Viva Mexico Newtown
Tuesday12:00 – 9:00 pm.
Wednesday12:00 – 9:00 pm.
Thursday12:00 – 9:00 pm.
Friday12:00 – 9:00 pm.
Saturday12:00 – 9:00 pm.
Sunday12:00 – 8:00 pm.
161 Riddiford St, Newtown
After five successful years in the city, Viva Mexico has put roots down in Newtown. Owner Antonio Gonzales’ el neuvo bebe is far roomier than the cosy Leftbank taquería but captivating all the same.
Black chandeliers hanging from walls painted in a brilliant shade of sunset, chilli beer, and water served ice-cold from recycled Jose Cuervo bottles all contribute to a lively atmosphere that’s tempered only by the moody eyes of Frieda Kahlo and Emilio Zapata gazing out over patrons.
The menu is helpfully illustrated to give some idea of what you’re getting yourself into and whether they’re grilled or steamed, most of Viva Mexico’s meals have a veggie or meat option. They’re served with a sauce of your choice, usually red or green salsa or mole, a dark sauce that incorporates the sweet and spicy notes of chilli and chocolate. If that sounds appealing, a rich Mexican coffee blended with cinnamon is also probably in order.
If you’re keen to try something a bit different, Tamal is a very traditional dish. Your filling of choice comes in a soft corn tortilla that’s wrapped inside a banana leaf and served with beans. For those of you more familiar with ‘Kiwi-Mexican’, Taco Tuesday means you’ll get two for ten bucks and their quesadillas, served with highlighter-pink pickled onions, are about as tasty as it gets. Breakfast huevos are served fried or scrambled and Viva Mexico also has a great line in smaller bites like stuffed jalapenos, corn fritters or Sopa de Tortilla –made with shredded chicken and crispy tortilla strips.
Tired of cooking what Mexicans didn’t eat, Antonio started Viva Mexico with fellow directors David de Orta Jimenez and Luis Geurrero Reyes to cook the real deal for Kiwis at reasonable prices. His chefs all hail from his hometown Mexico City, where the flavour of street food has been refined by the tastes of their families and 43 million people.
Anyone can learn how to cook Mexican, but Antonio’s a firm believer in the principle that “you have to grow up with a food to have the hand to season it”. The right ingredients are just as important, and while many of Viva Mexico’s are imported for their essential flavours, he is also working with a local farmer to grow the right habaneros and little green tomatillos just up the coast in Otaki.
Words by Matt Paterson & Photography by Alyssa Boobyer
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