Chilled, welcoming and apparently always busy, Saporita Taquito churns out tasty Mexican fare and Frozen Margaritas to satisfied customers in a buzzing little eatery round the back from the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).
Having recently tried to return to Saporita Taquito, it seems that the Mexican eatery has closed.
Information on their website assure customers that they will ‘announce a new location soon’.
We hope they do!
Location: 16 Kavanagh St, Southbank, VIC 3006 Ph: 0478 730 761
Unless you head down to the waterfront restaurant strips of Southbank and Southgate, the area around the Arts Centre Precinct and the NGV is surprisingly light on decent dining options. Especially in the evening.
So discovering Saporita Taquito, tucked in amongst the office buildings of Kavanagh St, a quick walk round the corner from the Southbank Theatre and Melbourne Recital Centre, is a cause for celebration.
Who’d have thought you’d find such a lively joint, serving fresh, tasty Mexican tapas in such an unpromising location? But that’s exactly what Saporita Taquito offers and it’s worth adding it to you list of eateries in the area for a quick, very satisfying bite. And drink.
It make sense that given the ‘small plates’ nature of much Mexican fare, Saporita Taquito describes its food as ‘Mexican tapas’.
The menu points out that at this particular establishment, there are no mains. With that in mind, they helpfully suggest that a couple of their tapas and a side per diner is a great way to start.
We took their word for it and dived straight in with that perennial favourite, Guacamole ($10). Zipping with lime and coriander, it was the perfect beer – or more accurately Margarita – snack.
With our taste buds warmed up, we then went for the Cabo Tacos ($16). A moist, pearly fillet of fish in a whispery light beer batter, paired with a red cabbage salad spiked with hints of sweetness (cranberries?), all held together by a soft corn tortilla. I could have eaten 4 of them, it was that good. And it’s worth noting that they came presented on warmed wooden board. Nice touch.
Hitting our stride now, we tucked into crispy, savoury Chorizo Croquettes ($14). More of a flattened, crunchy disc than a sphere, they were no less delicious. The smoky chorizo, smooth potato and hint of cotija cheese really sang thanks to the pale green coriander aioli dotted on top.
So far, everything we had eaten was yummy, but quite light. We changed gears with the Pork Gorditas ($22). This is a more dense affair of cornmeal dough filled with pulled pork. It came with wee bowls of coriander, red onion and wedges of lime. Despite being fried, it was not at all oily. That said, it was a heavier dish and had a more subtle flavour than the previous plates.
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Finally, we plumped for a side of Sweet Potato Chips ($14). The sweet chilli and sour cream condiment on the side really worked with the sugary notes in the potatoes.
It’s worth mentioning that this was not our first time at Saporita Taquito.
On a previous visit, we sampled both the Cochinita Tacos ($16) – juicy, slow-cooked pork mixed with a yummy achiote paste – and the Beef Tacos ($18). The latter are also very moreish and come adorned with crispy potato strip for extra texture.
We also tried the Veggie Tamales ($16). These packages of cornmeal dough containing veggies and cheese were steamed in a banana leaf and came with a spicy sauce on the side. One of my dining companions, who is more familiar with Latin American cuisine than I, rated them excellent. So there you go.
Of course, with corn being the main staple for the tortillas etc, this is a fabulous eating option for the gluten intolerant. There are also a number of dishes that are either naturally vegetarian or vegan, or can easily be made so.
Lastly, be aware that the tacos, croquettes, tamales and many other tapas come in serves of 2 pieces. However, the amiable staff will happily to add a 3rd item to your order if you are an odd number.
Happily, the staff at Saporita Taquito know their way around a bottle of tequila.
We sampled a straight Lime Margarita ($20) which hit the perfect balance of sweet, sour and delicious. And as one cocktail is never enough, we then braved the Chilli version. Now, I’ve had the Chilli Margarita before and that time it was pretty punchy – though not in a bad way. This time round it was less fiery. Even so, I would have ordered another one had I had the time.
If cocktails don’t do it for you, there’s a selection of beers. These include a Mexican Pilsner, Pacifico, and that favourite summertime tipple, Corona.
For the those not imbibing alcohol, there are both soft drinks and juices, as well as tea and Melbourne’s most adored beverage – coffee.
This is a light and bright dining spot.
It’s the kind of place where you can drag the tables together and order a pile of dishes to share with friends. Alternatively, you can slip into a corner with a mate and eat a plate of Nachos ($19) with a beer.
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With it’s lively energy, this isn’t such a good choice for a date night. Plus, the turn-over is pretty quick and not really conducive to sitting around, staring into your lover’s eyes.
The service is friendly and efficient. Despite them clearly being short-staffed last time we ate there, the team kept things moving with a smile.
Saporita Taquito is a rare gem in the culinary oasis at the rear of the Arts Precinct.
If you want quick, fresh and tasty authentic Mexican ‘tapas’ and snappy service, this is one of the best restaurants in town. And on a warm evening, those Frozen Margaritas slip down really easy.
Update October 2022
We returned to Saporita Taquito a couple of weeks back and feel we have to update our above review.
Firstly, the chalkboard on the wall crammed with enticing dishes has gone. Not a good sign.
Secondly, the menu both online and presented at the table is much shorter than it once was. The Chorizo Croquettes and Tamales have disappeared completely. So have the Pork Corditas.
We again had the Cabo and Cochinita Tacos and they were noticeably lighter on filling – though still very tasty.
The real shock was the side of Sweet Potato Chips which was a meager dozen fries for the same $14 as before. There wasn’t even one potato’s worth of chips on the plate, so that was a very expensive tuber!
We hope the reduced menu and small portions is a temporary state of affairs as a meal at Saporita Taquito suddenly seems pretty dear for what you get.