Touché Hombre is Melbourne’s answer to Los Angeles taco culture meets Melbourne’s street art.
Since the 1930s tacos have been a popular dish in America. While they have their roots in Mexico, the style and presentation of American tacos have become a part of the food landscape in the state
The invention of food chain, Taco Bell, helped make Mexican food palatable to a country that had historically regarded it with suspicion, according to Jeffrey Pilcher, a food historian at the University of Minnesota and author of the forthcoming Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food.
“There’s this fascination with Mexican food,” says Pilcher.
“Part of that comes from the sense that it’s dangerous. It’s hot, obviously, but there’s also this fear that it’s contaminated.
“Glen Bell’s great triumph came in franchising and selling Mexican food to a mainstream audience in the still-segregated 1950s and ’60s California,” explains Pilcher.
Richard Hands, the venue manager at Touché Hombre says their philosophy was simple.
“We want to create the best Mexican food in Melbourne, served up with the best vibe in town.
“The food is legit Mexicana, but there’s no Day of Dead face of Catrina on the walls. This is a place to have fun,” says Hands.
Josh Cunningham is the head chef and has worked as a chef for the last 10 years in Australia and abroad.
He has interests in several established bars and restaurants across the globe, including Bar Bruno and Super Linda in New York and La Bodega Negra in London.
He has also been working closely with Richard Ampudia, who was one of the pioneers in bringing Mexican street food into a restaurant setting with his New York venue La Esquina.
Hands says the chefs focus on learning traditional Mexican food techniques and then adapting them to Melbourne’s food palate.
“We take traditional dishes and add in new elements to make them distinctly Touché Hombre.
“When a new menu is created, we go through several days of food tasting, then the whole team gets to try it, then it gets costed, then it goes on the menu,” reveals Hands.
“The menu is seasonal, it changes according to what is freshest and best. In summer there will be lighter dishes like ceviches and tiraditos and in winter there will be more braised and slow roasted dishes.
“We aim to use local ingredients. We have a range of suppliers that gives us unique ingredients.
“The one thing that we want more of is fresh tomatillo, it is the hardest thing to get. They grow them in such small quantities in Australia that we can’t really get enough.”
Touché Hombre defies most of the clichés you would expect to find at a Mexican restaurant in Australia. It all begins with the name, as Hands explains.
“Touché is a French word and that dissonance establishes the brand immediately as playful. The eating and drinking is informally cool, the soundtrack is critical with DJs spinning records on key nights, and the walls are covered in the art of the streets.”
233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
+61 3 9663 0811