Location: Hillary’s Boat Harbour, Perth, Western Australia
Food Type: Fast/Casual Tex Mex (Westernized Mexican)
Rating: 3.5 mews out of 5
As of late, Tex Mex franchises have become increasingly popular in Australia. Their main appeal is fresh, modern and quick food, which is a contrast to the often lacking Mexican restaurant scene in Australia. With at least four different companies popping up in Perth alone over the last year, the competition is now high. I decided to venture to the outskirts of Perth to the ever-crowded Hillary’s Boat Harbour, to try the newest franchise runner, Mad Mex. One of the things that drew me in was the hype- as well as advertising on Facebook, Mad Mex sports a very well put together website (www.madmex.com.au) featuring menus, company history etcetera. The site made me quite excited about the food, boasting in their mission statement:
‘Mad Mex serves gourmet burritos and tacos that are made to order only using the freshest produce, flavourful salsas and authentic slow-roasted and grilled meats’
The branding of the chain is done rather beautifully- injecting colour and spice into the advertising. The menu is set out in four different stages:
- The type of dish- many different things to choose from (almost too many!) such as burritos, tacos, nachos, quesedillas. The burritos and tacos all come with rice, sour cream, black beans, cheese and lettuce, which is a rather extensive range of flavours!
- Filling- There are many different meats to choose from, such as shredded pork and beef, grilled chicken, and grilled steak. For a vegetarian option, grilled veggies can be ordered. Might I also mention, most things on the menu are also gluten free!
- Salsas- Again, many different choices of salsas, from a fresh tomato salsa or a corn salsa for a mild option to a very hot salsa for the more adventurous.
Sides- Corn chips with a variety of dips, Jarritos Mexican Soda, and Churros with chocolate dipping sauce look like some of the favourites.
So with this in mind, my partner and I headed to the Hillary’s store to try a very appealing menu! The store itself was relatively busy, with a cheerful décor. We discovered it was a very Subway-esque set-up: the staff would make your burrito in front of you, asking for choices along the way. Although this was a great idea and definitely encourages freshness, it was certainly a tad intimidating for a first timer! The staff were friendly, albeit some of them were a little uncertain- which I think comes with the store being relatively new. We decided to get two small burritos (they also come in regular) one being the shredded pork, the other chicken, and a crispy taco to sample the grilled steak. We added the fresh tomato salsa and the medium salsa. The ingredients all looked really tasty and appealing! The price is about mid range to expensive for a fast food option, you definitely pay for the freshness of the ingredients.
DOWN TO BUSINESS- THE FOOD:
The burritos were a good size considering they were the smaller option, and were wrapped well in foil to make sure there was minimal tasty-meat-juice spillage. On first bite, there was an explosion of flavour, especially from the medium salsa, which I found quite overpowering. The pork was juicy, though didn’t have a very distinctive taste and blended in with the rest of the ingredients of the burrito rather than making itself more known. I found the chicken to be more flavoursome, as I could taste it more, but I felt it was still trying to compete with the other ingredients, which in their defence were very fresh! The burritos were enjoyable, but got quite repetitive, although the flavours were nice, it was hard to taste all the ingredients individually. Both of the burritos, even though having different meats, had a similar flavour, which gives me the impression that most things on the menu would taste… the same! However I would be interested to try something different like a quesedilla or nachos.
The taco was also very nice- the steak was very juicy and cooked well, however I was a little disappointed by the seasoning; which boasted citrus flavours, but was more subtle than I would have liked. Everything was very fresh, the black beans were a very nice addition to the taco. The shell seemed slightly stale- which made it even more difficult than usual to eat! However, all in all, the taco was satisfying.
In addition we sampled the Jarritos Lime Mexican soda, which was not too sweet, and very refreshing!
The food, in summary was enjoyable: and featured very fresh and tasty ingredients. However, the flavourings were a little off- although the ingredients on their own are delicious, when combined there seems to be slightly too much ‘going on’ so to speak. Perhaps if I were to order again, I would cut down on the ingredients in order for the flavours of each part to individually shine through!