This new Mexican joint serves up overflowing tacos, wild mushroom quesadillas and flaming cheese.
Let's be honest, we all love it when a new Mexican joint rolls into town. Mexican food can often be accused of being predictable though, with most tacos, burritos and quesadillas not leaving a lot of room for imagination.
But all it took for Los Banditos to dispel that notion was one small skillet of (literally) flaming Dutch cheese, in the process bringing new meaning to the phrase "Last night's dinner was so lit".
To be fair, most of the items on the Blair Street outfit's menu are far more in line with traditional Mexican fare — it's conveniently split into entrees, tacos, quesadillas and a handful of larger plates, with sides and desserts also on offer. We got a good mix from across the board and found, to our delight, that every single dish we tried was absolutely divine.
Let's return to that flaming Dutch cheese ($12), which was an off-menu special. A curiously large wooden board was placed on our table, holding three thick, handmade tortillas, a delicious eggplant paste and a skillet of gooey Dutch cheese, which was promptly lit on fire. Obviously a dish designed with the 'grammers in mind, it was nonetheless an experience, with the decadent cheese playing superbly with the soft tortilla and paste — an excellent taster to set the scene.
Next up were the spicy braised lamb flautas ($15) which easily lived up to the bar that had now been set. One of the biggest pluses we noticed straight away was the generosity of the portions at Los Banditos, and the hefty flautas come packed with juicy, flavoursome lamb and lashings of coriander and pickled vegetables (a common theme here), all lying atop a pool of mint salsa verde.
The Pollo al Guajillo tacos ($14 for two) with spiced chicken, chimichurri, pickled green apple and papitas were a personal favourite on the night. Once again, the servings are big — you'd be lucky to find tacos brimming right to the edge like these elsewhere in Wellington. Their size and design means they're messy to eat, but tacos were never really made for first dates, right?
We rounded off the night by filling what little space we had left with the wild mushroom quesadillas ($15), which featured pickled mushrooms, toasted pine nuts and artichoke chips, and came accompanied with the most beautiful truffle whipped feta dip. Light but also packed with flavour and intrigue, it's a superb option for the vegos in your party.
The Mexican food scene in Wellington is notoriously saturated, and it usually takes something special to stand out from the throng. We're expecting big things from Los Banditos, and have a feeling they've got far more than flaming cheese up their sleeve.
19 Blair Street, Wellington