RESTAURANT REVIEW: Antojitos - Mexican streets ahead

EXCEPT when a musician friend of mine used to live there, I've never had many cravings, little or otherwise, to visit Carrington. The island suburb of Newcastle is home to a mix of residential, industrial and commercial development, and features a few looming grain silos over in the port district, which doesn't exactly suggest, "good food found here".

Carrington was once known as Chapman's Island, and was earmarked as a good site for a gaol, but, as they say, one should never judge a book by its cover, or a place by its gigantic grain silos, or gaoling potential, as this does an enormous disserve to the hidden beauty of a place. Take Young Street, for instance. It's a quiet, tree-lined street that cuts right through the centre of Carrington, from one end to the other. It's as wide as any street in any country town, where you might still be able to ride your bullocks and cart and two-horse coaches to get around.

These days, there's a fair bit going on in Carrington, particularly on Young Street. For instance, you'll find Ground Up Espresso making excellent coffees, milkshakes and burgers, as well as Carrington Place, which was recently awarded three schooners by the SMH Good Pub Guide.

But if burgers and steaks, milkshakes and schooners are not your thing, and you've still got a little craving to visit the island suburb of Carrington for something good to eat, then you'd best head to Antojitos for some tasty Mexican street food.

Located under awnings that extend right out into the street, Antojitos is a casual little space to sit and chill, eat and drink, and imagine bullock carts and Kombi vans rolling down the road. There's loads of space out the back as well, which would be a nice place to spend a Sunday afternoon (were they open). But it's the dining area you'll want to be, with all the sizzling sounds and smoky smells of authentic fresh Mexican ingredients cooking on the grill.

All the hits are on the menu. From burritos to tacos, sauces and salsas, and cool quesadilla-type things, called mulitas, which are as fun to say, as they are to eat!

We rolled into Antojitos on a slow Wednesday afternoon for lunch. On this occasion we ordered the chicken burrito and two fish tacos to share, with a bottle of Jarritos mandarin soft drink and a glass of Horchata, which is a rice water drink made with Spanish cinnamon and coconut.

The Horchata tastes a bit like watered down coconut milk with a gentle hint of sweet spice from the cinnamon. The mandarin soft drink, on the other hand, is super refreshing and tastes exactly like a carbonated wedge of mandarin. It's so morish we bought two extra bottles to take home!

Our food order took next to no time to come out and was served to us in the same containers that are used for take away.

Considering we were dining in, it would have been cool to have some dining implements to eat our lunch with, but, to be fair, we were eating Mexican street food . . .

The fish tacos are served in twos and threes and look truly delicious. Two fried pieces of battered fish sit on top of a warm soft, and round taco, which is sweet and slightly crunchy. It's dressed with bright-purple cabbage, green lettuce and coriander, drizzled with white tangy mayo, and with a bright-green lime wedge on the side.

The chicken burrito is served wrapped in silver foil bursting with rice, beans, spinach, cheese, house-made tomato salsa and sauces. Everything is fresh, with large chunks of white-fleshed chicken stained with flavour, although, having said that, a little more spice would have been nice.

We asked for the burrito to be cut in half, so we could easily share it, and it wasn't a problem.

Now, you might have already dined at Antojitos already, just not in Carrington. Owner and chef, Eric Flores, originally from northern Californa, has been serving his Mexican-inspired meals at markets and events all around town for some time. Well, now you can satisfy your cravings for Mexican street food at Antojitos HQ, almost any time you like.

Quick Bite

What: Antojitos.

Where: 87 Young Street, Carrington.

Owner: Eric Flores.

Drinks: Mexican horchata (milk-based drink), soft drinks, water and coffee.

Hours: Wednesday 8am-2pm, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 8am-8pm,  Sunday 8am-2pm 

Vegetarian: Yes.

Bottom line: $30 for two, including drinks.

Wheelchair access: Yes.

Do try: Fish tacos and Jarritos soft drink.

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