I had known Israel Meza from his previous work as the Head Chef at the Mexican Embassy, so last time I went to Honkytonks with my friends I was not surprised to find a newly refurbished menu, featuring a lot more Mexican and appetising dishes. So, I decided to sit down with “Isra” (as I friendly call him) to talk about this new project he started at the beginning of 2014.
What is a Honkytonks?
Professor Katrina Hazzard Gordon describes a honky tonks as “…rough establishments, with country music in the Deep South and Southwest that served alcoholic beverages to a working class clientele. Honky tonks sometimes also offered dancing to piano players or small bands, and were sometimes also centers of prostitution”. With that in mind, our Honkytonks in Canberra preserves a roughness in looks, mixed with originality and down to earth food. It is no coincidence that owner Laurence Kain decided to mix this American concept with the humble Mexican tacos and tequila, which were once despised by the Mexican high class and only loved by underprivileged people.
Chef Isra wanted to bring an authentic taste to the Mexican menu by using fresh authentic ingredients that can be found in Australia. His tacos are made with soft white corn tortillas that are properly heated and won’t break in your hands; the tostadas are fried in situ, to guarantee freshness. He is also very proud of his quesadillas, which method is so popular in the streets of Mexico and at the same time so unique for the Australian market. These quesadillas are made with fresh dough especially prepared by the Honkytonks kitchen, filled with chicken or cooked mushrooms (as a traditional vegetarian option) and fried. The result is an amazing combination of true flavours that will take any Mexican back to their favourite corner, and every Aussie asking for 5 or 6 more.
The Honkytonks menu also features some fast food classics, with a great Mexican twist: the Pablo Sanchez burger, the honkydog, and the nachos. This last dish is prepared exactly as the chef makes it at home when he wants to treat himself and his wife. I was curious to try it out and I can tell you his original recipe turns a doll sloppy dish into a fresh combo of flavours. The soft black beans, the authentic taste of the guac and the special tomato salsa are going to make you come back for more.
Dear Canberrans and visitors I invite you to try Honkytonks Mexican food proposal and give your own verdict. Don’t forget to enjoy the always popular frozen Margaritas this summer. Then, write back and tell me all about it! Next Wednesday 10 December Honkytonks will be host to the Honkytonks Summer Christmas Night Marketsfeaturing artists, designers crafters and much more.