Chilliwow Mexican Cantina Bar and the return to tequila

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Tequila and I have had a tumultuous relationship from way back in the day when the nights were always young and sleep didn’t seem all that important. Lick some salt, down a shot and suck a lemon – that was how we rolled.

These days, tequila and I are much more respectful to one another, but I’ve learnt it is much more favourable (on my part) to have a decent amount of food in the stomach before easing into an evening with the spirit. So it was with some excitement to hear Chilliwow has launched a new menu to accompany their impressive tequila based beverages and I was invited to give it a test run.

New menu launch at Chilliwow

First of all, can I give massive props to Chilliwow for the amazing décor? I might have never been to Mexico, but the kaleidoscope of colour and texture on everything is exactly what I would’ve expected from a Mexican joint – bright, cheerful and so kitsch, it’s adorable and set the mood for fun fun fun!

New menu launch at Chilliwow

Oh, and I have to mention the gorgeous table centers that were set up especially for the occasion. These eclectic mix of individual stalks from a variety of blossoms were arranged in a mish mash of bottles and jars. Each guest also got one of these amazing handmade fresh floral headpieces by Flowers by Julia – I picked one with a stunning pale pink peony rose to wear for the evening.

New menu launch at Chilliwow

I learnt Chilliwow has a very impressive beverage list, where tequila features first and foremost. And I’m not talking about the rough stuff of my youth. When asked what I would like to start with, my reply of ‘surprise me’ resulted in an aloe vera margarita graciously placed in my hand – a very refreshing smooth summer beverage that I’m arguing is also healthy.

I also sampled the Mandarin Margarita, which was tangy and had a ghostly hint from the sprig of thyme. Neither were too sweet, which is a blessing seeing as too many bars have a tendency to make margaritas almost as sweet as soft drink.

Aloeverita

Aloeverita

Mandarin Margarita

Mandarin Margarita

However, if you have a dining companion (or three), the shared drinks is a fun option I think is worth a try. These come in large long stemmed glasses the size of soup bowls, so there is plenty to go around.

La Poloma Reina

La Poloma Reina

The new menu is pretty straight forward and classic Mexican – how can it be Mexican without nachos, tacos and quesadillas? My evening’s food highlight goes to the jalapeno poppers. I could’ve had a whole bowl of these bad boys to myself. Filled with feta and coated in a crispy shell, these burst in your mouth and go really well with the lime mayonnaise. These are also not particularly spicy, but do tingle the tongue, so I recommend picking up any of the 3 chilli sauces available at each table to amp up the butt fire if you’re a fire breather.

Albondigas (meatballs). Jalapeno poppers. AUD$7

Albondigas (meatballs). Jalapeno poppers. AUD$7

New menu launch at Chilliwow

Assorted tacos. AUD$5 each

Assorted tacos. AUD$5 each

Nachos. AUD$9

Nachos. AUD$9

Chilli fries. AUD$9

Chilli fries. AUD$9

Assorted quesadillas. AUD$9

Assorted quesadillas. AUD$9

I wasn’t a fan of the Chilliwow Dog, which is essentially just a chilli dog. But the moist chicken quesadillas were more up my alley for flavour and comfort – the kind of thing that would go down well when you’re strick by tequila induced hunger pangs. Just watch out for the dollop of sauce on the outside when you pick one up.

I also prefer my nachos a little wet and messy – oozing with melty cheese, sour cream and thick lava meat or bean sauce, so on that point, Chilliwow‘s version is a little disappointing. Everything was there, but had they slathered as much cheesey goodness on them as they did the chilli fries, I would’ve been a happier messier girl.

Churros. AUD$9

Churros. AUD$9

Espresso martini

Espresso martini

We were all offered an espresso martini to pair with the churros (great crunchy and piping hot) and let me tell you: those babies are strong! Were I 10 years younger and itching to hit the clubs, I would’ve skulled these down in a microsecond. But seeing as it was a school night and I needed my beauty sleep (yah yah, I’m such a grandma), I took just a couple of sips and left the rest behind. Next time, I’d have one of these at the start of the evening or after a particularly hard day for an instant perk-me-up.

Both owners were extremely charismatic and we got a little tour of their space. They talked about the various plans they’re looking to make to the establishment, including the addition of a lounge area in the loft above and a Cuban bar around the back. It sounds very exciting, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on their development.

 

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Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of Chilliwow and the Arcade Creative.