I originally visited ROCA MEXICAN CANTINA in Coogee quite a few months back. I have never been happy with the pics I took, it was my old camera, dark and the light wasn’t what I would call ideal, even with my portable light. Standards people, STANDARDS!! Haha. My plan was to return for a weekend lunch and re-shoot but like everything else in my life there is NEVER enough time. So I am going to post with the pics I have and apologise for the photos and the delay to you and the venue. Regardless of the photos the venue is a must for Mexican food lovers or lovers of CALAVERAS MEXICAN in Newtown.
For my review of CALAVERAS MEXICAN please CLICK HERE.
ROCA MEXICAN VENUE:
ROCA MEXICAN CANTINA is located just off the beach in Coogee. The space and the location is ideal as a locals or visitors venue and it’s about relaxing, having fun, downing a lot of tequila and embracing all that is good about no frills, traditional Mexican cuisine. The venue itself is somewhat themed on the DAY OF THE DEAD with bright colours, lots of calacas and calaveras that owner, Gerardo, brought back from Mexico. Calacas are the celebratory skeletons generally used in Mexican celebrations and the calaveras are the skulls. ROCA has an entire wall of coloured calaveras that I fell in love with and wanted – lucky for Gerardo they are screwed down. I have a slowly growing mask collection and the brightness and wonder in ROCA’s calaveras are just sublime!!
To enter the venue you walk up a flight of stairs off Alfreda St and are greeted by a huge central bar. The venue screams authentic chillaxed cantina. There is lower table seating and higher bench table seating and the front of the venue is a large balcony with even more seating. Personally I prefer the venue at Newtown but ROCA embraces the festive nature of the beachside and suits the venue and having a balcony is a win. If I lived in the area I would be a Sunday regular!
NACHOS IS NOT TRADITIONAL MEXICAN FOOD:
If you have ever visited CALAVERAS in Newtown you should be aware of what ROCA is all about. Gerardo is about traditional and authentic. They do not sell nachos! This may surprise a lot of people (it did me) but while nachos was invented in Mexico by Ignacio Anaya (nickname Nacho), they were made for some U.S. American Military Officer wives. Ignacio was the maitre d’, the chef was missing and he didn’t want to lose business to this larger bunch of American ladies who turned up. So he threw what he had in a bowl and voila – nachos were born. They then gained popularity over 20yrs but went global when Frank Liberto began to sell them as stadium food at Arlington Stadium (home of baseball’s Texas Rangers at the time). Of course he changed it to the less-desirable cheese that didn’t need to be heated.
THAT MEXICAN GOODNESS:
The impressive bar is stocked with over fifty tequilas and mezcals to suit all palates and budgets. The cocktails are a mix of Mexican classics and local favourites with a tequila twist – the Blood Orange Margarita sits alongside the “infamous Bull Dog.” The Bull Dog has earned the nickname the Beergarita. It’s literally a Margarita with an upside down Corona in it. At CALAVERAS it was my highlight because it came in a large glass skull. Sadly everyone nicked the amazing glasses and at $20 each the drink isn’t served in said skull anymore – damn you thieves!!
At ROCA, everything is made fresh, from the authentic guacamole and salsas to the fresh lime cured ceviche. This is Mexican cooking at its most authentic.
WHAT WE SMASHED:
- Quite a few cocktails – the PASSION SESION – made with Jennifer Hawkins’ Sesion tequila, limes, passionfruit and chilli salted glass was my favourite closely followed by the Blood Orange Tango – tequila, agave, fresh lime and blood orange
- Pollo Loco & Chipotle – spicy marinated chicken, coriander and cheese drizzled with chipotle and salsa verde topped with slaw in flour tortillas
- Ceviche de Pescado – fish slowly cured in lime juice brought together with housemade tajin and pico de gallo served on crispy corn tortillas with a side of salsa (2 pcs)
- Marinated Chicken Tostaditas topped with slaw, coriander and drizzled with chipotle and verde (2 pcs)
- Don Pastor (chipotle) Tacos with pulled guajillo chicken, fresh pineapple chunks, coriander, spanish onion and chipotle
- Queso Fundido – a bed of pinto beans covered with mozzarella then baked in a traditional mexican clay pot, topped with smokey chorizo and served with flour tortillas
- Chicken Fajitas Asadas (d.i.y) – your choice of meat on a bed of rice, a touch of guacamole, served with flour tortillas
- Churros – traditional straight mexican donuts with cinnamon sugar and warm nutella sauce
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
I am quite biased because not only do I love Mexican food but I have eaten this food before at CALAVERAS – I could live on it!! The quesadillas are quite generous on the filling and the Ceviche de Pescado is sublime – have had that one on each visit. Those Chicken Tostaditas had so much on them and tasted so delicious I could just have had a few plates of them and been as satisfied. The Don Pastor Tacos were tasty but overshadowed by the amazement that came before them.
The Quesa Fundidos have been a fave of mine on each visit but at CALAVERAS they added a bucket of extra cheese and we got a pull shot nearing two feet high haha. Being a cheese whore I preferred it with the extra. Chicken Fajita Asadas were a delight and they reminded me of the Mexican nights we had in front of the TV growing up making our own fajitas. Avocado for the win!!
And to end of course there had to be Churros!! Sprinkling the churros in cinnamon and then lathering them in Nutella was enough to get me over the line. I was so full by this stage but somehow managed to get these babies all in!!
ROCA MEXICAN CANTINA and Tequila Bar is a must for the locals of Coogee, backpackers and people who can get their butts to the East-side. Gerardo serves some of the best traditional Mexican I have eaten and if that isn’t enough perhaps his selection of over fifty tequilas will do it. Or maybe Taco Tuesday with $3 tacos, $5 sangrias and $6 tequilas will do it. If you can’t get to Coogee hit up their mothership at CALAVERAS in Newtown.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 2/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 0/1 bonus
Roca Mexican Cantina and Tequila Bar Deets:
PH: 0424 123 586
29-31 Alfreda St, Coogee 2034
BOOKINGS: Click HERE
Tue – Thur: 5 – 10pm
Fri & Sat: 5pm to 12am
Sun: 12 to 10pm
TAKEAWAY: Check with Venue
LOCAL DELIVERY: Check with Venue
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Yes
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment and/or any PR agencies representing them. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such ***