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Hit your Mexican highs at Trippy Taco

It’s easy to tuck yourself away in the comfortable, retro furniture while you feast yourself senseless on a selection of vegetarian and vegan Mexican fare.

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Image source: 
Holly Hawkins

With the popularity of Mexican restaurants throughout Melbourne, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd, but Trippy Taco is a cut above the rest. They’ve been providing quality vegetarian and vegan Mexican street food-inspired delights from their Northside location for over a decade, and more recently from their Southside brother in St Kilda.

The cool little Gertrude Street shopfront is a short trip from the bustling corner of Gertrude and Smith Streets in Fitzroy. Trippy Taco’s aesthetic is best likened to the cosy and pleasantly garish dining room at your nonna or abuela’s house. Amber coloured stained glass, lace doilies, and burnt orange and forest green tiles embellish the place, while chill, low-key beats play in the background.

It’s easy to tuck yourself away in the comfortable, retro furniture while you feast yourself senseless on a selection of vegetarian and vegan Mexican fare. The eatery is bright, vividly coloured and buzzes pleasantly with life.

The venue is also fully licensed, with an array of alcoholic beverages for every palate, or if that’s not your style, then perhaps indulge in one of the many flavours of Jarrito sodas.

First up we tried the taco combo – one with flavourful tofu – ideal for somebody who wants ample flavour without the meat – and the second with classic Mexican black beans. The tacos were nestled in soft tortillas, and finished off with a slaw of fresh, crisp carrot, beetroot and a squeeze of lime that livened it up perfectly.

The taquitos were a crunchy alternative, filled with a bean mixture and fried to a moreish perfection. They were smothered in lashings of guacamole and salsa, and served with a simple side salad of greens.

For dessert we were treated to my personal favourite: Trippy Taco’s phenomenally good churros, dusted in cinnamon and icing sugar. The batons of goodness are marvellously crisp on the outside, and pillowy soft on the inside. The accompanying chocolate sauce was so delectably rich, cocoa-laden and creamy, I honestly couldn’t tell that it was vegan.

Trippy Taco will forever hold a place above the scores of other Mexican street-food restaurants that have cropped up across Melbourne in the past decade, with its two central locations catering to those on either side of the Yarra River. It serves genuine, tasty and uncomplicated food, the staff are incredibly friendly and the décor is delightfully kitsch.

Paying Homage to the Flavours of Mexico and California

We sit down with owner/director, Simon Fischer, to talk about his inspirations.

How long have you been a chef and what you led you down that career path? I’m not a chef, I’m a passionate cook and have been passionate about tacos since my first real exposure in California and Mexico in the ‘90s. Nobody is a chef at Trippy Taco. I just teach people how to make my recipes.

What makes the restaurant you work at special? So many things as I’ve been doing Trippy Taco for 18 years now in different incarnations. I would say that at the end of the day, it comes down to a combination of our food, the amazing crew, the physical space and of course, our incredibly loyal and amazing customers.

What is your signature/favourite dish to prepare? Tacos of course – doesn’t matter which kind.  Mainly because we make our tortillas fresh to order, there’s really something special about a tortilla fresh off the hotplate.

Tell us about your menu. What makes it special/different? Trippy’s is not (and never has been) easy to categorise which makes it unique, although perhaps frustrating to some. We don’t claim to be authentic, but have lots of authentic elements. To be honest, I’ve never even felt comfortable categorising it as Mexican. I’m not Mexican; Trippy Taco is really a homage to the flavours and experiences of my time being a surf/taco bum in California and Mexico.  We’ve never taken ourselves too seriously. It’s fun, lots of people like it, but it’s not for everybody. 

Find Trippy Taco at 234 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.