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Think posh tiki bar serving up mum's home cooking. Newly opened and already booking out, Luis Tans is on its way to becoming the next Bondi hotspot. It's easy to see why, considering the hype around the restaurant's opening and coupled with the owners' impressive resumes. Their now infamous character was meant to remain as an inside joke, but once the story got out Luis became the fictional mascot and later namesake of the restaurant. "It was a snowball effect" says co-owner Ryan Ginns (ex-design coordinator for The Grounds of Alexandria).
Backstories aside, the real star here is the food, brought to you by Venezuelan head chef Alejandro Franco Lancini. While Luis himself may have Latino and Japanese influences (this marriage mimicked in the decor and cocktails), the share plate menu is much more authentic South American than the story would suggest. The menu is mainly inspired from the dishes chef Lacini's grew up with; the 'El pan de abuela' ($17) gives an obvious nod to Lancini's grandmother, a dish that uses her secret recipe. It reminds us of a decadent French onion soup — the creamy, smoky leeks giving the dish a meaty flavour, while the sourdough bowl really soaks up the juicy stew. With a nod to the Aussie pallet, this is better than any meat pie we've had.
Of the ceviche menu, our favourite is the ceviche de pulpo y cobia ($19). Impeccably fresh and bright, the palm hearts add a meaty component to an otherwise delicate dish. The fish roe and red onion give the colour and crunch contrast that balances the dish.
The menu is quite a healthy one, with plenty of gluten-free, vego and vegan options. The mains, however, are all about the slow-cooked, sustainably-sourced meat, and you'll be out of luck if this isn't in your diet. The gluten-free Costillas de Res ($23) is just beautiful — 270-day-grass-fed and tomato-braised, the angus beef short ribs are the epitome of succulence. The chimichurri sauce adds a fresh, herby pop while the black turtle beans contribute to the richness of the dish. It's best to order one of these heavier meat options with a salad — the broccoli and faro ($13) is notable among the ensaladas.
Late night, this joint turns up its music and the bar scene takes over. The creative cocktail menu is well-suited for this crowd, like the Choco Loco Pisco ($19), a fresh, clean cocktail with a mild chocolatey twist. Questions? Just ask the staff — they are attentive and knowledgeable about both the food and drink menus.
With an ideal, tucked-away location just off Campbell Parade, looks like Luis Tans and his crew are here to stay.
Shop 7 / 157 Curlewis Street (entry via Gould Street)
T +61 2 9130 7875
Shop 5, 157 Curlewis Street (enter via Gould Street)
T (02) 9300 9470
Corner of Curlewis and Gould Streets
T +61 2 9130 3218
178 Campbell Parade
T (02) 9365 2683
Shop 11, The Beach House, 178 Campbell Parade
T (02) 9365 7775
R10, 178 Campbell Parade
T (02) 9130 1124
132 Darlinghurst Road
T (02) 9380 2145
163 Canterbury Road
T (02) 9718 7139
6 Heeley Street
T (02) 9331 6749
226 Commonwealth Street
Shop 2, 226-228 Commonwealth St
T +61 2 8880 0788
T (02) 9281 0822
Wednesday, May 9 - Sunday, September 30
@ Blanca Bar & Dining
Saturday, June 23 - Saturday, June 23
@ Saké Restaurant & Bar
Saturday, April 28 - Saturday, April 28
Saturday, January 13 - Saturday, January 13
@ Paddington Markets
Saturday, October 31 - Saturday, October 31
@ Entertainment Quarter
Wednesday, July 25 - Saturday, October 13
@ Etelek Pop-Up