ESSENTIAL EATS: CHUPACABRA

AHHH BYRON. YOU NEVER DISAPPOINT IN YOUR PASSION TO EMBRACE GREAT FOOD EXPERIENCES AND THE ADDITION OF BYRON'S OWN MEXICAN TAQUERIA TO THE MIX IS PROOF.

And who can't love a restaurant named after a creature from Latin folklore which thrives on sucking the blood of goats! Chupacabra is the latest venture from Harvest Newrybar and Barrio Eatery who've teamed up with local chef Evan White and his partner Amelia Stokes.

The 60-seat eatery is all Latin feel, with the space awash with brightly coloured walls, wooden tables, antique festoons, lots of palms and cascading greenery inside, and 20 seats out front for soaking up the sunshine while you sip on a blood-red margarita, mezcal negroni, tequila, freshly pressed juice, a Mexican blend of Moonshine coffee or house-made soda.

House-made is the mantra for Evan, whose food direction was truly cemented after visiting and then living in Mexico and taking the time to learn about the culture and history behind the cuisine. The tortillas are freshly made daily - about 800 of them - and are at the heart of the tantalising menu. There'll be tacos al pastor with grilled pineapple, a daily changing ceviche Mexicana, esquites (off-the-cob corn grilled and slathered with condiments), sharing plates from the asado (Argentinian BBQ) and an amazing Cochinitapibil which is slow-cooked pork with sour orange, coriander, lime and pickled onion.

Open windows at the front let the sunlight stream in while you start the day with a morning coffee and maybe a traditional breakfast dish of fried tortilla chips topped with salsa verde, frijoles and a fried egg and a cold-pressed juice of watermelon and dragonfruit.  Or maybe amaranth and coconut-flour pancakes with Mexican fruits and cardamon syrup is more your thing.

At lunchtime, you'll enjoy dishes such as Cape Byron steak with frijoles, cotija cheese, burnt onion and spicy salsa or roasted suckling pig, pork crackling and chile aqua. And as the sunsets?  How about tacos with a smoked duck breast, queso fresco and mandarin habanero sauce, a slow-cooked meat of the day with salsa and tortillas to share, or the amazing flame-grilled octopus with salsa macha, charred tomato and onion, confit potato and coffee butter. Through his work in Brisbane in the last 10 years (Mexican taqueria Coyotito formerly Chingon, Red Hook, The Burrow) and especially in this new venture, Evan believes in the importance of working closely with local producers and growers. Mexico is the birthplace to some of the oldest forms of agriculture and farming, which has always fascinated Evan, so he's all about fresh and local produce wherever possible and Byron serves up most of what he needs.  He has access to the freshest seafood direct from the source as well as locally grown traditional Mexican produce like cream guava, nopales cactus and beautiful jewel corn from local producer Picone Exotics.

So tear yourself away from the beautiful new 5-star round pool and the understated sophisticated luxury which is a signature of every bespoke property at The Bower, at some part of the day or night to try Chupacabra for yourself.  The taqueria is only a minute's walk from the beach at Suffolk Park, and our guess is a quiet stroll through the soft white sand is exactly what you're going to need afterwards!

Arriba!