09/04/2008 - 22:00

South-of-the-border style in the city

09/04/2008 - 22:00

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Feeling like a nibble after nine, but can't find anywhere that offers the kind of hearty snack you’re looking for? Well, it seems you’re not alone.

Feeling like a nibble after nine? Maybe something a little more substantial? Something exotic, perhaps? Can’t find anywhere that offers the kind of hearty snack you’re looking for?

Well, it seems you’re not alone.

Even North Perth, a suburb with a busy night life thanks to the Rosemount Hotel on the corner of Fitzgerald and Angove streets, didn’t have a late-night eatery before the Flying Taco opened two months ago.

The take-away or dine-in venue is located at 40 Angove Street, just a couple of shops up from Milkd (which featured in Gusto in the December 6 2007 edition of WA Business News). It’s open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to late, and till 1am on Saturday.

Owned and operated by Californian-born chef Anna Heifetz, the venue specialises in traditional Mexican food served in a modern format, where customers can make their own meal by choosing from a range of fillings and wraps.

Ms Heifetz says that, when she moved to Perth from Los Angeles three years ago, she was shocked that all the eating places would shut around eight or 9pm.

“It became my mission to open a place that would do fast food, that would be affordable, good for you and made with love,” she told Gusto.

In LA, Ms Heifetz had grown up in an environment where there was an abundance of real traditional Mexican food; in contrast, she says, Perth lacked a proper Mexican restaurant.

“The format [of the Flying Taco menu] is modernised but the recipes are simple Mexican things. It’s straight forward; the way we cook it is the way they cook it in Mexico,” Ms Heifetz says.

After working as a sous chef at the Georges Street Bistro in Fremantle, Ms Heifetz started to look at opening her own place.

“I had to learn more about how to make Mexican food. So I read a lot of cookbooks and I went to Mexico City last September to take a Mexican cuisine class with chefs Ric Bailess and Roberto Santibanez,” she says.

Ms Heifetz says finding a constant supply of fresh products has been more difficult than sourcing the specific ingredients required for Mexican cuisine, such as dry chillies.

“I find it harder to find a constant supply of the fresh ingredients here, like avocados,” she says.

“In Los Angeles, avocados are everywhere and cheap. I never thought it would be an issue here...limes are also really expensive in Perth.

“You can’t really do Mexican food without those two ingredients though, avocados and fresh lime juice.”

Business has been brisk at the Flying Taco, thanks to word-of-mouth referrals, according to Ms Heifetz.

She says there are, on average, 50 people coming through on weekdays up to 100 people on weekend nights, with the Rosemount Hotel surprisingly not a major contributor to the Flying Taco’s clientele.

“We expected to get a lot of customers from the pub, but we got a lot less than what we expected; we actually get a lot of people who live in the neighbourhood coming in,” Ms Heifetz says.

The simple format of the Flying Taco has already appealed to a couple of entrepreneurs, who Ms Heifetz says have offered their services if she is willing to open another venue.

“It’s an easy system to replicate but at the same time I am happy to keep this place for running for another six month at least to develop a good reputation,” she says.

The menu includes a choice of wrapping styles – the quesadilla and the burrito – two different types of flour tortilla, and the taco, which is a corn tortilla.
There are five different fillings to choose from, including the carnitas, which is a pork shoulder stewed then fried served with grilled pineapple, or the mole poblano, shredded chicken in a sauce of chiles, nuts and chocolate.

There is also a vegetarian option available.
Sauces and sides include refried beans, guacamole, and tortilla chips, all of which are home made.

The venue has a fairly simple decoration with an open kitchen at the back.

Ms Heifetz currently has one employee, Tim Rank, although she says she’s hoping to find another cook when the right person comes along.

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