La Cholita, Northbridge
I had always tried to stay away from La Cholita in Northbridge, simply because I had heard continuous bad reviews about it from people. From shocking service to long queues for mediocre food, I wasn’t exactly in a rush to visit any time soon. But I couldn’t avoid it forever, so when a catch up with some girl friends was due and La Cholita was mentioned, I knew it was time to try it out.
I always walk by La Cholita and it has always looked interesting inside. There are always diners inside and it looks like a funky Mexican bar and restaurant that opened up a few years ago. La Cholita is one of the creations behind Clint Nolan, who also created Harvest in Fremantle, which I wish I had tried before it closed down. Clint Noland also owns Who’s Your Mumma (also in Fremantle) and the new eatery Pleased To Meet You in Northbridge.
El Publico in Highgate has been one of my favourite Mexican eateries in Perth, and I was willing to try La Cholita to compare. La Cholita also serves up sharing-type of dishes, as well as your soft tacos (intended for one person). They also had a big drinks menu, as after all, this was a bar as well.
We sat at one of the high tables by the kitchen, that could seat up to six people. I had come a few minutes late, but I quickly scanned the menu. They had tacos, entrees, tostadas, quesadillas and big sharing plates. Nothing was over $30, and the minimum cost of one taco was $5. One of the waitresses came to take our food orders, but we weren’t ready yet, as we were quite indecisive. As soon as we were ready, no one came back. Apparently the waitress had kept trying to take our order (while I wasn’t there), but then when we were ready, no one was around, which always seems to be the case. Initially, when we did order our drinks, the waitress’s attitude was rather arrogant, as if she didn’t care. Alright, fine then. So be it. Fifteen minutes later, we flagged down a different waiter to order our food.
We ordered one litre of sangria ($28), which we mistakenly thought was going to be shared amongst the three of us, which in the end, ended up being shared between two of us. The sangria had fruit juices blended with red wine and a splash of vodka. The sangria was delicious, but there could’ve been more ice in the drink, as I believe alcohol is best served cold (and with ice, if possible). I’ve had better sangrias in my time. We managed to fill one glass with about 2 spoonfuls from the ladle.
Our chorizo and queso carela quesadilla ($15) came out in four slices. They were thinly layered with minced chorizo and oozy queso corelo cheese and were hot in temperature. The quesadillas were delicious and toasted perfectly, but I almost couldn’t taste the chorizo. These quesadillas were quite simple and I felt like they weren’t too special.
Next up was the Mexican street corn ($6.50). I love Mexican street corn. It’s seriously one of my favourite things about Mexican cuisine. I first fell in love with it at Mamasita in Melbourne, and I always try to get the street corn every time I’m at a Mexican restaurant. La Cholita’s street corn tasted so good. I liked that they included the skewers in the corn cob, for whether you want to eat it off the cob, or to cut the corn off the cob. The corn was sweet and absolutely juicy, and it was so good with the delicious sauce and the spices that the corn was rolled into.
Three of us ordered a taco each, one being prawn, papaya salsa, cos lettuce and avocado ($6.50), slow cooked pork, pineapple and onion ($5) and Baja fish with chipotle mayo ($6). I had the slow cooked pork taco and it was to-die-for. The slow roasted pork was tender and the pineapple was a great addition to the taco, where it touched on an Asian influence. The other tacos looked amazing, and were enjoyed by their owners. I managed to get about three bites out of the taco.
One of the sharing plates that we got was the wood grilled Angus beef with chimichurri ($26). This was one of my favourites, with a generous amount being shared between four of us girls. Although the meat itself was lacking in flavour, the red onion salsa saved the dish. The glistening beef was tender and I wanted more.
I introduce to you the wood roasted pork hock with recado rojo ($26). Looks can certainly be deceiving, but don’t let that stop you from having this dish. Recado rojo is a blend of spices that usually includes annatto, Mexican oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, garlic and salt. The pork hock was huge and resembled what I generally have to see every day at work that most people would vomit over (my apologies for any imagery). Thankfully, as a nurse, I can put all that behind me and enjoy the dish. The pork was incredibly soft and completely fell off the bone. It was packed full of flavour in the sauce from the recado rojo. What was left over were the big bones and the huge abundance of fat. There was a lot of meat on the plate in the end, and I know that every meat lover would absolutely demolish this dish.
As always, I am a huge fan of octopus, so I couldn’t pass on the wood grilled octopus with smoky potato ($12). This dish truly was an entree size, being quite small. There were small bits of octopus and the smoky potatoes were incredibly soft. It was quite a small serve for the price, and there were only a few pieces of octopus in there. I personally didn’t think it was worth the price, although it was quite delicious.
We had a craving for crunchy tortilla, and decided to order extra. We ordered the guacamole with crispy flour tortilla ($6.50) and pico de gallo with crispy corn tortilla ($6). Pico de gallo is basically a salsa made up of tomatoes, onions and chilli. The flour tortillas were very crunchy, but were salty, which did not matter in the end as the guacamole helped with the saltiness. The guacamole, however, lacked some punch in flavour. On the other hand, the pico de gallo was quite a cold dip and was also spicy. The chips had a good corn flavour, and was not of the salty corn chip variety. I preferred this chip better than the tortilla.
As the sun began to set, so did La Cholita’s lights. They dimmed their lights to the point where we couldn’t see what we were eating. The place itself was decorated well. The music was way too loud for our liking and we had to yell at each other to speak. I felt that La Cholita is a good place to catch up with friends, have some drinks, and to get your Mexican fix. If they polished up on their service, and fixing basic things like turning down the music or keeping light in the restaurant, then they wouldn’t have such a neutral to bad reputation.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Address: 279 William St, Northbridge WA 6003
- Open every day for dinner from 5pm until late, and also open for lunch on Fridays to Sundays from 12pm.
- The total came to $147.50 for four people (including one litre of sangria to share), coming to roughly $36 per person.
- I usually see queues at dinner time (but not as long as they used to be) so it’s still advisable to go early for dinner.