Report on Mexican food: bad.
For the record, Chinese food is often not Chinese food here (or anywhee else for that matter). We had the most curious food in Burnie (Tasmania). Chicken satay. (yes, in a Chinese restaurant). It was breaded and deep fried chicken in a sweet peanut sauce. Beef with plum sauce... and mango. The list goes on...
Well, now you know.
My problem is an inability to have any sense AT ALL as to whether a restaurant will be good or sucky. I have learned to ignore the little voice that says "run away!" when approaching new places because I tend to be WAY too conservative when left to my own devices.
Not to mention the fact that I tend to order the same thing, the same thing, the same thing everytime I eat.
How to tell if an Australia restaurant is sucky or not:
1. Is it 'ethnic' food? Yes? If it caters for white Australian tastes, it will be sucky. If they cannot speak English and/or have an English language menu suspiciously one fourth the size of the native language menu, it will be good. However, if they have any white customers, the food will be incredibly bland. If it's Chinese, it will not be recognizably Chinese if there are predominantly white customers. Instead, it will taste like the cafeteria food you had in 3rd grade, albeit with too much sugar in it. Run away.
2. Is it 'international' food? Yes? It will be sucky. It will also be expensive. The service will also suck rocks. The waitress will hang out chatting with her friends about the fab Human Nature concert they went to last weekend in Hobart while it takes the cook ninety minutes to prepare your salmony nibbly thing, which will be served tepid.
3. Is it 'Australian' food? Yes? It will be sucky, but at least it will be cheap. If you go to the nearest hotel (= bar), you can eat a lot of OK food for about US $6 a head. It might not be great but at least it's great value.
4. Is it fast food? Yes? It will be sucky, but at least it will be cheap and fast.
After two months here, I can tell you unreservedly that Australia sucks ass when it comes to food. It's a real disappointment. Even the good stuff, which has been rare, has been not quite right in the grand scheme of things.
The story so far:
Best food: an East Asian takeaway near Russel's place
Runners up: Weindorfer's, Gowrie Park, Tasmania; a Korean place with no English name in Chinatown, Sydney, with an elevator and killer $8 lunch special; Bait, Darlinghurst
Best expensive meal: forget it, if it's pricey, it sucks and you'll feel ripped off
Worst meal: too many to count! Doyles, Sydney (expensive and a useful instruction in how to ruin good quality fish by cooking it English style); Stillwater, Launceston (expensive, faux Pac Rim fusion cuisine, bad service, took ages); Hydro Majestic, Bath Spa (expensive, tiny portions of lukewarm food without much flavor); Fortuna Park, Burnie (worst Chinese food ever); Prickly Cactus, Launceston (worst Mexican food ever); the list goes on
I expect the only place you'll find decent ethnic food in Australia is Melbourne. You should be able to get some good Greek or Vietnamese.
(But not Mexican. What, are you crazy? Australians barely know what a taco is.)
Hey, the Mexican bit wasn't my idea. It was Dan's. In any case, though, most Australians seem to know what nachos are, and even tacos, burritos, etc. Old El Paso is doing booming business with supper kits in the supermarkets here - it seems fairly popular, and the restaurant we went to in Launceston was absolutely packed with paying customers, and that on a Thursday night, even!
Still, there are plenty of, ahem, 'ethnics' in most places in Australia these days, so good food can be found if you try really hard, I'm sure of it. Chinatown in Sydney was way worth checking out, for example, and there was a small Indonesian place in Hobart that really wasn't bad, especially for well under $4 US for a huge plate of rendang beef with nasi goreng, gado gado, krompoek etc piled all over it as well.
HA! I knew it! :P
By the way, the 'margarita' at the Mexican restaurant was served in a martini glass, and tasted like it was made with lemon brandy or something. There was no tequila taste. Or salt for that matter.
I was too late for your poll, but now that you have tried the Mexican food there, I will say that it made sense to TRY -- after all, if one of the best Mexican restaurants is El Paso in Chisinau, Moldova, anything is possible! There may even be decent food in London - we're still looking!! Hugs, JMP
You should have listened to me when I voted "Bad Idea" in your poll.
I know these things.