Calaveras is the rowdy twin to owner Gerardo Macip’s other venue, Roca. It’s located above Newtown station and lit almost entirely by strings of fairy lights, creating a dim, lively ambience.
The menu is inspired by Macip’s upbringing in Central Mexico and pays homage to the country’s vibrant cantina culture. There’s no Tex-Mex here. Palm-sized tacos arrive flat and topped with chunky ingredients; for fajitas, grilled beef strips are piled high on fragrant rice with “proper guacamole” (no sour cream) on top and corn tortillas by La Tortilleria on the side; and Macip’s enchiladas are baked in spicy salsa, not cheese. Five house salsas – all house made from imported dried chillies – are at the heart of each dish.
The bar takes pride of place and is framed on either side by striking Día de Muertos-themed artworks. Its shelves hold a hefty range of tequilas and mezcals – all of which are 100 per cent agave. These liquors can be enjoyed neat or in one of Calaveras’s many iterations of the Margarita. A few highlights: the El Diablo (habanero-infused tequila, lime and pineapple juice); Death in Tijuana (mezcal, pink grapefruit and pomegranate with a chilli-salt rim); the Lemon Drop (a classic Margarita made with tequila, limoncello and triple sec); and the Bulldog (a Margarita topped with a Corona).