Esteban

The Tequila Mockingbird team's two-storey Mexican restaurant is home to a massive collection of premium tequila and mezcal.
Marissa Ciampi
September 01, 2023

Overview

Paddington favourite Tequila Mockingbird brought its South American and Mexican flare to the CBD when it opened the doors to its pop-up restaurant, Tequila on York. That was then replaced by this permanent Mexican spot, Esteban. The multi-level venue is split into three distinct offerings: an upstairs restaurant, a downstairs mezcal bar and a laneway dining space. And now boasts two hats to its name.

In the kitchen, Head Chef Will Quartel is serving Mexican share plates created using traditional cooking techniques with sustainably sourced Aussie produce. Corn tortillas are made in-house daily, while the custom-built parilla grill and vertical charcoal rotisserie have been installed to turn out the likes of tacos al pastor and ironbark-grilled chicken.

Other specialties served in the upstairs restaurant include pink ling ceviche with leche de tigre, karkalla and fried plantain; seared pork belly with pickled watermelon radishes and salsa tatemada; and a massive one-kilogram wagyu rib eye paired with black garlic and chipotle butter.

Tacos at Esteban — Mexican restaurant in Sydney.

Meanwhile, in the basement bar and al fresco dining area, it's all about the street food — with tacos, ceviche and tortas on offer from lunch straight through until late (four days a week). Alongside the taqueria-style menu is an emphasis on mezcal and tequila, with a roving trolley pouring drops for patrons throughout the night.

Designed by Sydney architects Humphrey & Edwards (Barangaroo House), the space takes inspiration from the underground basement bars of Mexico City, as well as 1930s art deco buildings. The heritage aspects of the building have also been preserved, including its exposed sandstone walls, high archways and existing timber beams.

Upstairs, the intimate 45-seater boasts an open kitchen with counter seating, as well as a floor-to-ceiling mural created by Sydney artist Nanami Cowdroy. Other artworks include hand-painted and beaded bottles, which have been crafted in Oaxaca.

In Esteban's basement, you'll find leather booths and banquettes, plus a granite bar top and custom-built timber cabinets to hold all of that distilled agave. The bar claims to be home to the largest collection of mezcal and tequila in Australia. On the way in, take a closer look at the 400-kilogram front door, which was created from acid-aged steel by Byron Bay artist Daniel Heapy.

Cocktails at Esteban - Mexican restaurant in Sydney.

Images: Steven Woodburn

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