El Publico

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What’s loud, crowded, fun and smack bang in the middle of the busy Beaufort St strip? Well it could be one of a few places, but the hip place I’m referring to is El Publico. This place is so hip in fact, it only takes bookings of two hours duration so you’ve got to eat up and move on, just when the party’s getting started.

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That’s if you take the early booking of course – with the 8.30 booking you get to stay and drink tequila and party on till the midnight hour.

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Our group of 8 decided to go with the easy option of the $45 “Feed Me Menu”, a tapas-style meal with a mix of meat and vegetarian choices. Some nights when you’re getting stuck into the wine and cocktails, you’d rather not have to make important decisions about what you’re going to eat. Just put the food in front of us and we’ll hope for the best.
The starters of spiced chickpeas, and guacamole and salsa with corn chips disappeared in the blink of an eye.

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Dishes followed in quick succession. They don’t muck about at El Publico. Enamel dishes filled with Street Prawns complete with shells and heads appeared. Apparently you eat the whole thing. And much to our surprise, they were tasty little morsels once you got past the idea of eating prawn heads. Who would’ve thought?

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Street Corn consisted of corn kernels cooked in creamy sauce and spices and was unlike any corn I’ve eaten before. In a good way.

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“Bring on the meat” the men in our group were silently thinking, and before you could say “chipotle chilli”, out came our next dish of soft beef tacos with all the accompaniments.

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Mushroom Quesadillas followed, and this was a delicious wrap of fried and spiced mushrooms in toasted tortillas. I’m sure there was something else in those tortillas, but I was enjoying my tequila a bit too much to pay much attention at this point.

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The carnivores in our group were satisfied with our next dish of Carbon de Mercado San Juan. Replete with barbecued pork, chicken , beef and chorizo, there were two huge plates for our table and we couldn’t do them justice.

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To accompany the carnivores’ delight, several salads were served. The fresh beetroot, leafy greens and walnut salad was the perfect foil for the rich meat. There was also a  tomato salad and a weird tasting coleslaw. Well I guess they can’t all be winners.

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And, for the grand finale, the dessert board consisting of three different desserts. The peanut butter parfait was superb. Creamy, rich and gloriously peanutty, this was the highlight of the evening for me.

The fudge was sweet and rich, and our third dessert of the coconut cake with chocolate pistachio was an interesting mix of  flavours and  textures. They were spoiled of course, because I ate the peanut butter parfait first and everything else was second best after that.

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Despite having to hustle out the door at 8.30, our evening at El Publico was a fun experience. The wait staff were attentive, and our drinks waiter was entertaining and charming, recommending drinks and even giving us samples of wine to try. This place is really jumping on a Saturday night, and there was barely room to move near the bar by the time we left. Lucky us though – with Must Wine Bar a few steps down the road, we were able to continue on with our Saturday night for several more hours. That’s the beauty of the Beaufort St strip – there’s always somewhere else to go.


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