Tacos, tacos, tacos! Everyone loves tacos! So much so that clearly there’s a market in setting up a restaurant that, apart from a few beverages and a salsa or two, only offers its customers tacos. This is the deal at Chingon.
Out for a family togetherness dinner, the Blintzes took our places sitting on Chignon’s rooftop dining area. I had no idea this area existed, having only eaten in the front dining room before, but yes, wind your way out the back, up the staircase over the Cadillac (um, yeah, there’s a Cadillac in the back dining room), and you emerge into quite a nice, albeit rustic space.
We started off with the only dish on the menu that isn’t tacos, the fire-roasted salsa with guacamole and corn chips. While others baulked at the charred corn kernels floating in the salsa, I absolutely loved it, with the fact that it lent both texture and intensified smokiness and sweet notes. I’m normally far more of a guac person than a salsa person, but I was steadfastly ignoring the very good guacamole here in order to load as much salsa onto chips as possible.
On to tacos. There was quite a bit of waiting time between salsas and tacos – I believe the kitchen here is quite teeny, and they do make everything to order, which gets a bit of leeway sympathy from me, though I’d be curious to see what it’s like on a bursting at the seams evening.
Now, a note that unless you specify that you’d prefer them served separately, you will end up getting your vegie tacos served on the same platter as the meat ones, so if meaty cross-contamination worries you, be vocal.
The single vegie option (out of only six options all up) comprises of charcoal roasted corn, capsicum, cubes of baby squash, guacamole, salsa and feta, wrapped in soft, light brown, handmade corn taco tortillas. With that charred smoky tang that characterises the food here dominating, they’re very tasty, very more-ish tacos, with a nice level of chilli heat that gets you buzzing but doesn’t fully overwhelm. They are also deceptively filling little beasties – you can get four for $20, and they definitely sate a hungry tum.
For drinks there’s only non-alcoholic beverages available, although you can BYO your own wine. I had a toronja, which is freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice, sugar and water. This was a perfect refreshing offset to the heat of the food, and also from the warm evening sun. Mum exclaimed happily over her limonada (freshly squeezed lemon juice, sugar and water), saying that it was basically a very good version of old school lemonade. They probably are a touch expensive at $7 each, though, considering what they are.
As an ex-waitress who has a whole mental binder filled with horror stories about customers constantly wanting you to do the impossible or change things that ends up throwing the whole kitchen out of whack and leaves you inwardly screaming at the sheer entitlement of some people, I can’t help but admire a place like Chingon that says up front “This is what we do. We only do this. We do it well, and if you don’t like what we offer and how we do it, there’s the door.” This reversed sense of entitlement coming from a restaurant’s end is liable to drive some customers completely up the wall at facing a bunch of rules and having any greater sense of choice taken away from them, but I actually found the simplicity of it refreshing. It is certainly nice to have the option of somewhere like Chingon around, a place where you know what you’re going to get, that may be very simple in concept, but is well done and, most importantly, satisfying. So cut the crap, and have a damn taco.
413 Swan Street, Richmond
Ph: 9429 5695