Los Latinos

Posted on August 14, 2011

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Los Latinos (128 Mitchell Street, Maidstone VIC) is one of those places that Melbourne foodies love being the first to find. Unfortunately I cannot stake claim to that, being about a year old, this little gem on an otherwise derelict looking strip of shops already has a big following. More than 200 reviews on Urban Spoon and 90%+ rating? I’m about as slow as they come!

Los Latinos is the brain child of a Latin American migrant who had long identified the inadequate supply of Latino food. It’s a small family run operation so the service was as friendly as it was efficient. This great diner does not look like much; in fact I’m sure many will drive past it not even suspecting of what may be hidden within (guilty as charged). Most of the shop fronts on the Mitchell Street strip haven’t been well maintained and quite frankly some even look abandoned. But come back at dinner time and you’ll begin to notice a few strange things: the numbers of cars parked outside, the light radiating from one of the little shops and the people cramming into what might appear like a secret club. Come closer still and you’ll see Los Latinos is packed with happy customers drinking and eating, even on a relatively mundane weeknight.

As evidenced above, the interior hasn’t exactly been designed. Rather, it’s been re-purposed as a cheap and cheerful restaurant serving locals a good feed to some funky Latino tunes. It’s pretty minimalist, with just a few posters of South America lining the wall, but it’s functional and the diners care naught of the decor.

Even though it offers dishes from Chile through to Peru, the menu is fairly small with small items priced about $10 and larger items at the $30 mark. I’ll have to apologise in advance for not remembering the names of the dishes or even the prices of them. We started with the corn cakes with chorizo and sour cream (~$10). This was a lovely fluffy pancake like starter. The sweetness of the corn was well balanced with the chorizo and light tomato salsa.

As our main, we shared a dish that is probably best described as a pot pie (~$20), but instead of a puff pastry topping, it was topped with sweet corn – yum! The ‘filling’ was a delicious mix of beef mince, chicken pieces and hard boiled egg. The dish was very beefy and I couldn’t really discern any other flavour but nonetheless we thoroughly enjoyed it. The tangy salad was a much needed side to cut through the meatiness of the dish.

The drinks menu also warrant a discussion, there was a good selection of South American soft drinks, including the Inca Cola which we sampled and can verify that it tastes similar to a creamy soda. The drink that really caught my interest though, was the Horchata (I think that’s how it’s spelt, ~$4.50) which is like iced almond milk. That’s how it was described to us, and yup, it’s definitely a nutty drink, almost like a nut milkshake. Yummy, but quite intense by the time you get to the end.

I’m so glad I’ve finally come to the party and can be one of those in the know, telling locals and fellow foodies about the delights to be found in Maidstone. So consider yourself invited!

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