When you walk into Wellington's newest Latin American bar, it's easy to see why it's been getting so much attention. And with a name like El Culo Del Mundo — which literally means 'the ass of the world' — you know it's going to be something a little bit different.
The interior is instantly friendly. You're greeted by a large bar stacked with craft beer and spirits (and tequila, of course), which opens out into a space that seems designed for sharing. Long tables line the far wall, inviting you to bring a host of friends and family or meet new people, and they're interspersed with smaller, more personal two and three seaters. The whole space has an interesting mixture of the open and the intimate; you have a sense that, whatever night you're after, you might just find it here.
The walls are stripped back and then patterned in blue and yellow, and the boarded ceiling is strung with hanging plants. A dividing wall holds archways painted with bright, colourful flowers, which add a great spark of light to the rustic interior. With Latin vibes coming from the speakers and super friendly staff, the place has the toe-tapping feel of a cantina.
The menu is just as striking, all Argentinian lamb cutlets, grilled corn and pig fat potatoes. All the meat is free range, and the seafood is ethically sourced, so you can leave the guilt at home. There's a fantastic selection of tacos — I tried the fried chicken, topped with grilled pineapple and orange jalapeño salsa, and, to put it lightly, they didn't disappoint. A must try is the guacamole, which is served in what looks like an earthenware cauldron, nestled among stacks of corn chips. It's the perfect padding for a couple of beers or cocktails on a night out. One of the more interesting additions to the menu is the Nuts & Bugs dish: fried Otago grasshoppers on a bed of peanuts. The bugs were surprisingly tasty, but as a whole this was the only part that felt a little gimmicky, as the seasoning was overpowering and the peanuts themselves a bit stale. But this hardly detracted from the experience as a whole.
As the menu changes daily, you can always be sure of a surprise when you visit. I for one will definitely be back. Funky, friendly and delicious.
Image: El Culo Del Mundo.