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Lunch (and dinner) review: Lucky Lupitas Transit Store
If, like Carmen Sandiego, you’re wondering where in the world Lucky Lupitas is now then there’s some good news. After a quiet move from its original Bedford Park location earlier this year, the much beloved Mexican & Latin American eatery has taken temporary shelter next to Tony Tomatoes on O’Connell Street in North Adelaide.
Lucky Lupita’s Transit Store
1/163 O’Connell Street
(08) 8267 3082 (delivery is also available via Mlkman)
Thursday and Friday: 11:30am – 2pm
Sunday: 12 noon – 2pm
Tuesday – Thursday and Sunday: 5:30pm – 9pm
Friday and Saturday: 5:30pm – 10pm
Owner Walter Ventura (Mexican Society of Chinatown, ULC, Cliché Exhibition, Tony Tomatoes, Ruby Red Flamingo, Hispanic Mechanic) will be moving the restaurant to an undisclosed permanent location sometime soon. But with all this shifting around it’s a good idea to be sure the product stays the same, and we’ve taken the guess work out for you.
Décor in the temporary spot – called the Transit Store – is simple and clean, the high ceilings and light wood finish on most surfaces keep it fresh. Tables are mainly uncluttered with only the bare necessities in place. A few wine glasses and enamel plates are all that sit on service benches and wood grain cutlery boxes blend in to table tops allowing the colourful accents to shine.
A featured lightbox at the back of the room announces “bulk goods”, which is a simple way to excuse the tidy line of pallets that separates the dining room with cartons of Jarritos soft drink, imported beer and canned hominy (a Mexican delicacy made of treated corn kernels). The space is far cleaner and lighter than Lucky Lupitas’ previous iteration, which is a welcome change.
The food is presented similarly and specialities like the hamburguesa (that’s the burger, yes), ribs and corn are still available. An array of tacos and larger meat dishes are on offer as well. Sticking with the classics, we tasted the burger, ribs, corn, a taco and a dessert for good measure.
The ribs were smoky, rich and meltingly tender with a generous slather of the salsa of choice (chipotle or chimichurri), which you are supposed to choose between, so obviously we got both. The burger was a little disappointing – with a lot of soft textures and an overall blandness, it was easy to forget.
This is especially sad, seeing as though Chef Gregory Hill (ULC & Hispanic Mechanic) and Josh Cook’s burger at the original location is such a fond and still-delicious memory.
The same goes for the fish taco, which featured heavily vinegared pickles and a lack in depth but, did at least have a nice firmness from the fish and good chew on the corn tortilla. We recommend you skip the corn tortillas and go straight for corn on the cob to avoid disappointment, because charred corn slathered in chipotle mayo and rolled in cheese is pretty hard to be disappointed by. Lucky’s Elote (corn) has our back.
Dessert was a Mexican chocolate tart with tequila in the ganache filling (an obvious pull factor). It was garnished with a large helping of sugary vanilla cream. The tart was pleasant but hindered by an overabundance of sweet, whipped-cream-related childhood memories.
The ambience and service were well reflected in the pricing and for a popup location it has an impressively permanent feel – it wouldn’t be out of place as a fixture. Staff are very friendly and helpful, so much so that they’ll even commend you on your broken Spanish skills. Cerveza, anyone?