Welcome Casa Merida, Londres 126, Santa Catarina
Milpa Collective, who own and operate authentic Mexican eateries across Sydney (Calita, Carbón, Taqiza and Sonora), and Caribbean-inspired cocktail bar La Palma, will launch three new venues across Sydney from September – Casa Merida, Londres 126 and Santa Catarina.
Casa Merida is in a renovated classic terrace house on Kellett Street in Potts Point – slated to launch on 8 September – showcasing traditional Mayan cuisine found on the Yucatán Peninsula. The 70-seat venue will recreate the feeling of a Méridan-style house, juxtaposing time-worn interiors with chandeliers and luxe gold detailing to create a feeling of history, drawing inspiration from the charm and opulence of renowned Yucatán destinations such as Coqui Coqui Mérida. The menu will centre around classic Mayan dishes such as infladitas, ceviche and cochinita pibil, all utilising the best in local produce. The drinks menu will showcase new Mexican spirits, rare mezcals imported from indigenous communities in Oaxaca and tequilas exclusive to the venue, including top-tier selections of Clase Azul Ultra, 3-4-5 and Casa Dragones at $300–$400 a shot. The cocktail list draws inspiration from the Mérida region’s tropical products and ritual Mayan beverages such as Balché and Saká, along with an extensive list of margaritas and Latin American classic cocktails. The Australian-led wine list will champion organic, biodynamic and sustainable producers, with a selection of international classics such as Chablis, Sancerre and Champagne.
Pablo Galindo Vargas, co-owner of Milpa Collective, says of the expansion: “In essence, Milpa Collective is a celebration of the beauty and vibrancy of our home country, Mexico. It is a rich tapestry of unique cities, flavours, people and experiences. We want to honour that by representing a different part of Mexico in each of our venues. To be able to build on that story with the launch of these three new venues is incredibly humbling. We can’t wait to open our doors and share the vibrancy and diversity of Mexico with our existing community and new communities”.
Opening on Clarence Street in the CBD in late September, Santa Catarina pays homage to Oaxacan municipality, ‘Santa Catarina Minas’. The 100-seat mezcal bar highlights the ancestral cuisine of Oaxaca, through an elegant and modern menu that focuses on traditional Mexican dishes such as mole madre and tetelas, favouring the use of house-made maize. With the majority of the world’s mezcal being sourced from Oaxaca, Santa Catarina will be an opportunity to showcase some of the more rare and authentic varieties, through Milpa Collective’s direct connection to Oaxacan producers who still utilise ancestral techniques through distilling in clay pots. Santa Catarina will have a bar and restaurant, with a large wine cellar and open kitchen, as well as an intimate candlelit private dining room, creating the perfect week-round drinking and dining destination in the CBD.
“Mezcal and tequila are at the heart of all of our venues, but Santa Catarina is an opportunity for us to showcase something really special. We have sourced ancestral mezcals distilled in clay alongside rare and premium tequilas as part of what we call our ‘Mezcal Cazadores de Sabores’ (‘Mezcal hunters of flavour’) approach, and we’re very excited to share them with our community,” says Milpa Collective co-owner Liber Osorio. “We have a great respect for the indigenous producers of Oaxaca, and are committed to representing fair trade, sustainably sourced products through all of our venues, and our beverage offering is a huge part of that.”
Named after one of the most iconic home addresses in Mexico City, Londres 126 is Milpa’s third opening, in Sydney’s new Quay Quarter in late October. A melting-pot of culture, creativity and imagination, the sophisticated wood-panelled ‘gastro cantina’ is inspired by the legendary parties thrown by renowned artist Frida Kahlo at her home Londres 126 in the 1940s. Drawing inspiration from the dynamic food scene of Mexico City, the menu will feature flexible set menus of botanas and mains, using the best in seasonal Australian produce, and complemented by a beverage list that showcases an extensive range of rare wild agave mezcals and high-quality boutique tequilas. Mexican spins on classic cocktails will feature heavily, alongside an Australian-led wine list with top-tier French classics such as Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Sancerre and Champagne.
Casa Merida will open on 8 September, operating Tuesday to Friday: 5.30pm–late; Saturday & Sunday: 12pm–late. Bookings available here.
Santa Catarina will also open in late September, operating Tuesday to Saturday: 12pm–late. Bookings available here.
Londres 126 will open in October.
Images: Trent van der Jagt