Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gringo Vibes Mexican Cantina

February 19, 2011
Cindy and I were at a loose end in Thornbury following Women of Letters and decided we'd just wander back along High Street until we came across somewhere we felt like eating. I had a vague idea that there was a newish Mexican place up there somewhere and when we ran into Gringo Vibes and saw that they offered veggie chicken as a filling our decision was made.

Once we sat down and thought about it a bit, we realised that we'd eaten at Gringo Vibes before - both at the Queen Vic Night markets and the Hispanic Festival. I'm not quite sure when they opened their own permanent cafe space, but they've done a nice job of making it cheerful and inviting. It's all very casual, and they do a decent amount of takeaway as well. The menu is a bit more diverse than their mobile offerings - there are burritos, enchiladas, tacos and quesadillas along with a range of sides and some nacho-related options. Most of the veggie options are cheesy, but plenty are vegan-adaptable, although I'm not sure whether there's actually vegan cheese involved or if they just replace it with guacamole or something. There are also a fair number of gluten-free offerings.

Cindy had a powerful mock-meat craving, so she ordered the veggie chicken quesadillas ($14, served with rice, beans, salsa, sour cream and guacamole).

This is a nice colourful dish - the range of sides lifting it from its potentially cheese-heavy glugginess. The mock-chicken was a pretty excellent idea - I think this is the only place in town offering mock-meat Mexican, but as far as I'm concerned it's an idea well worth exploring further.

I decided to stick with something beanier though, going with a refried bean burrito (they also do a black-bean one), which came stuffed with beans, cheese, rice, lettuce, salsa and sour cream with a side of house-made corn-chips ($12). We also ordered a spare guacamole to share around ($3) - it was a bit smoother than my ideal guac, but did a nice job of soothing my mouth when I got carried away with the hot sauce.

The burrito was kind of old-school. Not for Gringo's the crisp, fresh fillings on offer elsewhere - this is heavy on the mush. Which I kind of liked - beans and rice in particular are pretty sure-fire burrito fillings, and at $12 this was a massive and filling treat.

Gringo's version of Mexican food is cheap, veg-friendly and plentiful. Throw in friendly staff, a nice casual venue (that's licensed!) and a location on a fairly dead section of High Street and it's easy to imagine them doing a roaring trade. It's probably not the kind of food you'd travel especially for but if you're in the neighbourhood, you'd be well advised to check it out.

Gringo Vibes Mexican Cantina
489 High Street, Northcote
9013 8543
veg mains $11-$15

Accessibility: There's a flat entryway and things are moderately spacious inside. Ordering and payment happens at a nice, low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.


  1. have you been to mad mex yet? I am from LA and it is the best mexican I have had in australia.casual with lots of veg and vegan options too!



    1. Hi Julie! Not yet, though we're aware that it's opened in Melbourne Central. We'll check it out when we're not in the mood for Lord of the Fries. ;-)

  2. Hmm...this place sounds alright, though the name makes me cringe! You guys are doing a great job as the unofficial Veg-Mex food scouts of Melbourne!

    1. Ha! We do seem to be on something of a tortilla binge lately. :-)

  3. Incredible food. I highly recommend. As a vegetarian, I was thoroughly satisfied. Tonnes of choice! Great service, staff and atmosphere.