El Loco at Slip Inn, Sydney CBD

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to visit Merivale's newly permanent El Loco at Slip Inn for a Blogger's Fiesta dinner.  Of course I jumped at the opportunity - who can resist anything with Fiesta in the title?

I have not visited the Slip Inn in a very long time.  Thinking of my previous visits during my uni days (years ago!), I remember having an occasional pub meal in the courtyard on weeknights, Chinese Laundry once or twice on Saturday nights and sometimes dropping by for a quiet drink with friends.  After a while, I didn't really have any reason to visit because there wasn't anything new and the only distinctive thing I could say about it was that it was where Princess Mary met her Prince Frederik!

It has changed a lot since then.  Now that El Loco has taken up residence, there are pretty lights strung over the courtyard, bright colours splashed everywhere and a general flair of Mexican fun.
The dinner started at 6pm and it was a great excuse to leave work early.  Usually I don't finish work until late and I am always taken aback by how many people are out and about at this hour.  Oh the envy!  The Slip Inn was no different.  Even though it was relatively early, most of the tables in the courtyard were already filled with people kicking back and starting their night.  I guess Sydneysiders know when they're onto a good thing!

I also wanted to arrive on time so that I could get the most out of meeting some other food bloggers.  As it turns out, I met one within seconds of walking into the courtyard - the very lovely JENisHUNGRY tapped me and asked if I was also a food blogger - turns out we were both lost trying to find the others!

We manged to find our way to the table and were greeted with lots and lots of drinks...

A variety of cocktails (L-R)
Passionfruit Batida - Espolon tequila shaken with apple and lime juice, fresh passionfruit and Agave SyrupPink Cuco - El Loco's house slushy of tequila, pink grapefruit and lime juice, homemade coriander and raw ginger syrupLoco Rojo Magarita - freshly pressed beetroot and lime juices shaken with Espolon Reposado, pomegranate and grapefruit bitters, lime zest sea salt rim

I had a Pink Cuco and the slushy texture was fun.  The taste reminded me a bit of ginger ale.  I thought the fresh Passionfruit Batida was cute served with the fresh passionfruit on top - and also fun to scoop it out the flesh for an additional zing!
An army of different tacos came out for us to try.  My favourite was the Baja Fish with chipotle mayo served with salsa verde on a lettuce leaf.  All of the tacos can be substituted for lettuce leaf instead of a tortilla and I actually prefer the lettuce leaf.  The lettuce is crisp, adds another flavour and reminds me of an Asian style sang choy bow.

A word of warning - I think it is humanely impossible to eat tacos without spilling juices and filling everywhere.  Make sure that you have napkins and forks handy!

The entrees continued and included Dan Hong's famous hot dog.  The hot dog is pretty darn good.  It's a grilled frankfurt served on a pillowy soft bun with pickled jalepenos, pico ge gallo, mayonnaise and cheese.  That soft stringy cheese is kind of addictive.

The piping hot french fries served with chipotle dipping sauce made a good addition to the feast.  As did the corn chips with fresh guacamole and salsa.  You really can't go wrong with these in a group setting.

 Char-grilled baby corn and heirloom tomato salad with popcorn and ranchero dressing

Grilled corn always tastes so good!  This was one of my favourite dishes of the night.  I love corn used in salads, especially when it's served with a creamy dressing.  I would order this again all for myself.

Cobia (black kingfish) ceviche
with fennel and lime dressing, Vietnamese mint, green apple and coriander salad

I didn't expect to see a ceviche on the menu and it seemed a bit out of place but I wasn't complaining.  I can eat raw fish any day and the small mountain of greenery on top made me feel healthy :)

One of the differences between El Loco at Slip Inn and the one at Surry Hills is that this venue serves more mains.  We were told that it was to cater to the pub crowd and I think it's a great idea.  The mains were ginormous and I can see how a hungry CBD worker could fill up on one of these.

Roasted pork belly, crackling, Mexican rice, apple and cucumber salad with pineapple salsa

BBQ chicken with chipotle mayo, salsa roja, radish and fennel salad, Mexican rice

The BBQ chicken is served charred but the meat was surprisingly still soft and tasted like it had been marinated for a while.  In case you can't tell, that is literally like half a chicken on the plate. A generous serving for sure and you can go to town like Fred Flintstone on it!

Grilled minute steak -200g scotch fillet, radish and fennel salad, chipotle fries, pico de gallo

The only thing that seemed Mexican with the steak was the serving of pico de gallo on the side.  I probably wouldn't order this myself but I could see how it would appeal to the customers who are used to the old Slip Inn pub food.

 Grilled fish fillet, salsa verde, radish and fennel salad, Mexican rice

I ordered the fish as my main and it was delicious.  The fish was well cooked and fell apart with a prod of the fork.  The salsa verde was a nice touch and I also enjoyed the mexican rice as a side - come to think of it, I liked every part of my main.

By this stage, I was feeling stuffed to the brim.  But there was still dessert!

Churros with dulce de leche dipping sauce

Hot hot hot! These were liable to burn your fingers off, they were so hot and fresh from the kitchen.  Coated in sugar and soft on the inside, the churros were a nice way to finish the meal.

The whole night was so much fun and I should also mention that the DJ played the best music too!  It was really nice to meet the others and put some faces to names (of blogs).

I'm glad that they revamped the Slip Inn and I can see how even more people are going to flock here - myself included. 

The Food Book dined as a guest of SBPR.

El Loco on Urbanspoon


We have been writing about food in Sydney since 2009. No place is too far or too wide for us to travel to visit. We always give an honest opinion and love to hear your comments too. Here's to an ever-growing society of foodies!


  1. I've really got to get there one day! I think your review has pushed it up to the top of the list! :D

  2. wow those tacos look great, i'm going to go this week

  3. Looks wonderful - I was invited to this but was out of town due to family stuff. Bummer! I like that they have more mains than Surry Hills which seems much more snacky.

  4. Hi Lorraine: I'll keep an eye out for a review on your blog!

    Hi jathon: Let me know if you decide to go for lettuce leaf or taco shell!

    Hi Missy Piggy: Such a shame that you couldn't make it, would have been great to meet! And yes, I'm in favour of more mains and more room to move around too compared to the Surry Hills venue

  5. Hi! We were on the other table - sorry we didn't get a chance to chat! Hope to see you at the next event and meet properly!
    Jim & Chrissy
    Btw, that grilled fish was good, wasn't it?!

  6. Ooo reading this post has made me crave it all over again! so yum...

  7. Hi Jim: Shame we didn't get a chance to meet, hopefully next time! The grilled fish was so much better than I thought it would be!

    Hi Jen: Same here, I definitely need to go again for a whole plate of the corn salad for myself.