Set deep in Seminyak’s beating heart you’ll find a quirky space with clashing prints, vintage vibes and Mexican flavours. Opened as a tribute to Mexico’s original party town, Acapulco, Motel Mexicola has a decor and vibe that are as bold as its flavours.
Spread over a number of levels, this expansive entertainment venue is just that: entertaining. Looking not only to serve exceptional food and beverage, its founding team has focused on the broader areas of art, music and fun, dishing up a lifestyle that can’t be found anywhere else.
The collaboration of owners are behind some of your favourite Sydney haunts – The Bucket List, Icebergs and Da Orazio, as well as Surry Hills’ newcomer, Harpoon Harry’s. The dream of opening Motel Mexicola came to life after two of the partners, Adrian Reed and Nigdali Lupercio, had huge success with Rojo Rocket in Australia (Mexicola’s younger sister) and decided to bring the same concept to the archipelago.
The space itself is split into a few sections, but the sense of fun and frivolity is common across every single one. Upon approaching, look for the bright yellow umbrellas. They are just the first indication of what’s to come inside.
The bright colour theme continues with splashes of paint across the front entrance and the interior walls. Once inside, you’ll find a huge table covered in marigolds – you’ve just encountered the Motel Mexicola ‘shrine’, complete with retro photographs and thick candles overflowing with wax.
Keep going to find the central courtyard, where all the action takes place. Bars line the perimeter, dishing up, amongst other libations, Mexico’s drink of choice: tequila. However, you may not need to even go to the bar to sample it – the staff have been known to make laps of the area, pouring a shot straight into your mouth.
Once you’ve found a drink, take a seat at one of the brightly coloured tables for deliciously authentic Mexican fare. Mexicola’s Head Chef, Steven Skelly, shares the owners’ love of authentic Mexican street food and a desire to ‘up the ante’ when it comes to Bali’s taqueria offerings. He arrives with 23 years experience working for some of Sydney’s best chefs, including Greg Doyle, Grant King, Stephen Hodges and Tony Bilston.
Steven’s kitchen team sources produce as good as any back home – the chefs use almost exclusively local produce, apart from authentic Mexican dried chillies and specialty masa flours that are imported directly from Mexico for the house-made tortillas.
The menu is full of mouth-watering tostadas, empanadas, quesadillas, tacos and salads, but the best way to get the fiesta started is with the Feed Me menu. Let the staff run you through a five-course journey with a selection of esquittes, tostadas, tacos, ceviche and a few of the mains, all designed to share.
If you’re just looking for something to nibble on, turn to the signature streetstyle tacos – order a selection of the costilla with shredded pork ribs, the jaiba suave with soft shell crab and pineapple salsa, and the pollo with marinated chicken and pico de gallo. Sample Adrian’s personal favourite, the baja taco, which he describes as ‘Mexican fish and chips’, or refresh your palate with the ceviche de coco – a tuna and young coconut ceviche spiked with ginger and chilli.
Vegetarians need not despair, the delectable calabaza rotizada is waiting for you – agave-roasted pumpkin accompanied by grilled corn, black beans, pumpkin and sunflower seeds with a tangy yoghurt dressing. Finish any meal with watermelon in cinnamon sugar – the perfect dessert for humid climates.
Naturally, you’ll want to pair your tacos with some of the island’s best cocktails. Sip on the El Agave and Passionfruit Smash, an intoxicating combination of smashed passionfruit, mint and ripe pineapples, balanced perfectly with local rainforest honey, Jose Cuervo tequila and a good measure of Grand Marnier. If that doesn’t tickle your taste buds, try Manuela’s mojito, featuring a secret rum blend with organic mint, local limes and house-pressed sugar cane, or a classic margarita, made using 100% blue agave tequila.
If vino is your preference, you’ll find the wine list to be concise but considered, with drops hailing from various regions such as Chile’s Maipo Valley, Spain’s Rioja and California’s Central Valley.
Come back the next day for Mexico’s favourite hangover cure, the Michelada – fresh tomato juice with a hit of Mexican chilli and lime, accompanied by a full bottle of San Miguel Pilsner Pale. But the most important ingredient at Motel Mexicola is fun. Dance on the table tops until the wee hours and let your wildest holiday dreams come true. They may take the food seriously at this crazy cantina, but the experience is nothing but pure delight.