Restaurant News

Adelaide’s Taco Quetzalcoatl has opened a second location, and it’s as good as ever

It’s expanded from Salisbury to Unley and enjoyed a glowing New York Times write up in between, but this Mexican eatery is still doing what it does best.

By David Sly
New York Times, Schnew York Times.
Margarita Galindo Gallardo's humble Adelaide tacqueria Taco Quetzalcoatl may have been reviewed by the publication's revered food critic Besha Rodell, but she says it's her Mexican clientele who are the toughest customers.
"Mexican people are very fussy about their food. Is it as good as mother's cooking or grandma's cooking? This is how my food is judged," she says.
Since opening her original taco shop in 2014 in suburban Salisbury, Gallardo's home-style Mexican cooking has caused a stir in the Latin American community. They came for the tacos, yes, but they also flocked for the pozole – a traditional stew of hominy (dried maize kernels), radish, pulled pork and guajillo chilli – the huaraches (fried masa-dough flatbread piled with meat, beans and salsa, and those house-made salsas.
Then came the glowing review that described the eatery as "one of the best reproductions of Mexican food in Australia" – and cue the lines out the door, prompting Gallardo to open a second, larger premises in August in affluent Unley.
Margarita Galindo Gallardo. Photo: David Sly
With business partners Jaime Figueroa and Marco Camarillo, Gallardo now caters for up to 200 diners daily. "This is no problem. I am a woman who likes to work hard at something new," she says. "I want people to feel as though they are eating in my home." She especially loves the 3pm service, when Latin American diners come for their customary late lunch.
Gallardo, who migrated to Australia in 2007, says cooking is how she stays connected to her homeland. And despite significantly upscaling the kitchen's output at Unley, she's retained the essential elements that made its flagship so successful.
All the corn tortillas, tamales and corn chips are produced onsite, and sauces and chilies are sent by her family who run a restaurant in Coatzacoalcos, a city in southern Mexico. Salsas sing with vibrant lime juice and coriander, enchiladas come with a rich chocolate-spiked mole, and tacos stuffed with fried chicken come plump and crunchy. In the near future, Gallardo wants to introduce specialties from her home state of Veracruz (she counts the seafood-laden soup caldo de marisocs as her favourite dish).
The tacos at Quetzalcoatl. Photo: David Sly
Like its original location, the décor at Unley is unfailingly modest, adorned simply with the Mexican flag and papel picado decorations. Such humble surrounds allows Gallardo to focus her energies entirely on what's on the plate. "The festivity is in the food," she says.
Quetzalcoatl Mexican Restaurant, 153 Unley Rd, Unley, SA.
Taco Quetzalcoatl, Shop 28, 18 Amanda St, Salisbury, SA.