-going drinking and dining affair. Here, you can drop by for house-made tostadas, cocktails on tap, and Mexican beers, served straight from a supersized ice trough behind the bar.
With Yasser Garcia on the pans, expect a food menu that's authentic, lively and mostly familiar, running from ceviche and seafood, to tacos and those tostadas. Meanwhile, a "tacowey" (that's their way of saying takeaway) section has a more experimental edge, dabbling in a looser interpretation of Mexican cuisine.
Those looking to jump on the mescal bandwagon will find plenty of opportunity to do so here. Peters is Australia's only Master Mezcalier (it's a thing), and the drinks list he's created provides a solid introduction to the agave spirit — which comes just in time for summer. Backing that up, there's an expectedly great tequila lineup, a tight selection of natural wines, and plenty of easy-drinking, imported brews.
UPDATE JUNE 29, 2017: Because tacos taste even better when they're dirt cheap, Hotel Jesus has introduced $2 Taco Tuesdaze. Every Tuesday, they'll be whipping up $2 vego, chicken and beef tacos from 5–9pm. Book a table or rock up early.
Images: Thomas Friml and Carmen Zammit.