What to order at Tres a Cinco

Published on 3 December 2020

Photo: Oyster with jalapeno and agave dressing; taco de pescado; chicken skewer al pastor; kingfish aguachile and a Paloma at Tres a Cinco (credit: Tres a Cinco)

The inside word on the menu of the MoVida team's new Mexican adventure from chefs Sarai Castillo and Frank Camorra.

Tres a Cinco evolved out of adversity and opportunity born of lockdown. “The old Bar Tini, we felt, needed to adapt to current times,” says MoVida chef and co-owner Frank Camorra. “Having three similar offers at a similar price point in Hosier Lane didn’t seem sustainable.” At the same time, MoVida had been offering a home delivery food box called Comida Corrida, prepared by its international staff. Sarai Castillo, the chef at Bar Tini, was producing what Camorra calls “delicious, unassuming home-style Mexican food”. From these two parts sprang a greater whole: the idea of turning Bar Tini into a cantina doing food all day, while still hanging onto its late-night drinks side as well.

“Tres a Cinco is really there for people to use how they wish,” says Camorra. “A hybrid Melbourne-Mexican way of dining, popping in for a quick drink, a few tacos for lunch, or a late-night feed for hospitality. It’s there to be used and enjoyed, but at the core it’s always about delicious and simple Mexican food.”

Here are Castillo’s picks of the menu.

First things first: how do you want us to say the name?

It’s “TRAYZ ah SEEN-ko”. In English, “three to five”. (It’s less about Mexican gang codes than our street number on Hosier Lane.)

Name the dish that is quintessentially Tres a Cinco.
I’d say the kingfish aguachile. Aguachile is a dressing, an almost soup-like dressing with lime, jalapeño, cucumber, avocado and onion, that’s used to cure seafood. It’s spicy, refreshing and great with a beer. In Guadalajara, the classic aguachile restaurants are places that people go on Sundays to recover from big Saturdays. In Mexico we say, ‘the chilli will make you sweat': the perfect hangover cure.

Speaking of which, how about a drink?
Tequila, tequila, tequila … and mezcal. And freezing-cold beers. And maybe more tequila. But also some cocktails, from my favourite, the Paloma, which is the the everyday Guadalajara drink, though to Margaritas, and cocktails made with mezcal.

I’m here for a good time, not a long time.
You want quick? Order the crab tostadas and beef asada taco and I’ll have them in front of you before you take a sip of your first Paloma.

Got anything light and fresh? 
“Pretty much everything on the menu is light and fresh, but I’m partial to the fish taco on a break or after finishing service,” Frank Camorra chimes in. “Sarai uses leatherjacket fillets In a super-light, crisp batter. Just a few herbs and jalapeño, it’s all about the delicious fish, the crunch of the batter and the soft corn tortilla, with a touch of heat.”

I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
You’ve got lots to choose from, but the coliflor taco is my favourite taco on the menu. I’d also suggest the corn pastry empanada de calabaza; I love it with the peanut mole we serve. The grilled corn is another favourite – it’s street food we’d eat on a stroll with the family in Mexico.

Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
Actually, you can go big without going crazy here. This is 2020, so at Tres a Cinco we want to make people happy without them having to spend all of next week’s rent. That said, of course, it depends how high up shelf you want to go with your tequila...

And to close?
Digestif? Tequila. Aperitivo? Tequila. Going home? What about another tequila?

Tres a Cinco, lunch and dinner Wed-Sat, 3-5 Hosier La, Melbourne, tresacinco.com.au.


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