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May 14, 2015
Adelaide's Best

Mexican Society of Chinatown

Mesa Lunga calls it quits to make way for a new idea from restaurateur Walter Ventura - Mexican Society of Chinatown.

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  • Pictures and words: Joshua Fanning

We’ve been keeping an eye on progress at the corner of Gouger and Morphett Streets in the city’s culinary heartland. For months we worried that progress on Walter Ventura’s (Ruby Red Flamingo, Cliché Exhibition, Tony Tomatoes, United Latino Cocina, Hispanic Mechanic) latest project had stalled. The paper hoarding had started to bleach in the sun and fall down revealing little to no progress on the interior.

This week however has seen a flurry of activity at the former Mesa Lunga and Sangria site. And today when CityMag stopped to ask how it was going, the cheerful painter was happy to say that Mexican Society of Chinatown was opening tonight. Tonight! Friday October ninth. 

The interior consists of a restrained decorative theme that leans much more towards a Western version of Mexico than other purist examples we’ve seen. Muted pastel pinks and blues and sparkling pendant lights bring warmth to the timber construction that defines the new look for the restaurant. Where Sangria was is still a little booze nook for the after-fivers and again, our source the painter, says this smaller space will be more drinks focused than next door.

A fun and lively looking place in arguably one of the best locations in Adelaide, Mexican Society of Chinatown has every chance to grab a good audience. However, the service and, ultimately, the food that so disappointed return customers at Mesa Lunga will need to launch at a considerably higher level to achieve any cut-through in Adelaide’s vastly improved food scene.



News broke early this year (via Facebook) that Mesa Lunga was finally packing up their shabby service and sub-par menu and pushing on into the twilight of the early 2000s. The closure is not a death but, more accurately, a retirement.  For the restaurateur group behind the Mesa Lunga hit (and no-one should deny its heyday) are simply shuffling their cards.

Bedford Park darling, Lucky Lupitas, is rumoured to be the card being shuffled to the front of the New World Lifestyle pack – moving into the primo tenancy at the corner of Gouger and Morphett Streets. The above image shows a different name, however, being plastered over the windows. With reports recently of Lupita’s move to postcode 5000 it’s unconfirmed as yet whether the relocation will also mean a re-brand. However, the timing of the Lupita’s move seems to coincide with the “winter 2015” date on Mesa Lunga’s windows.

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