I have been a fan of Maldito Mendez for some time in their food truck form and was therefore very excited that they now have a permanent spot in the lovely Ponsonby Central. Seems so were a lot of other people, it was crazy busy even on a Tuesday, and we were lucky to spot some people leaving so we could descend from our bar stools to a table.
It’s one of the funkiest fitouts in town and it really feels like you could be in New York (if you block out the accents). Add it to the list of places like Depot and Mexico where it’s a winning combination of incredible food and vibrant atmosphere.
We were just in for a quick snack before a movie so only ordered one of each of the five tacos ($10 each) between three of us and the Market Fish Ceviche ($15) also to share. Maldito Mendez specialises in South American Street food and with the super-talented Sarah and Nico at the helm, the food is beyond outstanding.
There was a Pulled Pork and Pineapple Salsa taco; Roast Duck Mole with Green Rice Taco; a Shredded Beef with Guacamole taco; Refried bean and queso fresco taco; and a Spicy Fish and Chipotle Mayo taco. They were all excellent, bar none.
The pork was crispy and the pineapple the perfect sweet/tart compliment – I have had this traditional taco filling other places in Auckland but the execution here was far superior. The Refried Bean taco was also fantastic and I’d be interested to know whether they make their own queso fresco – it seemed super fresh and soft. All were loaded with different combinations of slaw, guacamole and home-made salsas and every single one had that wonderful fresh zing and variety of texture making each bite appeal to all senses.
The crispy fish taco with chipotle mayo, slaw and salsa verde was excellent but my favourite taco was the Duck, which had a lovely level of spice and was slightly different to the others with the green rice addition. But as always, I was won over by the Ceviche (having sampled it numerous times at the truck). Fresher than fresh fish, pomegranate seeds and chunks of perfectly ripe mango in a lime/chilli/ginger marinade. Served with crispy triangles of deep fried tortilla on the side. This has to be one of my favourite dishes in Auckland and I love it when a place has ‘that thing’ you always go back for. Every good restaurant should have at least one dish like this.
I will be back soon to try the Empanadas and the desserts and have no doubt they will both also be fantastic. This is one of those places where you can’t go wrong. Everything is well under Cheap Eats budget aside from two dishes at $25. It would have been criminal to exclude this place because of them – you’ll see why when you go.