After some crazy weather in Sydney, we finally decided to brave it and head to Contrabando (be it approximately 30 steps from the front door of our building). The entrance is extremely unassuming, so much so that we were convinced it was a basement Chinese restaurant for the past few months. It wasn’t until I saw large groups of business men hoarding into the basement that I knew I had to look it up.
We entered Contrabando at lunchtime on a Friday, assuming that its mysterious exterior wasn’t luring in huge crowds on a weekday. We were definitely mistaken. We were initially told that the restaurant was completely booked out, apparently a regular occurrence on Tuesdays and Fridays, so definitely make sure you book! However, she managed to make a small table for us just as a group left, so definite extra points for the waitstaff! The restaurant itself is unexpectedly really nice and classically decorated, with low lighting (being in a basement) and modern wall painting adding a touch of colour to the space.
Fridays are classified as a ‘party’ for Contrabando (woo!) so the deal is 4 tacos for $20 and 4 Coronas for $22. We opted for a mix of the taco plates and small plates for a light lunch. They also serve a range of larger plates and ceviche on the menu which will definitely be tried out next time! First up were the Wild Mushroom, Baby Spinach and Feta Empanadas ($15). This was a great start, coming in a serving of 3. The empanadas were absolutely delicious, with the feta adding a creamy, slightly stinky (but delicious) taste to the dish.
Next up were the Crispy Onion Rings with Mango Habanero BBQ Sauce ($7). These were nothing out of this world, just good. I have to admit I can’t really imagine onion rings ever being ‘fantastic’, but no complaints with these ones. And they looked really pretty too!
Now finally onto the tacos! We ordered one of each on the menu (which changes weekly), yet I tried the Crispy Fish Tomatillo, Pico de Gallo and Chipotle Mayo ($6), The Cuban Beans Ratatouille, Chilli Jam and Haloumi ($6) and The Calamari, Green Tabasco Mayo, Avocado, Coriander and Petty Cash Salsa ($6). These were seriously incredible, and especially good for their bargain price! The fish was definitely my favourite, cooked to perfection and so so creamy with the mayo (drool). Out of the three the bean taco was the most average, but seriously this is just in comparison to the other two, so it was still pretty damn good!
You’ll have to excuse me for the blurred photos – the lighting in there definitely is not preferable for photographing. But overall, Contrabando is definitely worth any wait that you may go through to get in here. Not being a huge fan of Mexican food, I tend to head towards the leaner, spice-heavy Mexican cuisine rather than the cheese and sour cream type. And this place definitely hit the spot. I’ve already booked in for dinner or Tuesday and just knowing that I can see the front door of Contrabando from my bedroom window right now…lets just say this is going to be a scary addiction. X
21 Bent Street
Monday 12-3pm, Tuesday to Friday 12pm-Late
Price: $$-$$$ (take advantage of the deals!)