El Publico is the standard bearer for good Mexican in Perth. It has changed hands and chefs since it exploded on to the scene half a decade ago, and has recently spawned a sister venue in West Leederville (Urbana). But the neon mule above the bar still takes pride of place and is still kicking ass on Beaufort Street.
Chef Tommy Payne took on the mantle from opening chef Sam Ward and has ably carried the torch. Chicharron, puffed pork skin heaped with piquant chilli sauce, is a beer snack cum-starter perfect with an ice cold beer before diving into the more complex dishes.
Kingfish aguachile, essentially a Mexican ceviche, is fresh, flavoursome and hits home with mescal, orange and a generous serve of firm kingfish. Steak tartare takes a rustic route with a coarse grind of fresh beef, dressed in lime, mandatory egg and chipotle heat for the full El Publico treatment.
The draw is the still the taco and tostada menu. Made in-house with masa flour, this dedication to getting the basics right pays off. Duck carnitas, on a soft taco loaded with avo, mole and jalapeno hit the mark, as does a crisp tostada with beef rib and sweet and sour tamarind. The go here is most definitely to order on the fly, round by round.
We’re happy to report El Publico is still the hippest Mexican in town.