They’ve done it again. The creators of that slip of a dining room Fleet Restaurant and the delicious daytime épicerie Ethel Food Store just around the corner, now bring us: La Casita in Brunswick Heads.
In Spanish, La Casita translates to ‘the small house’, and that’s how diners are made to feel – like they have been welcomed into a Mexican home and courtyard for an authentic yet modern dining experience along with warm hospitality.
Josh and Astrid have found the perfect location for La Casita, tucked away on Fawcett Street (and Tweed Street) in Brunswick Heads where the old Gringo’s Mexican served a style of ‘Ausmex’ food for many years. It’s quiet, beneath and among the trees with an intimate vibe and a no-fuss fit out. The palette is muted, with archways, terracotta, pretty salmon and mint. I do love that they have kept the original red ‘Mexican’ sign out front! The kitchen is small with an impressive grill crafted by local talent Joe Ryan from Joe Grills. Despite the heat in there, Josh still looks calm and in his zone.
The menu at La Casita is authentic modern Mexican. Yes … there are tacos (but not as you know them!) and there are totopos and guacamole but no soggy burritos, fajitas or refried beans in sight. The restaurant is open for dinner from Thursday to Monday and also offers lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. You can enjoy drinks and snacks right through to a banquet of eight dishes to share for $50 (minimum 2 people).
The Snacks menu includes dishes like Guacamole Con Totopos or guacamole and fried tortilla chips, Ceviche of oysters with mezcal, cucumber, pickled watermelon rind, lime and chilli which are super refreshing, Nopalitos Con Frijoles De La Olla which is a plate of delicious creamy black beans with small slithers of chargrilled cactus pad, pickled jalapeños and cheese known as queso cotija. A moreish dish and my first try of cactus! The Jalapeños Rellenos are popular. Large jalapeños stuffed with fresh pork sausage and another Mexican cheese known as queso oaxaca. They pack some heat, so be ready.
The Taco menu is so good that it’s hard to choose a favourite after having tried them all, but the Pescado or fish tacos are definitely close to the top. A generous piece of pan-fried fish (like Kingfish) served with tomatillo salsa and avocado cream on house made corn tortillas. It’s a bit messy but absolutely worth it! By the way, Tacos come in pairs 🙂 I quite like a pig and pineapple combo so I would always order the Al Pastor with traditional spit grilled pork, achiote marinade for colour and flavour, pineapple, onion and coriander.
While it’s a must to work your way through the Taco menu, don’t overlook the larger dishes. The Carnitas Con Frijole is hearty braised ham hock served with white beans, green herb sauce and tortillas which is probably good to share in a group. The King Prawn dish with rice was tasty but maybe short on prawns (three). Next time I am definitely going to try the wood grilled whole fish.
At least once (okay, maybe twice) you should order the special prawn Tortas sandwich. I would recommend sharing with someone unless you can stretch your tummy that far! Imagine a soft white roll – like a hot dog roll – filled with a school prawn fritter, avocado, onion and lettuce that’s then drowned in a tomato and crustacean oil. Keep your napkins close and enjoy!
If you have room for dessert, I can vouch for the traditional Pastel Tres Leches or three milk cake which is a simple cake that’s drowned in a milk, condensed milk and evaporated sauce to keep the crumb sweet and moist.
Of course, the drinks list at La Casita is solid. The cocktails have loads of Mexican colour and flavour and for me it’s hard to beat ‘Tommy’s Margarita’ with tequila, lime and agave. Although our waiter recommended that I try a Margarita with mezcal next time for a new experience!
Speaking of which, there is a mezcal and tequila section for those not driving. Or try the beer named after Astrid that was especially developed for La Casita by Yulli’s Brews. There are refreshing non-alcoholic Aguas fresca or sweetened drinks made with fresh fruit, herbs and flowers in the Mexican tradition. Of course, the wine list is short and sweet and superior with six wines available by the glass or bottle.
Felicidades to Josh and Astrid on their latest venture – La Casita in Brunswick Heads. The setting and service are as good as you would expect and the food the same. If you haven’t visited yet, I say: ‘Ariba! Ariba!’
P.S. Walk-ins are welcome at La Casita but I would always book to be sure.