I'm not sure whether Los Latinos has done much to sway my opinion, but I am happy and rather proud (it is local! after all) to report that the food does match up to the hype, but let me warn you: Come early to avoid the crowds and have the full attention of your lovely waittress and indeed the kitchen. They're a little overwhelmed by the increase in patronage since being featured in the Age Epicure. And the service is a little reticent, and potentially quite slow.
There was one big cross however - tamales (thanks B52s!! - 'Hi my name is Ricky and I'm a Pisces, I love computers and hot tamales!") are not that easy to find on a menu and I was sooo looking forward to being served some here but I think they didn't turn out quite right ... so I had to go for boring old fajitas instead.
But anyways, we were the first table there which was great as our brilliant waitress was able to explain things on the menu to us. We were like wide-eyed kids in a candy shop checking everything out. Produce behind the counter, half hidden blackboards with specials ... and to her credit, our waitress was both enthusiastic and patient.
They had these corn based parcels on special called Arepas, so our waitress suggested that we combined the Arepas with the Pupusas which was always going to be on the cards.
So for entree we had a mixture of Pupusas and Arepas de Choclo:
PupusasThe Pupusas were fantastic. Filled with cheese, pork and beans, I was under the assumption that it would be a strong punchy flavour but in actual fact it was quite mild. The chilli sauce they served with it could certainly have had a bigger push up the Scoville scale, but the curtido (cabbage salad) was perfection. Just the right amount of crunch and acidity.
The Arepas were a slight let down. I found the corn mixture a little too sweet for my liking, and the slices of Chorizo plonked on the top were pedestrian. Although I must say it is an attractive looking dish.
I was after some of the more extoic sounding juices on the menu but all of them came in aerated form, which I'm not a fan of. So our waittress suggested some Horchata (which incidentally does not appear on the menu). I have never had this nut-based beverage (and always wondered what Vampire Weekend were singing about) before and it was a tad too sweet for my liking. It would have been a great beverage for afternoon tea and the like but not when you're looking for something refreshing to wash down all that rich heavy food. You can order this in a jug but we opted for 2 separate glasses. In the end it was served in a jug but they charged us for just 2 glasses.
For mains, M went with the Latino equivalent of an aussie meat platter - Guanacos Carne Asada:
This is the dish I will come back to Los Latinos for. I was expecting a tough piece of beef but it was juicy and tender (but this is cooked meat, no fancy medium bleeding rare here) and the sausages were amazing!!
Unable to secure the tamales, my fajita in comparison was so so. Although the salsa and avocado combo made for a lovely guac. And the beef was suitably peppery and smoky. No pics I'm afraid.
We had no room for sweets at this stage. But I would like to try the curious entry of Quesedilla which apparently is like a cake, and not quite what we're familiar with.
So in summation, although in gastronomic terms, I'm afraid South American as a cuisine still ranks low in my books, this doesn't prevent me from recommending Los Latinos as another wonderful culinary addition to the Footscray, and indeed Melbourne Pantheon as a whole.