I got a tip-off from a former work colleague that one of our suppliers, Josh Logue, had recently opened a new restaurant. So when Laura and I finally set a date for our overdue meet-up a couple of weeks ago, I was quick to suggest we check out El Capo.
The theme behind El Capo starts with their tagline "Good food for bad people" and the scene is set even before you reach the restaurant. Their website features a mix of restaurant photos with images and video clips of guns, blood and money.
The restaurant interior takes it even further - there are large wall murals on both sides, brought to life with cool retro props.
Seating is made up of six communal tables and a funky selection of mismatched chairs. Each table, with its own unique tin of utensils, a box of dominoes and a stack of faux American dollar bills.
The restaurant is fully licensed and the drinks menu includes a range of Mexican beers and local and imported wines. On the non-alcoholic side of things, we're intrigued by the tamarind juice ($4) and the horchata ($4).
The tamarind juice is served with a giant ball of ice and is tangy and pleasantly tart. The horchata is a cold sweet almond milk that we agree would make a divine hot drink.
Food-wise, it's Latin street food served a little bit fancy. The hook is that they're very well priced. There are four lunch options, all just $10.
Laura's mother has the arroz con pollo, a Caribbean chicken rice and Laura has the smokey beans which are chipotle beans with spinach, soft cooked egg and corn bread.
The serving portions are fabulous but neither of them are very pleased with their choices.
Meanwhile I'm slurping up my order of encebollado, a classic Latin hangover cure! It is a full-bodied spicy smoked fish soup with bits of tomato, onion and finely chopped coriander, garnished with gorgeous snow pea leaves and flower.
The house-made cornbread is complimentary with the fish soup and smokey beans. They forget to bring out Laura's but all is forgiven once we get a taste of them.
These golden round nuggets are scrumptious! There's also a flatter version (you get both) which has a touch of cumin and is seriously delicious.
It seems to be a bit of a hit and miss this time round but I'm so impressed with my fish soup and cornbread that I'll definitely be back to check out the dinner menu - which by the way, has some pretty exciting stuff including crispy school prawns with jamon and puerco de bocones which is pork cheeks with smoked passionfruit and congo potatoes!
52 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills NSW
Phone: (02) 9699 2518
Monday to Wednesday 12pm - 10pm and Thursday to Saturday 12pm - 12am