40 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills, NSW
0412 061 899
Toby Wilson doesn’t want you to think too hard about Bad Hombre’s menu. It’s Mexican, but not as you know it; using flavour and texture as his guide, Toby creates seemingly unusual combinations that, to him, make perfect sense – pig’s ear and chilli sandwiches or a chipotle quesadilla with shiitakes and kimchi, for example.
It’s about the origin story, Toby said. Tomatoes originated in South America and chilli peppers from Mexico. Bad Hombre’s menu – one part Mexican, one part Japanese, one part Peruvian – is bringing it all back together again. “I’m not trying to challenge people; it’s just how I cook. I want it to be normalised,” he said. “It’s like, just fucking eat it. I don’t do it for the sake of it being weird.”
Toby, of Wedge and Salvage fame, partnered with Neighbourhood’s Sean McManus and business partner John Kennedy to open Bad Hombres, an evolution of his Chinatown pop-up, Ghostboy – but with natural wine and plenty more seating.
The team opened the venue (which was previously Juicy Lucy and Sugarcane) just three weeks after they took over the lease at the Surry Hills site. They started by spraying fire extinguisher foam over the walls, kitchen and dishware – and then spent three days cleaning most of it up (there’s still evidence of it in the white, chalky art on the walls).
The space is unpretentious and doesn’t detract from the food it serves. There’s space for 50, a two-man kitchen and good music. The venue is simple and, in ways, grungy. Red, long sharing tables sit in the centre of the room, with banquette seating on either side. The kitchen is open, allowing the chefs to take centre stage with bold, robust flavours and ingredient combinations that aren’t surfacing elsewhere in Sydney.
Katsu barramundi is served with guacachile and corn tortillas (which are shipped up from Melbourne), while bonito ceviche tostadas sing with soy, lime and avocado. All of the sauces and pickled bits are made in-house, as well as a chipotle pepper-infused olive oil. Bad Hombres’ menu changes depending on what the team feel like – whether they enjoy making a dish, if the weather determines a change of produce, or if they simply have a better idea.
“I’m trying to normalise the idea of using ingredients from everywhere to make a dish. I don’t think that should be a foreign concept, or a strange thing to do,” Toby said. “Every cuisine that is around at the moment is already a fusion cuisine. Tradition doesn’t really exist without fusion in the first place.”