Once upon a time, late in the afternoon, two young ladies were searching for a drink and some food in Melbourne's CBD. They stumbled across open doors leading to a staircase, and up that staircase was...
From this humble beginning, Taco Bill restaurants (Russell St and South Melbourne in particular) have become somewhat symbolic for my friends and I. From birthday gatherings to dinner and drinks before tenpin bowling ('TacoStrike'), Taco Bill offers an informal and vibrant environment where we can eat and drink and feel merry. (I can literally fill entire photo albums with crazy photos and memories from our times there.) And even though we're older and less enthusiastic about fish bowl margaritas and giant sombreros these days, Taco Bill is still a familiar haunt we like to visit occasionally.
Since my views of Taco Bill are obviously skewed, here are Dan's thoughts from our most recent visit...
Having just worked up a sizeable appetite at the gym, Dani alerted me to the fact there was a Taco Bill just around the corner, it seemed like a convenient choice.
As we headed up the stairs we could hear the slight clattering of plates and the low rumble of voices emanating from the current crop of diners, so we continued eagerly. Walking into a room that could have been designed by a Grade 6 Musical crew, we were greeted by a waitress who kindly showed us to a table and placed menus in our hands.
The waitress brought a complimentary appetiser to the table, which we nibbled on while browsing the menu. Ok, we devoured it rather than nibbled, but we'd just been at the gym, so you can't blame us.
Free corn chips and salsa
Feeling parched, our eyes wandered to the drinks menu (which also looked like it had been put together by someone in Grade 6). Dani went with her fail safe Lemon Margarita, which she frequently tells me is the only way to drink a frozen margarita. So naturally I order a Pineapple Margarita, which also caught the waitress a little off guard.
Our drinks went down a treat and we were ready to order. With Dani's extensive experiences at Taco Bill, she didn't even have to open her menu and ordered the soft shell beef tacos. She described the shredded beef as juicy and tender. The tortillas as soft and handy for consuming the taco sans cutlery, though this method also caused some of the tomato salsa to drip out of the bottom end. Overall, there was nothing overly stimulating about the tacos but at roughly $5.50 (per taco) you cant beat the value for money. And compared to the beef tacos from Beach Burrito Company, Taco Bill's easily had more flavour and both could have done with more kick.
I selected one beef and one chicken enchilada, and what arrived looked more like a shallow pool of cheese. Starting on the chicken enchilada, I must say I was somewhat disappointed. The flavours just weren't quite there and I will be avoiding this one in the future. But my dish wasn't finished, there was still the beef enchilada... and Dani's description of the taco fits perfectly. The beef was juicy and tender, and the garnish of spring onion helped give it that fresh crisp element.
Beef and Chicken Enchiladas
So we'd scoffed the complimentary corn chips, enjoyed our mains and margaritas... but we still wanted more. I wanted more. I asked for the dessert menu and after reviewing it - I wanted the Death by Chocolate!
And boy was I happy when it arrived. Chocolate ice-cream and chocolate mousse adorned with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and chocolate brownies. From the second I experienced my first taste, it became my mission to finish every last scrap of this dessert. The mousse was light and fluffy, as it should be, as was the cream. The brownies and ice-cream added that extra texture it needed. Lastly, the chocolate sauce (much like a McDonald's Sundae) tied it all together superbly and had my taste bud doing a merry little dance. Although now I probably need to go straight back to gym.
Death by Chocolate
Compared to modern Mexican eateries, Taco Bill doesn't offer 'authentic Mexican' cuisine or raved-about culinary skills. Their meals are fairly standard and probably pretty easy to make. But the restaurants are vibrant and even theatrical at times (what else would you expect when they hand out giant sombreros with an order for a 1.4l margarita). Oh and you're unlikely to ever to be told it is a 2 hour wait for a table too. So if you are after some clichéd Mexican food, that is tasty without pretension, then Taco Bill is a winner.
Name: Taco Bill
Location: 142 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000