First La Cholita in Northbridge then El Publico in Mt Lawley, there’s no doubt about it, authentic Mexican food is certainly the flavour of the month in old Perth town, and while the aforementioned establishments are undoubtedly the funkiest and most happening places to get your
hands on some south-of-the-border cuisine, there are other more established, less flashy and certainly more affordable options available to those in the know. One such place is Juancho’s, a cute little stall tucked away inside the Station Street Markets in Subiaco that serves up fantastic Salvadorian/Mexican cuisine at a fraction of the price you’d pay at one if its younger, more ostentatious cousins.
Having moved to Australia from El Salvador over twenty years ago, Carlos and Haydee serve up mouth-watering Latin-American cuisine ranging from the classic tacos, burritos and fajitas to lesser known fare such as pupusas and the wonderfully named Acapulco Fajita. Grabbing a bite before doing my routine weekend fruit and veg shop last Sunday, I went for the Juancho’s Platter ($14), which consisted of rice, salad, chilli beef, two refried bean and cheese pupusas and a delicious chunk of grilled chorizo. It was awesome. The chorizo was smoky and laden with spices and the pupusas, which are kind of stuffed, savoury pancakes, proved to be an unexpected delight. However, when it comes to the beef, the plot thickens somewhat dear friends (but not in a bad way at all, so you can relax!). When you order, the kind folks at Juancho’s are nice enough to ask how spicy you would like your food. Me, being the dick-swinging, macho fool that I am, said
very spicy please. Thus I have no one else but myself to blame for the hunks of habanero chilli lacing my meal that can only be described as eye-wateringly hot and which, as much as it shames me to admit it, left me slightly incapacitated for a while. Luckily I had bought some delicious Mexican mandarin flavoured soda to accompany my meal or I would have been in real trouble. It was a huge plate of food too, so full marks for serving size. I’ve also had the Acapulco Fajitas there before, and providing you don’t mind pineapple in your food, they’re as tasty as they are amusingly named. Their breakfasts menu also looks really good too, so if I can haul my carcass out of bed early enough any time soon I’ll be giving it a try.
Now while the deliciousness, authenticity (they hand make all of their tortillas for example) and value for money offered at Juancho’s are more than reason enough to pay them a visit, there is an added bonus to eating at the markets: atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the newer, more up-market Mexican eateries that have been opened of late, but to me Latin American street food has its spiritual home amongst the hustle and bustle of the market, surrounded by a vibrant thronging mass of people going about their business. Just be carefull when you’re asking for chilli!