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Chica Bonita

Chica Bonita offers oodles of atmosphere and bang on Mexican fare. So go on, head north.
By Lena Peacock
September 01, 2023
By Lena Peacock
September 01, 2023

Chica Bonita is another reason to head north. Translated to 'pretty lady' in Spanish, local friends Sean and Luke Miller have created their own casual hang-out in a back arcade of Manly. It might seem an unlikely location, but it's the perfect spot to get away from the crowds that lurk around the corso and beachside haunts.

Although away from the crowds, it's jam-packed, and you'll be lucky to get a seat, but once you do, you'll be rewarded with well-priced Mexican and Baja California street cuisine and drinks to match.

There's a choice of seating at the colourful tiled bar or at one of the cosy tables. Surrounded by exposed brick walls, the romantic flickering of candles, exposed beams and just a touch of graffiti, it's easy to forget you're in Manly.

Chica Bonita Mexican restaurant in manly, Sydney.

Although there's the option of beer or tequila, Chica Bonita is all about the margaritas, served in salt-crusted jam jars with handles. The hard part is deciding whether to go with watermelon, passionfruit or jalapeño and orange.

When it comes time to order some food, start off with some classic tortilla chips and guac and potato and black bean quesadillas. Filled with sashimi tuna, avocado, pickled daikon and macha, the tuna tostadas are a must-order. The Japanese and Mexican flavours are a winning combo.

How the chefs manage to create anything in the tiny kitchen is something to ponder as you road-test the baja fish tacos, which are filled with nuggets of battered fish, shredded cabbage and slightly spicy baja creme.

Chica Bonita Mexican restaurant in manly, Sydney.

Also worth trying are the cheeseburger tacos that come with minced beef, melted cheese, avocado, white onions and mayo. For something a bit more luxe, get around the king prawn tacos filled with guajillo salsa, banana shallots and lemon balm.

It's also worth noting that you can up the hot factor at Chica Bonita on any of the meals with a selection of sizzling homemade sauces (salsa verde, chipotle and habanero). A word of advice? Definitely try before you go douse crazy.

With oodles of atmosphere, a huge selection of margaritas and affordable street-style Mexican cuisine, it's worth checking this pretty lady out when you're next around the Manly traps.

Chica Bonita Mexican restaurant in manly, Sydney.

Images: Kitti Gould

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