IT was a glorious winter’s day in South Fremantle when I went for lunch on Friday.
Couples were holding hands and smiling, and it felt like things were finally getting back to normal.
Unfortunately my dining partner Jambo hadn’t been outside in months and looked like Howard Hughes in the 1970s.
I ushered him mumbling towards La Cabana, a bar/taqueria on South Terrace, which had been getting good word-of-mouth.
The courtyard was already filling up with the bold and the beautiful when we arrived, and it felt like one of those “happening” places that was on the up.
La Cabana had a small selection of tacos/tostadas, share dishes, sides and desserts, and is the sort of place you would enjoy some nibbles with drinks as opposed to a big formal meal.
The taqueria also had some vegetarian options (mushroom tacos, corn tentacles) and a “raw bar” with dishes like Albany oysters and octopus tostada.
I kicked things off with the ceviche tostada ($8.5).
They were an absolute delight with the snapper, avocado and pepperberry creating a complex burst of flavour.
The dish was drizzled in a thick creamy dressing, but it wasn’t cloying, and the red onion and diced apple kept things fresh and zinging.
Underpinning everything was a crunchy tostado, which added a nice texture to the soft fish and avocado.
It’s hard to get a ceviche, and even harder to get a good one, so this was really enjoyable.
The pleasant waiter was soon back with our mains – the dainty tacos were arranged on a wooden board and looked like culinary jellyfish with sliced cabbage for tentacles. Top marks for presentation.
My baja taco ($8) was another triumph: The ‘jalapeno fish popper’ had a serious kick and was layered with guacamole, chipotle mayo and pickled cabbage.
The battered fish had a satisfying crunch and was lovely and fresh inside.
Across the table, Jambo was raving about his lengua taco ($6).
“Loved this one: the braised beef tongue was flavoursome and tender, and the pickled onion and salsa were incredible.
“Every ingredient was perfectly balanced. Could eat them everyday.”
His vegetarian batata ($6) was going down well too: “It’s packed full of flavour and the red activated cabbage gives it the crunch to complement the sweet potato. Ten out of ten for me.”
Situated close to South Beach, La Cabana is a great spot to people watch, and we enjoyed a wacky procession of beach bums, hipsters, and baby-boomers desperately clinging onto flower power.
The only disappointment in the meal were the sticky lamb ribs to share ($22).
They tasted great, but there were only two ribs on the plate – that’s $11 a rib.
Jambo’s was a bit too fatty and the dish didn’t reach the height of the tostadas and tacos.
La Cabana is lots of fun and a great spot to enjoy some gourmet tacos with friends (Sunday arvo would be fantastic).
They have a decent range of craft beers on tap and the seasonal menu will keep you coming back for more.
La Cabana – bar and taqueria
400 South Terrace, South Fremantle