The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry | A Sydney Food Blog

La Lupita, The Basement, Sydney

June 19th, 2013  |  Published in Restaurants  |  2 Comments


La Lupita unpacks a lot of fun and firepower at The Basement in Circular Quay. This colourful installment to the music venue gives you a reason to visit beyond the bands commanding the stage.


While this Mexican eatery has only recently taken up residency at this site, La Lupita isn’t entirely a newcomer to the Sydney dining scene; it has existed previously – in short bursts, anyway – as a pop-up restaurant in Canterbury; its Al Carbon food truck, has made a more permanent impression, all over town, with its taco-selling presence.


There’s a street-stall vibrancy to the set-up at The Basement. Once you’ve ticked your choices on a menu, you give your battle plans to the “vendors”. They’ll crank out fresh-made tortillas, which toast and puff along a conveyor belt, before being loaded with spit-roasted meats (spiced chicken, Wagyu beef or, Will’s recommendation – spiced pork with charred chunks of pineapple). Vego options include Cowboy Beans with tortilla chips, salsa and a heat-cooling Mexicana crema ($10) or Roasted Corn jumbled in with toasted pepitas and seeds, sassy red and green salsa, parmesan shreds and lime. Armed with your order, you then walk over to the salsa station where you learn the limits of your chilli bravado – get too overconfident with the heat levels of the condiments, and you end up experiencing five types of mouthburn. There’s a traffic-stop warning system with the salsas – cards denote the habanero as very hot, salsa verde as less dangerous on the firepower scale, while a creamy guacamole innocently proclaims “I’m not hot!” on its accompanying sign (the smiley face scrawled next to this declaration acts as further tastebud reassurance).

Once you’ve settled your condiment quota; there’s also an assortment of vegies you can freely pile onto your tacos or beans, too. The not-so-fiery radishes, cucumber, carrots and other picks need less of a warning system, though.


On your menu, you can “unlock” the special dessert, which was a coconut panna cotta with chilli chocolate mousse when we there on Saturday. Also present was Victor Valdes, the stage-dominating musician who was furiously mining songs from his Mexican harp as we sat there. Hearing ‘Flame Trees’ covered this way is a real surprise.

I’ve heard a few people credit La Lupita/Al Carbon for the best Mexican food they’ve encountered in Sydney; for me, this joint doesn’t quite steal the title from my favourite (Mexicano in Narrabeen), but it’s still a fun place to be. And given how most meals in this touristy segment of town come with a depressingly overpriced bill, it’s nice to know there’s an eatery where you can score $6 tacos or $10 alternatives – with a busker-beating soundtrack, as a bonus, too.

La Lupita, The Basement, 7 Macquarie Place, Sydney NSW (02) 9251 2797. Follow La Lupita on Facebook.

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  1. Was there a few nights ago, it is a fun place and while limited in selection agree with you $6 is a bargain!

  2. dropped in here a while back. Food was really good. substantial serves and tastey tacos. I like that its… in the city. 😉

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Hi, I'm Lee Tran Lam. When not blogging with my mouth full, I'm usually writing, presenting Local Fidelity on FBi radio, making zines, producing podcasts or continually breaking promises about how I really am gonna get through my book pile one day.

All the good pictures on this blog are by photography ace (and patient boyfriend), Will Reichelt, (all the dodgy ones can be credited to me)!

The lovely banner is by friend and ultra-talented illustrator Grace Lee.

This site redesign was made possible by the next-level generosity and expertise of Daniel Boud, whose code-tinkering ways are only outranked by his seriously inspired way with a camera.

You can read more about my co-conspirators here.

This is a blog I do for pure fun and zero influence – there's no sponsorship, sneaky advertorial or advertising. I pay for all the food mentioned, 'cos it seems the ethical thing to do.


This is a blog about eating and drinking in Sydney, Australia (with the odd cross-border or off-topic detour). BYO appetite.

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