First Look: Macho Radio Bar, a new Tex-Mex spot from Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji
May 18, 2016
Posted by YVONNE TSUI
Mini tostadas ($9) with sea bass ceviche, avocado and cilantro
Prolific restaurateurs Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji have replaced Città, their short-lived Italian restaurant at CityPlace, with Macho Radio Bar, a new Tex-Mex spot.
The name of the new restaurant is meant to evoke a feeling of bold flavors, bold colours, bold drinks and bold experiences. Of course, you also need some bravado to communicate a culture and a cuisine, says Christina Kuypers, director of operations at Macho.
The space — designed by Studio Munge — features whimsical colour splashes and textures.
Macho Radio Bar's patio (IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)
The covered patio seats 100, while the restaurant itself seats around 85. For gaming nerds, Macho offers arcade classics such as Street Fighter and Pac-Man, along with a pinball machine.
From midnight to 2 a.m., beer and bar-rail drinks are $5. The tequila list has around 30 selections, which includes “every single tequila available in Ontario,” says Kuypers. Macho’s aim is to have the largest tequila and mezcal list in Canada.
Frozen margarita (IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)
The cocktail list includes forgotten classics such as the Tequila Sunrise ($8) and a few Mexican-inspired spins on classics, such as the Tejano Tea ($9), which is a play on the Long Island Iced Tea. You can also customize your own agua fresca ($8 by the glass or $35 for a pitcher) by choosing between three base flavours and then adding your choice of spirit. It is also available as a virgin option. And to keep things fun, there are also frozen margaritas ($8).
Chef Guillermo Herbertson (IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)
Chef Guillermo Herbertson, formerly the chef at Barsa Taberna, is a native of Acapulco, Mexico. He has created a menu of Tex-Mex favorites, all under $20. Part of his inspiration comes from his many visits to Texas, where his sister lives.
“I always come back 10 pounds heavier,” he says. “I love the smoked meats they have down there.”
In communicating his cooking philosophy, he echoes the words of his long-time mentor, Tom Brodi, whom he worked under at Turf Lounge and The Ritz-Carlton: “If you would not eat it yourself, don’t serve it.”
Macho cheese bites (IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)
The Macho cheese bites ($7) were inspired by one of Herbertson’s guilty pleasures: Rancheritos, a Mexican-style of chips. It’s his gourmet take on them, and also an homage to Doritos.
“A little bit of Tex and a little bit of Mex,” says Herbertson.
Verde fresca salad (IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)
The Santa Fe salad ($8) is more than just greens. It also has charred corn, radishes, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, romano beans, avocado, corn nuts and fried tortilla strips. The verde fresca ($8) is a melange of green kale, puffed quinoa and Cotija cheese, with a hibiscus flower dressing.
Of course, there are tacos, including a corn quinoa fritter option ($4) and a pork shoulder taco ($5) with pineapple salsa.
Southern smoked short rib (IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)
For those wanting something more substantial, the short rib ($18) is Herbertson’s play on a fajita. It’s smoked for six hours and then cooked sous-vide for another 10. It comes with coleslaw, flour tortillas and two house-made hot sauces.
Macho Radio Bar is open seven days a week from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Monday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends. A smaller late-night menu is available all week from midnight until 2 a.m.
Outside Macho Radio Bar (Image: Yvonne Tsui)