Wednesday11:00 am – 10:00 pm.
Thursday11:00 am – 10:00 pm.
Friday11:00 am – 12:00 am.
Saturday11:00 am – 12:00 am.
Sunday11:00 am – 9:00 pm.
9 George Street, Palmerston North
On George Street you’ll find Libre, one of the best spots we’ve found for authentic and delicious Mexican food and drink in all of New Zealand. As soon as you enter this restaurant, the colourful fitout, Frida Kahlo mural, twinkly tequila bottles behind the bar and energetic atmosphere will give you the sense that you’re not in Palmerston North anymore, but rather in a Mexican cantina or Los Angeles taco bar. The open format offers plush nooks and booths for you to enjoy, as well as bar leaners and long low top tables for larger parties. Whether you’re after a true Mexican feast with mates or a quick margarita after work, this is the place.
On the menus, you’ll find classics that other Mexican spots in New Zealand often overlook. Elote, for example, is chargrilled and topped with a dash of mayo, cotija cheese, a bit of chilli and a whole lot of lime. It’s a snacker you didn’t know you needed in your life and pairs perfectly with any of the tacos on offer.
The taco list at Libre covers all the bases when it comes to fresh ingredients, slow cooked meats, punchy homemade salsas and the right balance of traditional flavours and modern accompaniments. The chipotle beef cheek comes served with pickled onion, coriander and pico de gallo or salsa borracha. House favorite, De Pastor, is made with pork shoulder that is marinated in chile and spices before being slow cooked, grilled and combined with pineapple. It takes time and care to prepare, but the deep, rich flavours make it all worth it. Every component is made fresh in house and served on a soft corn tortilla. The price point makes it easy to try a bunch.
Libre rounds out the food offerings with enchiladas, nachos, quesadillas, burritos and postre (sweets). One favourite, the vegan nachos, are topped with mushroom mince, walnuts, charred corn and black bean salsa.
Pair whatever you order with a tipple from the beer, sangria, margarita, cocktail or rum lists and you’ll be on your way to what feels like a mini Mexican vacation in no time flat. Libre’s got the classics like Corona and Mexican lager as well as three different types of sangria - the blanco, for one, is made with white wine, hibiscus rose tea, citrus honey syrup, orange and cranberry. The margita menu is full of both shaken and stirred options.
Last, but not least, Libre offers carefully curated tequila and mezcal lists. Mezcal, like tequila, is made with agave but features distinctive smoky flavours as a result of the cooking and distillation process. If you already love it, or are curious, chat to the team about what’s pouring.
There’s a lot to discover at this vibrant local spot when it comes to food, drink and events. Check their social media for what’s on. Past events have included tequila and mezcal education nights.
Words by Olivia Sisson & Photography by Anna Briggs
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